Something from Nothing: Community Support for Healthcare Institutions

community_support_healthcareHow do you inspire a community to even consider providing philanthropic support to a hospital that for years asked for nothing in return except the fees it charged for its services?

That was the problem faced by a community hospital client that went from for-profit ownership to ownership by a not-for-profit system.The new owners were investing millions in upgrading the community’s hospital and health care infrastructure and wanted to form a closer partnership with the community, a partnership that extended into the community’s philanthropic coffers. Sound impossible? It’s not as hard as you’d think.

Here are a few take-aways from that engagement that hospitals in similar situations can apply; even those who have been not-for-profit all along but never entered the philanthropic arena.

  • Make philanthropy about enhancing care. Take the time to learn what your community feels it is lacking in health services and coalesce your case for philanthropic support around improving care in those areas.
  • Show you have skin in the game. Demonstrate the investment the new not-for-profit is making in the community, and ask for community support that is truly a partnership, and not about meeting a funding shortfall.
  • Find your champion. Instead of trying to find an appeal to the masses, work to find that one community leader or group of leaders willing to invest her/his/their time and treasure into your organization and build from there. So, when looking for that champion, aim high. Form your initial foundation board from this group.
  • Your doctors are gold. Use them. Position your doctors to explain how they are saving lives and how community support will help them with their work. This is a magical opportunity that only your not-for-profit possesses.
  • Get started. The only way to get people to give is to ask them. It may be rough hoeing at first, but planning alone won’t turn the soil.

By using some of these strategies, our client is well on their way to launching their first campaign, and has built considerable community buy-in.

For more information or answers to your questions, please contact James Plourde.

Healthcare Trends

James Plourde

James Plourde is a Senior Consultant at Collins Group, a division of Campbell & Company. James works to help clients clarify their path and give them the confidence to proceed. His work is enriched by his sector experience in higher education, healthcare, independent schools, and faith-based nonprofits.