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Health-care fundraising costs soar

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PJ staff report

Fundraisers in fiscal 2009 spent a lot more money than in 2008 to secure gifts and grants for nonprofit hospitals and health-care systems in the U.S. and Canada, a new survey says.

They also saw increases in gifts from physicians, in major gifts and in the average size of annual gifts, special-event fundraising and major gifts, while planned giving fell and annual giving was flat, according to benchmarking data released by the Association for Healthcare Philanthropy.

A separate report the group released earlier this fall found health-care philanthropy fell 11 percent in the U.S. last year to $7.64 billion, while rising 5.2 percent to $1.1 billion in  Canada. That report looked a charitable donations raised by 522 organizations.

“Organizations that best survived last year’s worsening economy were those who persevered by keeping sufficient staff and resources to maintain well-rounded philanthropic opportunities and programs,” William C. McGinly, president and CEO of the Association for Healthcare Philanthropy, says in a statement.

Based on a detailed analysis of data from 66 institutions across the U.S. and Canada, the new survey says the median return on investment, a measure of fundraising effectiveness, fell 23 percent in 2009 to $3.57 from to $4.63 for every dollar invested in securing cash donations and pledges.

For cash donations alone, the median return on investment fell 17 percent to $3.26 for every dollar invested.

Physicians and other hospital employees donated more money, more frequently, with gifts from physicians and physician groups averaging $5,000, up $3,000 from 2008.

Major gifts of at least $10,000 from individuals, foundation and corporations accounted for 55 percent of all revenue raised in the benchmarking survey, up seven percentage points from 2008.

Annual giving represented 15 percent of all fundraising revenue, unchanged from 2008, but costs associated with annual giving consumed 27 percent of all fundraising expenses, up from 19 percent in 2008.

Planned-giving as a share of overall giving fell to 15 percent, down from 17 percent in 2008, while the average size of a planned gift grew to over $140,000 from roughly $100,000 in 2008.

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