Hospitals often pass on a great opportunity: Philanthropy

Hospitals and healthcare systems may pay short shrift to philanthropy as a potential revenue source, possibly doing damage to their bottom lines, according to Becker's Hospital CFO.

The demands placed on hospital C-suite executives may drive them to treat philanthropy as a luxury rather than a specific need, which could actually hinder plans for the future.

Organizations can use revenue raised through fundraising to capitalize cutting-edge ideas in healthcare delivery, Jane Haderlein, vice president of philanthropy and public affairs for Huntington Memorial Hospital in Pasadena, California, told Becker's.

"The fact remains that empowered and accountable hospital fundraising often provides the highest return on investment business line in health systems today, with high-performing hospitals representing double-digit percentages of their entire bottom line," David Flood, chief development officer of Intermountain Healthcare in Salt Lake City, told Becker's. "But, reality check, philanthropy is a cultural pillar in any nonprofit organization." Flood added that charitable giving to a hospital is unique, because the money will often touch "every point along the socio-economic spectrum."

But despite the advantages to raising additional dollars through fundraising, hospitals must be highly dedicated to the practice. Hospitals and other providers need to actually create and foster a culture dedicated to philanthropy, and that also means hiring staff specifically dedicated to fundraising. And Becker's noted that fundraising often takes years of work in order to reap dividends.

Hospital fundraising did reach new levels in 2012, with nearly $9 billion raised, although the Great Recession constricted some sources of payer revenue, prompting providers to turn to other sources to supplement their cash flow.

To learn more:
- read the Becker's Hospital CFO article