As the recession waned in 2010, charitable pledges to nonprofit health care organizations slowed, according to two reports from the Association for Healthcare Philanthropy. Even high-performing fundraising operations (which AHP defines as those organizations that raised at least $5 million in net fundraising revenues in fiscal 2010) saw a downward drift in securing pledges.

High performers were in the 75th percentile of 63 hospitals and systems that participated in the study.

The survey also found that in the wake of the recession, philanthropy increased reliance on cash-based fundraising. Besides annual giving and public support programs, there was an uptick in donations coming from special events such as golf tournaments or community runs, where expenses often can by reduced by using volunteers.

In almost all instances, organizations that devoted more staff and resources to philanthropic tasks did significantly better than those with less to spend on charity programs and fewer professional fundraisers, especially in securing major gifts, government grants and revenue from special events. High performers tended to support systems and academic hospitals, which were better able to weather the recession than smaller, community-based organizations. Still, many of the organizations that did not make it into the high-performer category had better outcomes with Internet solicitations, mailings to donors who had given in the past and gift-club donors.

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