In an economy still dazed in the aftermath of the recession, a focus on philanthropic giving can take a back seat to balance sheets and revenue projections. But, as a Page 1 story in this week’s Memphis Business Journal illustrates, those two considerations are not far separated.
A report released last month by the Giving USA Foundation and the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University showed total charitable contributions during 2011 grew by a meager four percent to $298.42 billion. A follow-up at Philanthropy.com predicted it would take until 2022, or even later, to return to donation levels last seen in 2007, when donations were more than 17 percent higher than they were in the subsequent two years.
The Med Foundation — the fund raising and public awareness arm of The Regional Medical Center at Memphis — has bucked that trend, however.
According to Tammie Ritchey, the foundation’s executive director, total giving from fiscal year 2011 to 2012 increased seven percent. While that figure may not seem like much, Ritchey reported a 54 percent increase in the amount that The Med’s physicians donated over that period.
“That speaks to The Med working on their relationships with their doctors and getting them engaged with the organization at a different level,” Ritchey said. “While they work here, they’re still donors and they won’t invest in something they think won’t make it.”
Ritchey shared a similar sentiment about all of the foundation’s donors in today’s story on The Med’s financial turnaround.
Compared to 2010, when donations were as low as Ritchey has seen them in her eight-year tenure, total contributions in fiscal 2012 were up 70 percent.
The year preceding, the foundation’s dismal 2010 was even more harrowing for the hospital itself — a year in which The Med operated at a loss of more than $20 million. Having posted net income exceeding $74 million in fiscal 2011, things are looking up at the once-beleaguered institution, however — and for its philanthropic counterpart.
The reason, Ritchey told MBJ, is simple.
“That’s because people don’t want to save an organization as much as they want to invest in a sound organization that’s proven successful,” she said.