Association for Healthcare Philanthropy Opposes Limits on Charitable Tax Deductions
A report by Indiana University “suggests that had these proposals been in place in 2006, total itemized charitable giving by households would have dropped by 2.1 percent.” And that number fails to take into account the current large decline in America’s personal wealth. Americans’ generosity in support of nonprofit hospitals and health care systems is substantial, totaling $8.35 billion last year according to AHP’s Report on Giving 2007. This report reveals an important insight concerning the importance of public backing for the nonprofit health care community: Almost 83 percent of all donors last year were individuals. Individuals provided 61 percent of all donations. Can American hospitals afford to lose 2.1 percent or more in contributions from these families?
Probably not. And, unfortunately, the growth rate of giving to the health care sector is slowing down and the number of donors is flat. According to a 2007 Chronicle of Philanthropy article, “Contributions to health-care institutions rose last year (2006) by 8.3 percent, adjusted for inflation, compared with a 12.9-percent rise from 2004 to 2005.” The same conclusion was drawn from an AHP-sponsored study released in September 2008, by John Volpe, Ph.D., collegiate professor at the University of Maryland University College. In Economic Cycles and Charitable Giving Volpe concludes that a slowing of the growth in Gross Domestic Product and disposable personal income, as well as uncertainty over the economy are likely to contribute to weakness in charitable giving through 2009.
Yet such charitable giving is and will remain vital to the hospitals and systems to which it flows. According to the American Hospital Association (AHA) November 2008 Report on the Economic Crisis, the capital crunch is making it difficult and expensive for hospitals to finance facility and technology needs. The AHP Report on Giving indicates that more than 45 percent of charitable giving was put to use to upgrade infrastructure, including often long-overdue construction and renovation projects and equipment purchases. An additional 25 percent supported important functions such as community benefit programs, charitable care, research and teaching, and hospice, long-term and nursing care. About 14 percent went to general operations.