Riding the Waves of Change

by | Feb 11, 2014

Fundraising Amid the Affordable Care Act

Despite the shaky ground for fundraising created by the Affordable Care Act (ACA), some development professionals believe the Act’s provisions—particularly for affordable-care organizations and financial benefits for medical facilities and health professionals who promote affordable health care for people—may shift the focus from infrastructure improvements to healthcare program development.

Opening new avenues

In a September 2013 Chronicle of Philanthropy article discussing the ACA, Larry Raff, a fundraising professional in Newton, Massachusetts, suggests this shift in focus will open new avenues. “It will no longer be about getting money for that MRI machine or building more hospital rooms,” he says. “It will be about making a case for a healthier public through community-based wellness programs, through more training and education in primary care … not just putting one more plaque on a hospital wall.”

He further believes that the types of partnerships the ACA aims to promote among facilities, hospital networks, and other healthcare systems will actually be attractive to the smaller donors. “Donors will feel better supporting that asthma-prevention program in their neighborhood because it will have the heft of a whole hospital behind it,” he says.

Don’t talk politics: Pointers for those making the asks

We all know politics and religion can be sensitive subjects, but discussing your fundraising challenges in light of the ACA can be a tenuous tightrope to walk when you’re face-to-face with a potential donor. Here are a few suggestions for working in concert with the ACA:

  • Along with your CEO, CFO, and financial chairs discuss specific ways the regulations under the ACA might impact your organization’s revenue streams, operating costs, endowments, services, and staffing.
  • Work with your communications officer to craft responses to those uncomfortable questions you’re likely to face: “I support other causes that have greater need. Isn’t the government already giving you money anyway?”
  • Assess your organization’s current state of funding. Identify those projects or causes your donors are likely to care about the most.
  • Be proactive. Whether by phone, email, or a personal visit, make sure you’re connecting with your donors to offer advice and answers to questions as changes under the ACA begin to filter their way into your community.
  • Use the ACA as a starting point to discuss giving in support of healthcare-related services or endowments.

What types of challenges are you facing at your organization? Share them; we’re here to help.

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