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Outside experts can help with capital campaign
Educate community, bankers about hospice
One of the biggest challenges encountered by hospice administrators and board members who want to build an inpatient facility is funding the project, says Jim Faulkner, AIA, NCARB, LEED AP, president of Dayton, OH-based Matrix Architects, an architectural firm that specializes in hospice.
"Many hospices have relied upon smaller, event-oriented fundraising efforts," explains Faulkner. Although grass-roots, word-of-mouth fundraising is effective for supporting many hospice programs, a 12-bed inpatient unit will cost between $5 million and $10 million, he says.
"To raise this amount of money, a hospice needs a well-coordinated capital gift campaign that solicits specific individuals or companies for sizeable gifts," Faulkner says. "If a hospice does not have this expertise on staff or on the board, a professional fundraiser should be considered." Faulkner recommends networking with other hospice managers at conferences and meetings to find good fundraisers for hospice. (Editor's note: The Association of Fundraising Professionals, at www.afpnet.org, also can serve as a resource.)
The current economy will affect your ability to raise funds, so be realistic, warns Pat Stropko-O'Leary, executive director of Hospice of Medina County in Medina, OH. "We've always received great support from our community, so when we started our capital campaign, we set a goal of raising $5 million to cover half of the anticipated cost of the building," she says. "We did receive some large gifts from unexpected sources, but we soon realized that we were not realistic about what we would raise."
Setting the goal at $2.2 million was more realistic. When the hospice broke ground in March 2010, almost half of the money had been raised. "The campaign will continue throughout the building of the facility to raise the remainder of the money to pay construction expenses," Stropko-O'Leary adds.
When you are contacting local companies about support for the facility, don't forget in-kind donations, suggests Faulkner. "A building supply company or a subcontractor might donate a certain amount of supplies or labor rather than cash," he says. "One project we handled received a donation of $300,000 worth of brick and stone from a local company."
Although you might not have the architectural or fundraising expertise for the project locally, work with local banks for financing, suggests Stropko-O'Leary. "We solicited loan proposals from local banks and are using a combination of loans from a local bank and a low-interest government loan from the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture's (USDA's) Rural Development Program [www.rurdev.usda.gov]," she says. "We learned that we qualified for the USDA loan from one of the local bankers."
Be prepared to educate people about hospice when you submit your loan request, warns Stropko-O'Leary. "We were the first hospice to apply for a loan with the bank, so the person assessing the viability of our business plan for the facility tried to compare our business to nursing homes," she says. Because the design of the hospice's building included administrative offices for the home health agency, the home care hospice service, in addition to the inpatient facility, the assessor focused on the number of offices compared to the number of inpatient beds, Stropko-O'Leary says.
"He kept saying that having 24 offices to support 16 beds did not make sense," she says. "We had to explain that the 24 offices were not just to support the beds, but also to support all of the home-based patients, the bereavement center, our fundraising, our counseling, and all of the other community outreach services we offer."
Unlike a nursing home or hospital, most of the hospice's patient care takes place out of the building, because they see most patients in their own homes. That is something most loan officers don't understand, she says.