Your June 29 editorial ("Slide in healthcare donations should be warning to execs," p. 124) unintentionally exaggerated the extent to which the downward trend in healthcare charitable donations affects community hospitals. The statistics cited, from the Association for Healthcare Philanthropy's latest Report on Giving, are inadequately qualified, and specific data on community hospitals are overlooked or overstated.
Most important, only 15.7% of the AHP's 1,422 not-for-profit U.S. member institutions participated in the survey, and less than half of all members are community hospitals. Therefore, at best, any survey results are but a partial picture of industry trends.
While cash contributions in 1997 to all institutions that participated in the survey did indeed decrease by 2.5% compared with those in 1996 (not the 3% the article cited-the difference seems small, but it actually represents tens of millions of dollars), "community hospitals reported an increase in total cash contributions, up 22.6%," to quote the survey directly. By comparison, my community hospital enjoyed a 39% increase in 1997 cash contributions, to more than $1.2 million from less than $900,000 in 1996.
The point is that statistics are tricky. Careful attention to all relevant data, within context, is the best policy.
Vice president of development
Phelps Memorial Hospital Center, Sleepy Hollow, N.Y>