Health care philanthropy picks up steam after recession

About 43% of organizations see an increase in donations, "but the economy has had a dramatic effect."

By — Posted May 3, 2011

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Donations to health care nonprofits declined during the recession, but two industry reports indicate that contributions are inching up as the economy recovers.

"It's encouraging to see. Donors are coming back slowly, but the economy has had a dramatic effect over the past two to three years," said William C. McGinly, PhD, president and chief executive officer of the Assn. for Healthcare Philanthropy, which issued one of the reports. The association represents fundraisers at nonprofit hospitals, health systems, medical centers and long-term-care facilities.

The Nonprofit Research Collaborative, a coalition of six fundraising and philanthropic organizations, issued a report March 22 of an online survey taken in February of 1,616 charity professionals. About 43% of participating organizations received an increase in 2010 contributions compared with 2009. Twenty-four percent said donations held steady, and 33% saw a decline.

Contributions were slightly better for health care nonprofits. About 46% experienced an increase, and 24% had steady donations. Thirty percent had a decrease in contributions.

A report released April 11 by the Assn. for Healthcare Philanthropy also showed reason for optimism (link). Nine percent of fundraising workers said the effect of the economy on donations was very negative in 2010. That was down from 15% in 2009 and 11% in 2008.

Sixty-two percent of the 459 association members who responded to the survey said the impact was only somewhat negative in 2010 -- a decline from 70% in 2009 and 73% in 2008.

More respondents than in recent years said the economy's effect on fundraising activities was positive. Eleven percent said the impact was somewhat positive in 2010, an increase from 3% in 2008.

The association also releases an annual report on money given to health care entities. The numbers for 2010 will be released in a few months. The figures for 2009 were down significantly. Nonprofit medical institutions raised more than $7.6 billion that year, $944 million less than fiscal 2008.

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Purse strings loosening

As the recession loosens its hold, the economy is having less of a negative impact on fundraising by hospitals, medical centers and other health-related charities. A survey by the Assn. for Healthcare Philanthropy shows the impact of economic conditions on donations in 2010, when the recession was easing, compared with 2008 and 2009, when it was in full force.

Economic impact200820092010
Very negative11%15%9%
Somewhat negative73%70%62%
No effect12%8%16%
Somewhat positive3%6%11%

Source: "The Effect of the Economy on Health Care Philanthropy," Assn. for Healthcare Philanthropy, April 11

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