Healthcare philanthropy sets new record

Donations to hospitals set a new record in 2011, but the costs of soliciting those funds continued to rise as well, according to a new report by the Association of Healthcare Philanthropy (AHP).

Altogether, hospitals raised $8.94 billion last year. That actually topped the previous record year of 2008 by 4 percentage points, when $8.58 billion was raised. Philanthropy was then affected by the onset of the Great Recession in the intervening years, hitting a bottom of $7.64 billion in 2009.

"Philanthropy is absolutely vital for not-for-profit healthcare organizations, and it is encouraging to see that recent trends in giving have been more promising,"  AHP President William C. McGinly said Monday in a statement.  "Foundations that maintained their efforts during the recession and its aftermath are beginning to experience some significant progress."

Recent reports suggest in light of declining payer reimbursements, hospitals are more reliant on philanthropy to supplement their operating revenues. Charitable giving from patients and their families represents a potential revenue stream often overlooked in favor of more traditional revenue resources, FierceHealthcare previously reported.

All healthcare organizations raised a median of $3.24 for every dollar spent, although academic medical centers raised a median of $7.58 for every dollar spent, according to the AHP. That's a higher return on investment than during the peak of the recession. Healthcare organizations with larger staffs of fundraisers were more effective than those with fewer workers, the AHP said.

However, the overall cost to raise a dollar is at 34 cents, still above pre-recession figures, according to the report.

For more information:
- here's the AHP statement and report fact sheet (.pdf)