How Hospital Foundations are Building a New Case for Support

“Why is a hospital foundation getting involved in quality-of-life issues?”

This is one of the first questions donors ask. Luckily, the answer is simple.

We can provide the best care at our medical center, but a patient’s personal environment can undo all of that work if it does not promote a healthy lifestyle. Health starts long before illness, and all of our patients should have the opportunity to make the choices that allow them to live a long, healthy life – regardless of income, education, or cultural background.

Read more about hospitals’ strategic shifts to address community health.

This simple answer is why MHP Foundation is shifting our fundraising focus to the social determinants of health within our community. The organization we support, Major Health Partners (MHP) has a long history of always being above average, and it’s our overall goal to improve the health of our community, thereby increasing the quality of the care we provide. Our patient-centric culture has shifted our focus to this new challenge that we are prepared to meet successfully.

While the answer is simple, it’s harder for donors to wrap their heads around.

Motivating Donors to Support Social Determinants of Health

Our greatest challenge as the MHP Foundation will be informing and motivating donors to this new case for support. Healthcare philanthropy traditionally has been mostly capital. These tangible projects like facilities and equipment are easy for donors to conceive, fund, and experience.

That’s why we decided at MHP Foundation that when donors give toward the social determinants, their dollars will be used for facility development, programming, and scholarships in one of the four key areas identified in MHP’s Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA).

Our focus areas are: early childhood learning, behavioral health, obesity, and transportation. Here’s a quick breakdown of how donor funding will impact each of the four social determinants we are focusing on:

Early Learning, Ages 0-3: MHP is working with community partners to develop a $6M facility for early learning on the MHP campus. This facility will offer a nationally standardized curriculum and evidence-based programming for 200 children ages 0-3.

Behavioral Health: MHP understands this social determinant of health is complex, so we are considering multiple options. Plans are in early development for an inclusive option for all types of patients.

Obesity: MHP recently opened a Community Health & Wellness Center which houses a brand-new YMCA and MHP Lifestyle Medicine Practice. These two combined will help patients adopt a healthier lifestyle to reduce obesity.

Transportation: MHP has a long-standing partnership with a local transport system, ShelbyGo. We will continue to support this service, but hospital-specific systems may come into place is growth and need continue.

Using #GivingTueday to Fundraise for Community Health

MHP Foundation is not doing this alone. Partnerships are key to deepen community connections and to expand networks. By working with other nonprofit organizations with parallel missions, we can prevent mission drift while still using resources effectively. So, our social determinants of health campaign will kick-off on a day that nonprofit organizations all over the world work together each year. Giving Tuesday!

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After one of the hardest years in healthcare, our Giving Tuesday will focus even more on gratitude and the community than years before. Our theme is “Celebrate Better Health”, and our focused messaging will engage every type of prospect, volunteer, employee, and donor that has a relationship with us. Clinical staff at MHP will be celebrated for their year of tireless care through the pandemic. Volunteers and prospects can learn how to improve their health. Donors will be showered with gratitude for their support towards the new initiatives. Employees are already excited to celebrate through a virtual dance-off peer-to-peer fundraising challenge!

We intend to go large with two gratitude power hours.  This entails board and committee members making phone calls to thank donors for their gifts in the past year(s). The callers and the callees enjoy this a great deal, and we always hear positive comments from both. With luck, we’ll be able to gather in person, and we’ll be able to do a Facebook post showing the calling going on. It’s a neat shot because of the low murmur of conversation and occasional bursts of laughter. People really have a good time, and it sets a very good tone for the rest of our posts.

We also plan to involve as many community and staff members as we can in virtual interviews.  People are frequently surprised to learn about the needs of our community where social determinants of health are involved, and they’re even more surprised to learn what a huge effect they can have on a person’s health.  It’s very thought provoking and always brings out great conversation.

Meet the champion that healthcare fundraisers are overlooking.

We really look forward to Giving Tuesday as a great way to showcase our organization and the upcoming projects regarding social determinants of health.  We can tell stories, find new donors, reconnect with old donors, and feature testimonials.  It’s a day like no other when it comes to reaching out multiple times.  We have so much material to work with this year, and our viewers will learn so much.

Using the Simple Answer to Move the Conversation Forward

Giving Tuesday will serve as both a fundraising campaign launch and a conversation starter with the community regarding social determinants of health. We will celebrate how far we’ve come with healthcare while also teaching them what still needs to be fixed. Our initial messaging is really “social determinants 101” to start shifting the community’s understanding of our mission areas. The process will take time, effort, and communication – but we’ll be ready to celebrate our fundraising success at the end!

Ready to get started? Read the five steps to creating effective community health initiatives.