South Florida Hospital News
Monday November 20, 2017
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December 2009 - Volume 6 - Issue 6

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Does Giving Back Make Sense?

10 hints for making your donation program work for your practice and your community

Thereís no greater pull from charitable organizations than during the holidays, yet the needs in the community exist year round and most physician practices, hospitals and medical organizations are inundated with requests for donations year round. Having a positive presence in the community through a strategic giving program is good for business and good for those in need. Here are a few hints for making sense out of giving back:

1. Decide What You Stand For.
Aligning yourself with nonprofit organizations that reflect your mission can go a long way to building a positive image before the patients you want to reach. For example, supporting the American Heart Association may make sense for a group of cardiologists, while scholarship to a local nursing program could be the best approach for a hospital in need of nursing staff.

2. Create a written policy.
Narrow your giving requests by publishing a detailed description of what causes you give to (e.g. health education, the arts, heart disease, etc.) and what policies you have in place for reviewing requests. For example, you may want to appoint a special committee to review all requests once a year or once a quarter. Examples of giving policies exist on most large corporate and foundation websites.

3. Avoid scattered giving.
When most organizations compile all of the small contributions made throughout the year, the total is often a large number. Both the donor and the charity enjoy greater impact with larger, more focused gifts versus many small donations.

4. Develop and stick to a budget.
Avoid surprise expense by deciding once a year the amount to be allocated to various charitable causes, including gala sponsorships and event tickets.

5. Keep personal favorites separate.
If some members of the management team insist on support of the local soccer team or ads in the high school year book, allocate a separate personal fund for each physician or manager to use at his or her own discretion.

6. Promote your good deeds.
Letting others know that you do give back is smart marketing. Plus, employees and patients alike feel good about working for and using a practice or hospital that generously supports those in need. Include a page on your website about community involvement. Issue a news release about a sponsorship or donation.

7. Establish long-term, multi-faceted partnerships.
Simply writing a check once a year hardly moves the needle. Instead, develop a lasting partnership that includes a focus on your gift toward a specific project or need. Turn a one-time gift into a longer commitment that makes a real difference.

8. Get involved.
Join the board. Plan a staff volunteer day. Get others involved. Hands-on involvement builds morale and generates business.

9. Avoid the temptation to set up your own foundation.
The paperwork and legalities involved in establishing a foundation are expensive, time-consuming and cumbersome. Instead, if you want to set aside a larger amount of money for giving purposes, contact your local Community Foundation about establishing a named fund that they can manage for you.

10. Create your own named programs.
One of the most effective methods for building a partnership for a cause is to "own" a program. By attaching your organizationís name to the effort, you are forever tied to that program and known as the medical group trying to make a difference.

In summary, giving back is good for the community and good for business, as long as itís done with careful planning and strategic purpose.

Ellen Crane Schulman, is accredited in public relations (APR) and has nearly 30 years of experience working for such companies as ALCOA, American Airlines and Hill and Knowlton. She has been president of her own public relations firm, Ellen Schulman Public Relations, for almost 10 years, and can be reached at 954-895-3152 or at ellen@ellenschuluman.com.
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