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Survey aimed at public giving.

While many donation policy issues were not answered by a survey of the membership of the American College of Physician Executives, the results did permit some policy determinations for handling requests to health care organizations for donations to community agencies and organizations.

he Department Orthopedics of the University of Florida health system in Gainesville received a request from a local youth athletic group to support its efforts to develop a playing field complex for young soccer players. It asked the Department to contribute financially to the effort. Several faculty members were already supporting the group by caring for injured players. The group was seeking as large a donation as possible toward the purchase of the land for two or three adjacent soccer playing fields. At that time, the Department had no policy for such donations. The Department of Orthopedics did have a desire to contribute to the well-being of the Gainesville community, and it believed that a community relations program and this effort would broaden the image of the group as serving the community. However, the members of the department's clinical staff had no idea how health care institutions honored such requests. In order to obtain a better idea as to the possible policy in this area, we asked the American College of Physician Executives to conduct a survey of its hospital-based physician executive members. The survey was sent to approximately 1,200 hospitals and consisted of a one-page form including eight simple questions, with multiple choices provided for ease of response. Responses were obtained from 124 hospitals. The median size of the responding hospitals was 300400 beds, and the full range of institutional sizes were represented in the response sample. Because the College's membership is skewed in favor of larger institutions, the responses are similarly skewed. Although 42 percent of the respondents indicated that donations in support of community charitable events were made, most failed to report amounts of the contributions. For those listing an amounk the most common response was less than one percent of the hospital's operating budget. The average institutional budget was $92 million. The paucity of responses in the area of donation amounts makes conclusions impossible. In very few cases were the decisions on the donations made by department heads or by committees. Most hospitals place this decision with some higher ranking executive, usually the CEO or the Board. The decision tended to be based on an interview with the requesting agency, at which time the need and the method of announcing the gift were discussed. Donations to any single community organization were most frequently made on an annual basis. The "other" category was checked quite frequently for this question, but it is uncertain whether the frequency for the answer was greater than twice annually, another of the multiple choices, or something less than annual giving. Although no single method of announcing gifts was reported, all of the donating institutions made appropriate announcements of their gifts to get their names before the public. The most common technique was to announce the donation in the program for the event that was being sponsored. Although the failure to report amounts given made it impossible to use the survey to develop policy in that area, the results were quite useful in developing a broad-based policy. The orthopedists first tried to set a broad policy based on 1-1.5 percent of the Department's expenses as the upper limit of donations each year. This percentage was consistent with the information obtained from the respondents to the survey. However, this percentage amount was too much for the academic budget and therefore had to be reduced to a dollar figure. It was decided that each requesting agency submit to a committee of the faculty a formal proposal that was to include the dollar amount, a plan for expenditure, and an annual budget. This plan was also to include the method by which the donation would be announced to the community, with the only condition being that the announcement be in good taste and be released at the time the sponsored project opened.
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Title Annotation:survey of donations to community organizations by health care organizations
Author:Fry, Richard M.
Publication:Physician Executive
Date:Mar 1, 1989
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