In a story that details the lengths a hospital will sometimes go to solicit a wealthy donor, physicians and executives at Beth Israel Medical Center spent years trying to obtain large donations from an aging heiress who lived at the facility for 20 years but had no major health problems, the New York Times reported.
The Manhattan hospital received a cash bequest from Huguette Clark and a Manet painting that altogether brought Beth Israel about $4.5 million, but is now being contested in court by her heirs. Clark also paid the hospital millions for her two-decade stay.
According to the Association of Healthcare Philanthropy, major gifts account for the largest share of philanthropic giving--but providers have been struggling to secure them. Overall donations dropped about 10 percent during the 2009 recession, and while they have since rebounded, it costs 34 cents to solicit every dollar--up from the pre-recession years.
Still, the lengths to which Beth Isreal went to woo Clark have raised eyebrows.
According to the Times, Beth Israel gave Clark, daughter of a copper mining magnate, token gifts such as classical music CDs, balloons, an Easter basket and baked goods made by the wife of the since-retired hospital CEO, Robert Newman, M.D. On another occasion, Newman's mother watched cartoons with Clark to try to establish a rapport.
Beth Israel staff also talked about holding brainstorming sessions to obtain a large gift from Clark, who left a $300 million fortune when she died in 2011 at the age of 104.
Beth Israel received a $1 million bequest in a will Clark signed in 2005, the third one in she had drafted in a matter of months that year, according to the Washington Post. She had not drafted a will prior to that since the 1920s.
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