I understand your challenge and have a couple of thoughts. I would start with the mission of those who started the hospital. If yours is a faith-based hospital, I believe it is easy to make the connection to the founding faith group and the importance of being true to that mission. The mission of the hospital is why you provide outreach to the vulnerable in the community; community benefit is how you engage. If yours is a community hospital, there was most likely a group of dedicated community members, physicians, etc. who saw a need in the community to offer medical care. Again, community benefit continues that legacy.
There is also the very real, practical reason for community benefit activities – it is essential to quantify to the IRS what you are doing to ensure your non-profit status. More and more, congressional members (both state and federal), unions and others are challenging the favorable tax status provided to non-profit hospitals. It is imperative that your work provides the necessary documentation to respond to these challenges.
We have found that our Boards, Senior Leadership and employee population really relate to the human interest aspect of community benefit. While the numbers served and dollars spent are impressive, it is the individual stories: about how a mother got her diabetes under control and is now passing on her improved habits to her family – or how an afterschool program helped a struggling teen finish high school – or how a homeless person was connected to a shelter, these are the stories that fuel the passion in others for our work. It is also how we are changing people’s lives so they can enjoy better health outside the walls of the hospital. If your Marketing department provides press releases, it also generates positive news for the hospital.
I ended up writing more than I thought I would – sorry! I just get so excited about the work and the positive impact I have seen in our community.