Healthcare fundraising will require entrepreneurial, global approaches

Galas and luncheons have historically been fundraising mainstays for nonprofit hospitals and health systems, but many nonprofits have found these and other traditional avenues to provide diminishing returns since the recession took hold. In a December 2009 survey of Association for Healthcare Philanthropy (AHP) members, 85 percent of survey respondents reported that the economy negatively impacted their philanthropy programs, forcing almost half to downgrade giving projections for the year. 

Three key factors--escalating globalization, the growing economic importance of small businesses and the need to develop innovative sources of funding--will spur nonprofits to develop new fundraising approaches to sustain charitable giving, according to a new study by the 4,700-member AHP in Washington, D.C.

"Small businesses, the economic engines of the future, are highly motivated to provide hands-on support to organizations that benefit their workers and their communities," says AHP President and CEO William C. McGinly. "Hospital development professionals will need to be more entrepreneurial in their efforts to nurture productive relationships with this sector, such as co-sponsoring wellness programs with small business associations."

In addition, patient donor relationships with providers are changing due to increased globalization via telemedicine, cross-border medical cooperation and international medical travel. So hospital fundraisers need to develop cross-border and multinational alliances, according to the AHP. Also, immigrant households are emerging as new philanthropic sources, and hospitals can strengthen these relationships by creating ties to medical facilities in immigrants' home countries.

"American fundraisers need to realize that even local community fundraising efforts will increasingly reflect global considerations. 'Cultural awareness,' the ability to understand the attitudes and behaviors of other cultures, will become a key factor to promote donor awareness," says J. Gregory Pope, FAHP, CFRE, AHP chairman and vice president of philanthropy for the Saint Thomas Health Services Foundation in Nashville, Tenn.

For more about fundraising issues:
- see the AHP press release

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