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New eBook helps hospitals report charitable giving

Through its Hospital Charitable Service Awards program, Jackson Healthcare in Alpharetta, Ga. has created an eBook for hospital executives interested in improving their organization's community benefit and charitable service reporting.

The eBook, which is titled, "Leveraging Your Story: Applying Business Acumen to Hospital Charitable Service," is a free resource available to all hospitals in an effort to help them expand the impact and public support of their community service programs. It emerged from research conducted through the Hospital Charitable Service Awards, a national program that recognizes and rewards charitable hospital programs that demonstrate sustainable community impact.

[See also: Charitable pledges to hospitals slow, jeopardize future fundraising]

“With hospitals’ tax-exempt status under increased scrutiny, hospital leaders must effectively demonstrate the positive impact their charitable service programs are having in the communities they serve. In addition, we are convinced that these programs have considerably more impact than is ever reported,” said Charles Evans, chair of Hospital Charitable Service Awards. “We wanted to make a contribution to their charitable community efforts through this booklet. Our intent was to make available a standardized tool to hospitals of all sizes and structures. One that is practical rather than theoretical.”

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Evans said the term “return on invested giving” is one of several new metrics developed as part of the eBook project that communicates how much a program measurably achieves with the funding and in-kind services it receives.

He said Calvin Edwards & Company, an Atlanta-based firm that specializes in measuring the impact of nonprofit organizations for the benefit of donors, provided an unbiased, third-party evaluation of the impact of hospital charitable service programs, and was instrumental in providing the research, methodology and content of the eBook. Evans also said they engaged four hospital programs with a proven track record of operating in innovative, sustainable ways.

According to Calvin Edwards, the firm’s founder and CEO, philanthropists and other community leaders are more focused on outcomes than ever before. “Community leaders and prospective financial donors want to see that their local hospital is addressing and improving the health of underserved people in their community. They want to see results,” he said in a written statement.

[See also: Charitable giving for U.S. healthcare plunged 11 percent in 2009]

The process of shifting from an orientation around outputs - or activities - to one around outcomes - or achievements - takes diligence and time, Edwards said. Through this process, hospitals can leverage their charitable investments to rally philanthropic and public support, which are two valuable assets.

“Our goal, through our awards program, national conference and publications like this booklet, is to foster collective thinking about how hospitals can bring rigor to the planning, operation and reporting of the charitable services they offer,” said Evans. “In addition, we want to shine a light on hospital services that go unrecognized for the work they do saving lives and bringing medical care to underserved populations.”

Hospitals can download the free eBook at http://bit.ly/hospitalimpactstudy.

Follow HFN Associate Editor Kelsey Brimmer on Twitter @kbrimmerhfn.

[See also: Charitable tax deduction changes may hurt nonprofits]

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