U.S. health-care giving ailing

PJ staff report

Charitable giving for health care in the U.S. took a turn for the worse in 2009, falling 11 percent, while the donations in Canada seem to be recuperating, a new study says.

Contributions to health-care institutions in the U.S. fell by almost $1 billion, totaling $7.644 billion in 2009, compared to $8.588 billion in 2008, says the study from the Association for Health Care Philanthropy.

Across the northern border, health-related giving in Canada totaled $1.124 billion in 2009, up 5.2 percent from $1.06 billion in 2008.

Cash donations in the U.S. fell by $818 million in during 2009, while secured pledges were off by $97 million.

At the same time, the return on fundraising investments in the U.S. fell 9 percent, with health-care organizations bringing in $3.19 for each dollar invested in 2009, compared to $3.51 in 2008.

“This downward trend is a very serious problem in the U.S.,” William McGinly, president and CEO of the association, says 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 health-care reform puts new pressure on nonprofit hospitals to serve more patients.”

Eight in 10 U.S. health-care donors in 2009 were individuals, most of whom had a personal connection to the institution they supported, either as a patient, employee or board member.

About 27 percent of contributions were used for construction or renovations, while about 18 percent covered new equipment, 18 percent funded charity care and programs benefiting the community, and 15 percent covered general operations.

While Canadian health-care institutions fared better, that may be because many organizations closed fiscal 2009 in March, just after the stock-market rally that occurred in the first three months of the year.

But the 5.2 percent increase in donations was a welcome change from 2008, when contributions were off 13 percent.

Much of the increase in 2009 was due to a surge in cash contributions, which grew by $147 million to reach $869 million.

Eight in 10 donors in Canada in 2009 were individuals, 27 percent of whom had a personal connection to the institution they supported, while businesses accounted for more than 25 percent of donations and foundation gave 3 percent.

More than 55 percent of Canadian donations were spent on equipment, while 15.4 percent covered construction, 10.8 percent paid for teaching and research and 8.2 percent covered general operations.

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