How millionaires can contribute to healthcare: charity revisited

By Freek Lapré | June 24, 2015 | 1 min read

A millionaire with intensive care needs will end up in similar circumstances as someone without money, he only pays more. Many millionaires give money to charity. Freek Lapré wonders if one cannot be combined with the other. 

Image: © Nationale Beeldbank

During the presentation of the “Dutch Wealth Report” by Van Lanschot Bankiers, I gave a lecture on the developments in care for the elderly. The meeting also discussed the uniformity of the offer. It may be that as a millionaire with intensive care needs you end up in similar circumstances as someone who has a lot less money. The only difference is that your contribution is higher. The United States has in this respect a much more differentiated offer based on as many business models.

Another thing the Dutch Wealth Report showed, is that a substantial number of Dutch millionaires intend to either leave their capital to charities or donate it to charity during life. And that fact is interesting in combination with the uniformity of the offer.

In striving for a participatory society, the government tries to enforce mutual assistance by narrowing the basic care package, through higher personal contributions, and by having citizens pay more themselves. Healthcare institutions see their revenues decline further and are forced to take austerity measures.

In the United States charity is more alive than in the Netherlands simply because the government regulates healthcare much less than in our country. There, healthcare is partly dependent on the generosity of (wealthy) citizens. A few years ago, I visited the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. A large oncology wing had just been completed that was entirely paid for by a generous donor. The name of the generous donor was attached to the wing. The Dutch directors who were with me said that such a financial donation was nice, but that there is no structural budget for the maintenance of the buildings. But what is structural money? 

Healthcare institutions in the United States manage to get 30% of their revenue from charitable contributions. They employ special officers for this purpose who do nothing but try to obtain funds from philanthropic institutions or philanthropically minded Americans. The Mayo Clinic’s website has a separate section: Giving to Mayo Clinic. It appeals to the impact you can make with a financial contribution. This is supported by stories from other donors. And the possibility to enter your credit card number.

The findings of the Dutch Wealth Report show that our country has sufficient potential generous donors. Healthcare institutions can realize a structural flow of charitable revenue by, for example, hiring someone who is engaged full-time in acquiring such revenues. That is how you make this income structural. This income will, of course, be different each year, but that should be no problem if you manage to maintain these alternative funding levels. 

Is the American model for charitable contributions perhaps an example for Dutch healthcare institutions?

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