Check-Up Clinic: Advice

Posted on

How Is the Healthcare Sector Managing Philanthropy Through a Pandemic?

Clare Jordan | May 5, 2020

The most “essential” of all essential business in times of pandemic is obviously healthcare.

Nonprofit healthcare services from major medical centers, community hospitals, to hospices, free clinics, community medical services, retirement communities and more are all deeply impacted by this major health crisis in our communities and world.

Second only to the education sector, CapDev serves more healthcare related clients than any other sector. Below we share some of their responses to this pandemic and ways they are continuing to further their donor relationships.

Putting Healthcare in Context:

In terms of economic value and employment, healthcare is the largest sector within the nonprofit industry, comprising up to half of all nonprofit revenue and employment, and with the largest share of wages and salaries in the nonprofit industry. (

Although the healthcare sector accounts for a large part of the revenue and expenses of all nonprofits, healthcare organizations do not comprise the largest quantity of nonprofits within the sector. That distinction goes to education and to human services nonprofits which comprise more nonprofit organizations than other sectors by far.

In terms of giving, in Giving USA’s last reported data, the healthcare sector was the recipient of 10% of all giving in 2018 ($40.78 billion of the total $421.71 billion given):

CapDev Healthcare Clients’ Responses:

Transitions LifeCare:

Formerly known as Hospice of Wake County, this long-time CapDev client jumped into donor communications quickly, engaging the CEO and top leaders in making calls to donors, sharing thanks and expressing the organization’s need and appreciation for their ongoing support, especially in these critical times.

In this phase of response, Transitions has created a Stewardship Newsletter that went out to donors this week, reinforcing their message of gratitude, which you can see here.

The Health Foundation:

In Western NC, Wilkes County’s Health Foundation, was established in 1991 “to improve the health and well-being of the people who live” there. A past CapDev client, they got out ahead of the May 5th #GivingTuesdayNow movement with a well-crafted email to supporters, clearly conveying their message as follows:

The coronavirus will not keep us from serving local non-profit agencies that so many folks in Wilkes rely on. Those who depend on us most cannot wait for “normalcy” to arrive.

The Health Foundation is well-positioned to continue providing its core services, but we will not rest while our partner agencies struggle to keep their organization going during this strange, uncertain time.

When we get through this crisis, we want to be sure these vital agencies are still around to continue their important work.

That’s why we are participating in #GivingTuesdayNow on May 5th. #GivingTuesdayNow is a global day of giving and unity as an emergency response to the unprecedented need caused by COVID-19.

Please consider making a gift to The Health Foundation dedicated to our Community Collaborative Fund to help our community when they need it most. All donations are tax-deductible, and 100% of funds go directly to those in need.

Even in times of crisis, our work is desperately needed. Your support is appreciated now more than ever. When the urgency has lifted, the need to support local agencies will remain.

Alliance Medical Ministry:

A provider of “comprehensive, compassionate and affordable healthcare to working, uninsured adults in Wake County,” Alliance Medical Ministry in Raleigh NC temporarily suspended medical office visits with the onset of COVID. They quickly set up TeleHealth in order to meet with their patients virtually, and shared updates on how they’ve continued to serve with their donors.

AMM recently sent a short email thanking donors and volunteers, giving updates, and offering a way to give by simply saying: Please consider a gift during this pandemic. We are able to continue to serve the community because of your generosity.

The email included this thank-you video.

UNC REX Healthcare:

Based in Raleigh, private not-for-profit healthcare system, UNC REX Healthcare, with a 120-year history, recognizes these months as unprecedented times. “UNC REX is meeting the challenge of addressing the immediate demands of the pandemic while ensuring that other critical healthcare needs remain served,” said Kay Taylor, Director of Strategic Philanthropy at the Rex Healthcare Foundation.

Here are some of the ways Kay Taylor shared that the foundation is responding:

  • Many are reaching out to see how they can be helpful and calls are being answered efficiently.
  • Donors are being thanked in the same timely fashion as during on-site office presence.
  • Staff members are proactively reaching out to supporters to check in and answer any questions. Many meaningful conversations are taking place and recipients have overwhelmingly expressed gratitude for the calls.
  • With the knowledge that cancer and other health concerns do not step back in times of crisis, staff are proactively reaching out to foundations and other prospects for support for two on-going campaigns: the new Cancer Center on the UNC REX campus in Raleigh, and a new community hospital in Holly Springs. Both are on schedule to open in 2021.
  • Continuing scheduled mailings, with messages tailored to the uniqueness of the time.
  • The Rex Open and other scheduled events have been cancelled or postponed, with close monitoring of the recommendations of local and state authorities to determine the most appropriate on-site access in each market, while taking a comprehensive review of available COVID-19-related protocols that can be implemented at each setting. The staff is working closely with sponsors to determine appropriate delegation of committed funding (i.e., some sponsors are asking that their funding be applied to the next Open).

Friends Homes:

A nonprofit, Quaker-affiliated Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) in Greensboro NC, Friends Homes restricted all outside visitation to its campuses as of mid-March. Having recently completed a feasibility study, the CCRC was in the early stages of planning its first major campaign at the time.

The Capital Campaign Planning committee had their first scheduled meeting in early March. “Due to the vulnerability of the senior population, they met via Zoom and have scheduled all monthly meetings likewise,” said Senior Counsel Lilly Bunch.

“Together, the Committee decided there was no reason to not forge forward with planning during this time,” she said. “In fact, it gave us HOPE that this too shall pass!

The focus of the campaign planning meetings has been leadership identification for the capital campaign, and the committee has done an excellent job creating a identifying and evaluating a list of 30 or so potential leaders. Likewise, campaign materials are in process and the committee is scheduled to review first drafts from the designer in May.

Leadership staff are meeting with CapDev weekly to focus on campaign planning, prospect identification and rating. “I think this is a great time for campaign planning,” said Bunch “and the committee members are happy to have some distraction and to focus on the future and all the great plans for the Friends Homes community!”

Novant Health Forsyth Medical Center Foundation:

A recent CapDev campaign client, Novant Health Forsyth Medical Center Foundation is now lead by a recently-named Chief Development Officer. Just as she stepped into her role, the team quickly set up a new landing page with a disaster relief fund to provide financial assistance to team members. They have jumped in to manage food and other donations, including local initiatives, “Fuel the Fight” providing meals, and mask donations from a “Mask the City” effort led by textile manufacturer, Renfro.

Their Doctor’s Day appeal – hard copy and digital went to all past donors in late March, and gained the most traction from providers who sent out challenges to colleagues. Even the executive team of the hospital matched gifts up to $50,000.

Discovering significant needs such as emergency child care for workers led the foundation to an individual donor and local philanthropist who made a large gift to pay for childcare through the medical center’s partnership with the area YMCA.

Creative engagement of the board led to suggestions that board members and others make gifts from their donor advised funds, the perfect time to use them. Ten board members stepped up to a board member’s challenge to each give $5,000 to make a $50,000 contribution for the relief fund.

Yet in the midst of all of these urgent needs, the foundation is highlighting other ongoing needs outside of COVID, such as the cancer center funding, in its upcoming newsletter. And they are researching and applying for grant opportunities.

An important point is to pay special attention to the many new donors (many of them physicians) the foundation has engaged through this crisis, and to work to convert them into annual giving donors.

Overall, the foundation has increased board and donor engagement in this time of crisis, exactly as was recommended in their feasibility study report last year.

Valley Health – Warren Memorial Hospital:

A 65-year-old nonprofit hospital and nursing home in Front Royal VA, Warren Memorial Hospital engaged CapDev for campaign consulting in 2018 and has met with positive outcomes for their region.

The foundation sent an email update to supporters in mid-April checking in with donors, and sharing their support for the health system’s preparedness and response to COVID-19.

“We hope we can provide security to you by being a resource. Up to date information about COVID-19 including: Hospital Visitation, Teleheath Virtual Visits, Corona Virus FAQs, and Ways You Can Help are available on the Valley Health website under Coronavirus (COVID-19) Updates:”

They also highlighted continuing philanthropic efforts among the many ways the community is supporting area hospitals, including managing the “Sew Helpful” homemade mask campaign, generating 10,000 masks in 2 weeks.

Pardee Hospital Foundation:

CapDev is engaged to conduct a search for the Executive Director position in Hendersonville NC, which is currently underway, and posted here.

Appalachian Regional Healthcare Foundation:

ARHF is a current CapDev client supporting Appalachian Regional Healthcare System, which includes Charles A. Cannon, Jr. Memorial Hospital, Watauga Medical Center and Appalachian Regional Medical Associates in the Boone, NC area.

During COVID-19 the foundation is serving as the hub of community support for virus-related medical needs, such as distributing PPE to senior living communities to help ensure their safety. “We have received donations of personal protective equipment from Samaritan’s Purse, Blue Ridge Energies, and the ASU School of Nursing, among many others,” said Rob Hudspeth, president of the foundation.

Additionally, Hudspeth shared in a recent letter to supporters, “a kind woman contacted our office to arrange delivery of $300 worth of dining cards from local businesses that she purchased for our employees on the front lines… and one of our wonderful benefactors donated $10,000 in order to purchase supplies.”

Another donor gave 1,000 face shields and N-95 masks, which he purchased for his textile mill and donated to the hospital.

To further its efforts at community support the foundation has also posted a new page on its website aimed at facilitating community support for COVID needs by offering several ways for people to get involved in various types of giving.

The Work Continues

The challenges for this essential healthcare segment of the nonprofit sector may lie ahead – after the urgent relief responses – as we shift into a rebuilding phase and our communities’ critical healthcare providers realize the hit their revenue streams have endured during this time. The original needs that formed the basis for the establishment of these foundations still exists, and the mission to provide healthcare for our communities at all levels, from pediatric cancer centers to senior centers, still calls for generous philanthropic support.

So the work of philanthropy continues: to educate, enlighten and engage those who care and are able to share generously with their communities in need. Just as with previous advice: don’t stop; do be deliberate, and you too will see the long-term benefits, and perhaps find some silver linings from this incredibly unusual moment in all our lives.

Return to Insights & Events