Daunted by changes in healthcare delivery, donors held back on charitable gifts to hospitals in 1997, a new survey found.
Giving dropped 9% overall to $5.2 billion, according to the Falls Church, Va.-based Association for Healthcare Philanthropy, which released its annual Report on Giving last week. The report documents the largest drop in total giving since 1984.
William McGinly, the AHP's president and chief executive officer, attributed the decline to donors' lack of confidence rising from the changes that hospitals have experienced during the past year.
"Identities are blurred when hospitals go through these mergers and acquisitions, and that's what creates the confusion," he said.
The AHP data are reflected in another recent report published by the New York-based AAFRC Trust for Philanthropy, the research arm of the American Association of Fund-Raising Counsel. The trust's report showed that charitable giving to all kinds of not-for-profit health organizations rose just 1% to $14 billion last year (June 2, 1997, p. 6). The increase would have been higher had hospital giving not slipped.
The AHP surveyed 1,422 U.S. hospital members and received 224 completed surveys for a 16% response rate.
Most categories of giving suffered in 1997. Pledges were down 27% to $621 million; planned gifts fell 19% to $749 million; and nonmonetary gifts, such as property, dropped 34% to $172 million.
Cash contributions-the bread-and-butter of fund-raising-also shrank but by only 3%. Cold hard cash accounted for $2.7 billion of total giving, the report said.
Despite an overall decline in giving, some institutions fared better than others. Overall, children's hospitals performed best, because they maintained their identities in their communities, McGinly said. Median cash donations to children's hospitals jumped 72% to $9 million.
To restore confidence, fund-raisers are emphasizing the benefits to communities when not-for-profit hospitals partner with others. That education is bringing a resurgence of charitable giving, McGinly said.
"It's already coming back big-time in '98," he said.