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California hospitals saw drop in utilization, rise in revenue in 2020 | Philanthropy news

While acute care hospitals in California saw declines in inpatient admissions, outpatient visits, and emergency visits amid the COVID-19 pandemic, total inpatient and outpatient volume in 2020 was down by only 5 percent from 2019 levels, a report from the California Health Care Foundation finds.

Based on data from 355 acute care hospitals in the state, the report, The Financial Impact of COVID-19 on California Hospitals: January 2020 Through June 2021 (19 pages, PDF), found that after the governor issued a “shelter-in-place” order and requested that hospitals discontinue elective admissions and nonurgent care, hospital discharges and outpatient visits fell 20 percent and 29 percent, respectively, on a year-over-year basis in the second quarter and remained in negative territory through the end of the year. Data from the first half of 2021 show that hospital utilization is still below pre-COVID-19 levels — inpatient admissions are down 7 percent and emergency department visits are down 23 percent compared with 2019. Given those trends and recent increases in COVID-19 case rates, the report’s authors note that hospital utilization in 2021 will likely remain below 2019 levels.

The study also found that while hospitals’ net income fell to $3.47 billion in 2020 from $7.96 billion in 2019, net patient revenue rose $1.3 billion, or 1 percent, driven largely by increased revenue from the Medi-Cal program. Even as net patient service revenue from third-party payers — the largest segment — declined by 3 percent, net revenue from Medicare and Medi-Cal increased 2 percent and more than 10 percent, respectively. According to the report, the increase in Medicare net revenue can be attributed in part to the 20 percent increase in reimbursement for diagnoses related to COVID-19 patients and a temporary halt to the 2 percent Medicare payment reduction, while the increase in Medi-Cal revenue was driven in part by various supplemental hospital payments for prior-year services unrelated to COVID-19.

At the same time, the pandemic pushed total operating expenses up by 8 percent, in part as a result of “shortages of almost all needed inputs — labor, equipment, and COVID-19-related PPE” — and higher case-mix severity and average length of stay, including longer-stay COVID-19 patients. “The biggest negative effects of COVID-19 on hospital net incomes came not from volume declines but from rising operational costs,” the report’s authors write. “Most of these increased expenses are likely tied directly to the added costs of providing the necessary resources and capacity to safely operate during the infectious COVID-19 pandemic.”

“An important part of the story of hospital finances in 2020 was the role of the federal government in providing subsidies to hospitals in anticipation of increased COVID-19-related costs and reduced volume due to shutdowns,” the authors conclude. “The data gathered for this report suggest that these subsidies were critical in stabilizing the financial status of many California hospitals.”

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One-third of donors directed half their giving to disaster relief | Philanthropy news

Last year, 37 percent of American donors gave half or more of their charitable contributions to disaster relief efforts, and 64 percent gave to a charity they had never supported before, a survey commissioned by Vanguard Charitable finds.

Conducted by the Harris Poll on behalf of Vanguard Charitable, the survey of more than 1,300 American donors found that the top reasons American donors gave to disaster relief included wanting to assist those impacted by humanitarian crises (46 percent), feeling overwhelmed by a situation and wanting to help (33 percent), seeing charitable giving as the only way they could provide support (30 percent), and having a personal connection to the disaster/crisis (30 percent). The survey found that donors who contributed to disaster relief efforts gave more overall, meaning that disaster relief giving did not take away from, or occur in place of, ongoing giving. 

“From COVID-19 to a devastating humanitarian crisis caused by the war in Ukraine, we’ve seen donors respond to disaster relief needs in inspiring and meaningful ways,” said Vanguard Charitable president Rebecca Moffett. “In fact, this data reflects that disaster relief support is an integral part of the giving landscape, often increasing total generosity as donors look to give when and where support is needed most. And because the money in donor-advised funds has already been set aside for charitable purposes, donations from DAFs tend to be more responsive in moments of crisis, and more resilient during moments of economic uncertainty.”

(Photo credit: Getty Images/Drazen Zigic)

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Trust in nonprofits fell slightly last year, survey finds | Philanthropy news

While there is room for U.S. institutions across the board to increase public trust, a majority of respondents believe nonprofits will do what is right for society, a survey conducted by Independent Sector finds. 

Conducted in February in partnership with Edelman Data & Intelligence, the third-annual Trust in Civil Society survey found that 56 percent of Americans said they trust nonprofits, down 3 percentage points from the 2020 benchmark study (59 percent). Trust in philanthropy edged down from 36 percent to 34 percent during the same period. According to the survey, financial well-being and education are major drivers of trust, and trust of nonprofits among women fell during the pandemic.

Given the findings, Independent Sector recommended that nonprofits work to make greater progress to support and strengthen the country, for example by leveraging trust in the social sector to strengthen U.S. democracy, deepening engagement with communities and institutions, and upholding public expectations of government accountability.

“Increasing public trust of institutions and the social sector is a pressing issue for the U.S. We all benefit from strong public trust,” said Independent Sector president and CEO Daniel J. Cardinali. “Trust is the priceless currency for nonprofits, philanthropies, business charity programs, and all of us to build a healthy, equitable society. We see what happens when trust breaks. Our 2022 Independent Sector Trust in Civil Society report elevates important data and recommendations for conversations about how the social sector can engage more deeply and do better so everyone in our country thrives.” 

(Photo credit: Getty Images/SDI Productions)

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Digital, other channels of giving are expanding, study finds | Philanthropy news

Emerging trends in the United Kingdom and Brazil reveal an expansion of digital and other types of channels for giving, including online giving, crowdfunding, charity rounding up, and social impact publishing, a new research series from the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at IUPUI finds.

The research series, Digital for Good: A Global Study on Emerging Ways of Giving, builds on the school’s Global Philanthropy Environment Index and Global Philanthropy Tracker and will be released in phases over the next five months. The first two studies examine philanthropic engagement in Brazil and the UK prior to and throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, with profiles of China, India, Kenya, Singapore, South Africa, and South Korea to follow.

Based on an analysis of three case studies in Brazil, the first profile found that prominent emerging ways of giving include charity rounding up, crowdfunding, and social impact publishing, which involves the production of inspiring, revenue-producing editorial content. Donations collected through rounding up for charity via Arredondar increased from BRL1,091 in 2013 (equivalent to $590 in 2021, adjusted for inflation) to more than BRL1.6 million in 2020 (equivalent to $330,186 in 2021, adjusted for inflation). In addition, the study found that the most successful initiatives prioritized transparency and accountability in giving.

Based on an online survey of nearly 3,000 individuals in the UK, the profile found that prominent expanded methods of giving include online giving and crowdfunding. Among donors interviewed between May and July 2021, 60 percent reported that gifts they had made in the past year had been made online, with the most common way being through a third-party app. In addition, researchers found that 63 percent of people who used social media to request donations also made requests in person.

“The results of the first two country profiles suggest an evolution in giving practices and highlight a significant expansion of digital giving practices and peer-to-peer giving,” said Amir Pasic, the Eugene R. Tempel Dean of the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. “While these findings are the first in a series, the documented growth in digital giving and shifting donor expectations in the UK and in Brazil reinforce existing evidence that digital practices can help democratize the practice of philanthropy. Digital innovation makes philanthropy accessible and fosters greater transparency and accountability for how gifts lead to impact.”

(Photo credit: Getty Images)

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