A call to philanthropists with a heart for healthcare heroes

This is a contributed piece from Laurie Kelley, Chief Philanthropy Officer, Providence

Until I worked in a large not-for-profit system like Providence, I had no idea of the breadth and depth of safety nets that our hospitals and healthcare organizations are providing for their communities. At Providence, for example, we are always involved in patient care and research.  But more than that, our community health initiatives focus on unmet basic social needs, along with physical and mental health, with a special emphasis on those who are poor, vulnerable and marginalized. We know these areas are foundational to health and well-being and by partnering with caring philanthropists to fund some of these identified gaps, we can make entire communities stronger. 

If you'd like to learn more about how donations are helping make communities healthier and safer or to join us in the fight against COVID-19, visit our donation site

The secret sauce in health care

At the start, I was surprised to learn that philanthropy has always been the secret sauce in the best of American healthcare. From better equipment, new buildings, “endowed chairs”, music therapy, medical ethicists, patient navigators and even therapy dogs, philanthropy has been the difference-maker. Our healthcare foundations are involved in less-visible areas of need, such as housing and food vouchers for those without homes who are discharged from care. We also help fund vaccine creation and life-saving research, with a notable current focus on treatments for COVID-19. Philanthropic support is all about the relationships and the trust that our organizations have built, over decades, with their communities.

We know that the need for healthcare providers and systems to support the health and basic social needs of their communities has dramatically increased as the ramifications of the impact COVID-19 has had on jobs and requires economic rebuilding. Hospitals and health systems are diligently working to cut costs and balance budgets after months of diminished revenue due to reduced caseloads. An increase in philanthropic support can go a long way toward making helping promote the commitment to care in places where HEROES work every day. 

Current opportunities to support nonprofit health care

Our family of organizations currently needs funding for research, testing, behavioral health services, food insecurity, and housing to name a few areas.  Even as the COVID-19 pandemic flattens and hopefully, in time, comes to a close, the health needs of communities will be enormous. 

Giving USA's most recent annual report on philanthropy noted that $428 billion was given to nonprofits in 2018. Leading sectors for giving were Religion (29%), Education (14%), Human Services (12%), Foundations (12%) and Health (9%).  According to the National Philanthropic Trust, it tracked $121.4 billion in donor-advised funds during 2018 throughout the United States.  Such funds are intended for use in nonprofits – let’s deploy them now. 

New giving incentives from the CARES Act

For the majority of us who do not have donor-advised funds, there are new incentives made possible by the CARES Act for the charitably minded, including:

  • With the Temporary Universal Charitable Deduction, taxpayers who do not itemize their deductions can take a one-time deduction of up to $300 for cash contributions made to charitable organizations. 
  • In 2020, most donors can take an income tax deduction of up to 100% of their adjusted gross income, for cash gifts that are made directly to charities.
  • The cap on how much corporations may deduct for charitable gifts increased from 10 percent of taxable income to 25 percent. 

Honor a hero with your gift

For those still able to make gifts in a stalled economy, I can’t think of a better investment right now than the health of the people in our communities. Every nonprofit health system in the nation has been on the front lines for the people and businesses in their community. Meaningful community support of these same health systems can make a huge difference in the coming days and years. Join us by investing in health for a better world. 

Learn more about Providence, how we're handing COVID and our commitment to care. 

About the Author

Laurie leads the system-wide Office of Philanthropy for Providence, one of the nation's largest nonprofit healthcare providers. Her goal is inspiring generosity to fulfill the Providence promise of creating Health for a Better World.

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