Ever wondered if the myths you hear about children's hospitals are true? Here's a comparison of what people often expect from a children's hospital and the reality of them.
Expectation: Children's hospitals have an abundance of funding.
The truth is, most children's hospitals struggle to balance their budget between equipment, treatment, and other essential expenses. This is especially true for nonprofit hospitals, which rely entirely on donations while almost all of their money goes straight to covering critical costs.
Meanwhile, while major hospitals like St. Jude may bring in millions of dollars each year thanks to elaborate fundraising efforts, it's the smaller hospitals that are often in the position to make the biggest impact for a smaller community. Yet, they substantially lack funding to do everything they'd like to do.
Expectation: Most of their donations go straight to administration.
It's unfortunate that donors have become wary of giving money to organizations due to a number of exposés in recent years that have revealed mismanagement of money at certain organizations. However, it's important to realize that not every organization out there (in fact, very few of them) take donations and waste them on executive pay or "administrative" costs.
Nonprofits are required to publish financial statements, and you can trust that they're closely scrutinized. Plus, the best organizations will do the right thing anyhow. Take St. Jude, for example, which puts nearly 80% of all donations directly toward the cost of providing treatment and care. Meanwhile, about 16% goes to essential fundraising efforts — and, before you think that's a waste of money, remember that these efforts enable St. Jude to continue collecting their much-needed donations, and they more than pay for themselves.
Expectation: Children's hospitals always provide free care.
Some people think that children's hospitals only serve needy families, while others are under the impression that they provide free care to anyone. At the same time, some have heard that children's hospitals -- even the ones that promise free care, like St. Jude -- actually end up charging families in some manner. The reality is that a family's hospital bills will depend on the hospital they go to, the treatment required, their insurance situation, and a number of other factors.
Most children's hospitals, whether for-profit or nonprofit, devote some amount of their money toward charity care (i.e., completely free). Usually, this charity care is reserved for needy families, but not always. To know the truth, you first have to choose a specific hospital, as each one handles things differently based on their mission, budget, and priorities.
Expectation: An individual can't make a big impact.
Last, but most certainly not least, many people believe that they can't make a big impact all on their own. In reality, this couldn't be further from the truth. Every dollar counts for a children's hospital, especially for a smaller nonprofit one. Plus, making a direct monetary donation is far from the only way you can help.
Getting creative and investing time to multiply your efforts by involving your community is the single most impactful way to help a children's hospital. If you're looking for ideas, consider running a crayon donation drive. Not only can an individual set it up by getting local businesses involved, but companies can be inspired to do the same in order to meet their corporate social responsibility goals.
Just one large box of donated crayons can produce enough boxes for more than 125 hospitalized children. Interested in learning more? Click here.