U.S. nonprofit hospitals and health systems managed an 8 percent increase in philanthropic donations last year, to more than $8 billion, with individual donors contributing almost 60 percent of that total, according to the Association for Healthcare Philanthropy.The 2010 total was an increase of $620 million from $7.64 billion raised in 2009. While both years still fall short of fiscal 2008 and 2007 totals—$8.59 billion and $8.35 billion, respectively—the 8 percent growth was the best rate of advance since fiscal 2006.

Annual giving was the largest source of funds raised in fiscal 2010, accounting for 20 percent of all funds raised, followed by major gifts (17.1 percent), capital campaigns (15.4 percent) and special events (14.8 percent). Planned giving, which includes bequests, charitable gift annuities, charitable remainder trusts and similar long-term arrangements, accounted for 9.5 percent of donations last year.As in previous years, institutions directed the largest single share of their donated dollars to fund construction and renovation projects; however, that portion declined from 27.3 percent in fiscal 2009 to 22 percent today.

Higher-than-average success in obtaining donations was demonstrated by fundraising programs that help to sustain hospitals associated with academic institutions and children's hospitals, by programs that have been in existence for 15 or more years, and by those with at least four professional fundraisers on staff. During the past three years, foundations have experienced a falling return on investment while costs to raise each dollar have climbed. This year, the cost to raise a dollar through philanthropy was 33 cents, and return on investment declined more than 4 percent to just $3.05 raised for every dollar spent on fundraising. These metrics indicate increased expenses associated with raising the same funds as in previous years.

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