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News You Can Use

News You Can Use
Issue 137/May 2014

How Will the Affordable Care Act Affect Your Organization’s Fundraising? 

Mary Ellen Clark

By Mary Ellen Clark
Senior Vice President

While many businesses and individuals have been looking at the effect of the Affordable Care Act on their businesses and personal futures, the nonprofit industry – and specifically many hospital foundations – have been taking a somewhat passive approach to these outcomes. However, highly effective foundations have prepared for the increased needs of their hospitals and community. They continue to tell their stories, clearly communicate their needs, provide adequate staffing and listen to donors.

The Association of Healthcare Philanthropy (AHP), our nation’s leading source for benchmarking, research and reporting of fundraising in our hospitals, recently conducted a study into these effects: The Effect of the Affordable Care Act on Healthcare Philanthropy. Here is an Executive Summary of this study reported just months ago:

  • At the end of January and early February 2014, AHP surveyed its U.S. membership to determine how healthcare development fared in 2013 based on the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which was signed into law in 2010.

  • A little more than half (53%) of the respondents reported no effect while one-third (33%) reported a somewhat negative effect when asked about the overall effect healthcare reform and the ACA had on their development office, fundraising activities and results during 2013.

  • A majority (71.3%) of AHP members report that they did not change their overall giving forecast for the next 2-3 years because of the ACA.

  • 12.9% of respondents report that they made increases to their giving forecast for the next 2-3 years. The most frequently cited (mode) forecast increase was 6-10%.

  • 15.8% of respondents report that they decreased their giving forecast for the next 2-3 years. The most frequently cited forecast reduction was 0-5%.

  • A majority (57.7%) of AHP members report that they have not made changes to their development organization’s operating budget.

  • Nearly one third (30.3%) of respondents report that they increased their operating budget. The most frequently cited budget increase was 0-10%.

  • The majority of respondents (65.4%) had not experienced a merger or acquisition in the past three years.

  • Two-fifths (38.9%) of AHP members plan to increase staff size within the next three years.

Source: The Association for Healthcare Philanthropy, February 2014.

While some believe that it is too early to tell if the ACA will impact philanthropy, most foundations report that they are experiencing a great deal of change and uncertainty. More donors want to discuss this topic and many foundations are experiencing more pressure from the hospital to raise more money.

Healthcare organizations are more reliant upon philanthropy today than ever before – facing budget pressure and working with limited resources. Fundraising helps bridge the gap. Successful organizations, those who are planning effectively for the future of healthcare and healthcare fundraising, are those in which the leadership at all levels plays an active role in fundraising. Support and participation from each leadership constituency – boards, staff, advocates and collaborative partners – is essential to healthcare fundraising success.

Our healthcare consulting allows organizations to focus on the changing climate while supporting critical programs. To further discuss how your organization can achieve fundraising success, contact me directly at


Volunteers Give Back


Rhonda McClung
Vice President


Involvement leads to investment. It’s an old fundraising adage that studies have proven true. People who volunteer are more likely to donate money than people who do not volunteer. Often overlooked as an important strategy, quality volunteer programs play an significant role in a nonprofit’s overall development program.


Volunteers are often seen as those people who prefer to give their time rather than their money, or give of their time because they have no money. But a 2009 study conducted for Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund (Volunteerism and Charitable Giving in 2009: Click here to view the study) found that on average, people donate 10 times more money if they have volunteered within the last year, with two-thirds of those people giving to the organizations where they give time.


Volunteer services are sometimes organizationally structured as parallel, but not connected, to development efforts. Volunteering is important to the organization’s operations, but not a component in the resource development plans. Rethink that strategy. Engaging volunteers in giving and engaging donors in volunteering can positively impact the entire organization.


Volunteer Coordinators and Development Officers should work side-by-side in developing strategies. Volunteer Coordinators can identify the volunteers that have the greatest interest in the organization. Development Officers can point out those donors who are the best candidates, based on their availability or specific skills and expertise needed by the organization. Working together brings greater value to both positions. 


Ask Donors to Volunteer


Of course, there are people who donate, without any interest in spending time with the nonprofit.  Once invited, these donors may not choose to volunteer; but an explanation about how their time is important too may give them a sense that they are part of something bigger. It is not just about the money.  It is about the impact that the money makes on people. 


Volunteer Coordinators can reach out to donors by:


 Including details about volunteer opportunities and contact information in selected mailings to donors.  


  • Asking current volunteers to review lists of donors to identify those they know, then reaching out to the donors with the help of  those same volunteers. People are often hesitant to dedicate time to an organization unless they know other people already involved.


  • Personalizing the ask for time:  call the donor and ask about specific tasks that suit their interests and availability. With input from a Development Officer, look for opportunities to discuss that tell the donor you know who they are and that they are important to the organization as a whole. 


Treat Volunteers as Prospective Donors 


Volunteers are the most likely to understand the needs of the organization with firsthand experience in what it takes to make the place work at its highest capacity. To increase volunteer giving, Development Officers can:


  • Include volunteers in annual requests. Customize the ask to reference their volunteer time and the organization’s understanding and appreciation of the contribution that they already make. 


  • Include volunteers in email blasts and newsletter mailings currently sent to donors.  Featuring programs that the volunteers are already aware of can reinforce the importance of their work while underscoring the need for funds to make the work possible. 


  • Ask volunteers who also give to become ambassadors for the organization, letting others know the successes, needs and challenges the nonprofit faces.  A Development Officer can take a volunteer on a call to tell firsthand the stories of the organization’s impact and the importance of giving.


  • Consider planned giving requests for those who say they are giving their time now because their funds are limited.  Planned giving is the perfect vehicle for volunteers who feel like they do not have the cash to spare for a gift but want to have a significant impact on the organization. 


Whether volunteers or donors, these are people who have already indicated support of your mission.  Volunteer Coordinators and Development Officers working together can significantly increase the impact these supporters make on the organization. 

To discuss how your organization can bring greater value to both volunteers and donors, contact me directly at

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