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A Love Letter to Philanthropy Officers: Part 2


February is often referred to as “the Month of Love,” so what better time is there to celebrate the true meaning of philanthropy, which is all about love? Originating from the Greek word, philanthrōpía, philanthropy quite literally means “love of humankind.” This five-part series will celebrate philanthropy and serve as a love letter to philanthropy officers by offering perspectives on the opportunities in health care philanthropy for prospective donors to realize their goals. Continue reading for Part 2 of the series or begin with Part 1.

Dear Philanthropy Officer,

This heartfelt letter is dedicated to addressing the ever-present question that often arises from prospective health care donors: “If I pay a medical bill, why should I also support my hospital with donations?” Let’s explore the answer together.

First off, supporting your hospital through philanthropy is beneficial because it provides you, as a donor, an opportunity to advance excellence and foster innovation.

To advance excellence, alignment with the strategic plan is crucial in health care philanthropy. However, the gap between what the hospital has budgeted for your community’s needed project and the added leverage philanthropy brings to the table can often feel vast. Philanthropic dollars can be the difference between adequacy and excellence. For instance, if you are a parent of a newborn in the NICU, philanthropy can be the difference between a standard incubator and an Omnibed with significantly more features to keep your premature or ill infant healthy, warm and thriving.

…philanthropy is beneficial because it provides…an opportunity to advance excellence and foster innovation.

Your taxes and medical bill may only help to support the cost of the incubator. If it was within your means, wouldn’t you want all premature and ill infants in your community to rest and heal in the best possible environment?

Additionally, no other type of nonprofit organization demands innovation at the level of health care. Philanthropy allows for innovation. For instance, the rapid development of the COVID-19 vaccine would not have been possible without health care philanthropy. Amid the chaos of the pandemic, you may have overlooked the fact that individuals and foundations continued their funding and even stepped up to advance funding for vaccines.

The Financial Times noted, “Charitable dollars can still play a crucial role. Philanthropy advisors say donors are free from the burdens of politics that often hamper policymakers and from the profit drive that influences companies. This can allow philanthropists to back very long-term research and bring together disparate groups of partners, including universities, research laboratories and other donors.”¹ This philanthropic influence is evident in figures like Dolly Parton, already a beloved figure, being honored for her funding at Vanderbilt University, the very institution that partnered with Moderna for their vaccine development.²

Ultimately, to innovate, you need flexibility. And philanthropic dollars, under careful direction, provide you the flexibility needed to innovate more in health care than in any other nonprofit sector.

So, to sum it all up, supporting your hospital through philanthropy extends beyond covering medical bills and presents you, as a donor, with a unique opportunity to contribute not only to the present but also to help shape a future where excellence and innovation define the standard of health care in your community.

Accordant Perspectives_Love Letter to Philanthropy Officers Part 2
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About the Author: Heather Wiley Starankovic, CFRE, CAP®, is a Principal Consultant with Accordant. She is dedicated to supporting staff members and creating programs that keep talented and dedicated servant leaders withing the field. You can reach Heather by email at or by connecting through LinkedIn.


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The Accordant Team has published a number of books to advance the efforts of health care philanthropy and help development leaders everywhere. 

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Accordant is honored to collaborate with American Hospital Association Trustee Services to provide issue papers, templates and webinars to support the involvement of healthcare trustees and foundation board members in advancing philanthropy. These resources can also be found on the AHA Trustee website.

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