Hard times for hospitals call for more donations

As many hospitals continue to hemorrhage money or worse, announce layoffs and closings, facilities are looking for ways to curb Medicare and Medicaid payment reductions and uncompensated care. One way might be to focus efforts on philanthropic donations.

For example, Shriners Hospitals will end its 89 years of free care, a move that comes from reduced donations, reports UPI. Shriners' endowments have been hard hit by the economic downturn. The hospitals, instead, will bill insurance companies and charge families that can afford the copayments.

"We're not a poor organization," said Doug Maxwell, president and chief executive officer of Shriners Hospitals for Children, based in Tampa, Fla., in the article. "But if we don't make wise decisions now, we won't last."

University of California, San Francisco, on the other hand, recently has received an outpouring amount of donations though heavy philanthropy efforts, reports the San Francisco Gate.

After a complicated pregnancy and the birth of his daughter at UCSF, Salesforce.com founder Marc Benioff and his wife, Lynne, initially committed to donating $20 million anonymously to the hospital. However, after a meeting with UCSF Medical Center CEO Mark Laret, Marc Benioff donated $100 million toward the UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital, at the urging of Laret to use their name to encourage other donors.

The donation had a ripple effect with others donations of $90 million dedicated to UCSF, according to the article.

Donation solicitations came from innovative marketing methods.

For example, Lynne Benioff began advising the UCSF Foundation board on ways to improve the patient experience, having gone through it herself. She also raised $1 million through Facebook and Twitter.

Marc Benioff organized a celebrity benefit concert with Neil Young that brought in $3 million in donations.

"If you really want to have a company that has a philanthropic orientation, it needs to not be a bolt-on," Marc Benioff said in the article about his company philosophy. "It needs to be integrated."

To learn more:
- read the UPI article
- check out the SF Gate article