Charitable contributions to non-profit healthcare institutions posted a double-digit decline in the U.S. last year, at a time when hospitals may soon become increasingly dependent on such giving.
Donations in 2009 totaled $7.64 billion in the United States, compared to $8.58 billion in 2008, a drop of 11 percent, according to the Association for Healthcare Philanthropy. Cash contributions were down $818 million, while pledges were down by $97 million.
"This downward trend is a very serious problem in the U.S." AHP chairman Gregory Pope, who is also vice president of philanthropy for Saint Thomas Health Services Foundation in Nashville, Tenn., said in a statement. "It comes just as some in Congress want to make it difficult for taxpayers to earn deductions for their donations, and as healthcare reform puts new pressure on nonprofit hospitals to serve more patients," he said.
Meanwhile, in Canada, contributions rose 5.2 percent, to $1.12 billion, although contributions had dropped more than 13 percent in 2008.
More than 70 percent of the U.S. contributions were from individual donors, including patients, employees, physicians and board members. Businesses and foundations comprised the remainder, accounting for 28 percent of funds raised.
Approximately 45 percent of the proceeds went to renovations and new equipment, with 18 percent going to charity care and 15 percent devoted to general operations.