Did you know that nurses and the nursing profession receive a very small portion of charitable gifts in the United States? While 90% of care in hospitals is provided by nurses, most grateful patient contributions aren’t directed to nursing priorities.
There are bright lights of change, however. Two examples are the Rita and Alex Hillman Foundation, which makes significant investments in nursing innovation, and Howard and Rose-Marie “Rory” Meyers, who contributed to support nursing education at New York University’s now renamed Rory Meyers College of Nursing
A third example is individual philanthropist Bernie Park, MSN, RN, ANP, who is pursuing her doctorate at Yale School of Nursing and beginning to formalize her personal commitment to creating a legacy of giving. A mother of two, an active community leader, and a Connecticut Nurses Association member, Park has begun to create a family foundation—a charitable organization typically funded by a single family or corporation.
While volunteering in her community, Park witnessed firsthand both the role and impact of key community organizations. “I started with fundraising to support programs focused on health and education for women and children and have served on various philanthropic boards,” she said. “Seeing the impact and reach of these organizations has led me to develop my own philanthropic and leadership approach.”
Part of the power of nurses’ giving is that it allows for discernment—determining what gets supported and how. This is another form of nursing leadership— the ability to influence outcomes by directing where resources are placed. “Within my own family foundation, I will have a unique platform to assume a leadership role as a nurse, collaborate with community partners, and determine the kind of engagement and advocacy work that is needed to impact change and improve health as well as advance the nursing profession,” Park said. “This will enable me to better leverage my expertise, especially in healthcare. Using the nursing lens, I will develop the mission and strategic plan for our foundation to further impact the health of my community and support nursing.”
What can you do?
You don’t have to have significant financial resources to make a difference. Here are some suggestions:
- Set aside a portion of your annual gifts to charity to specifically support nursing and nurses. This could be supporting a national effort like helping improve the well-being of nurses through the American Nurses Foundation’s Healthy Nurse, Healthy NationTM Fund or supporting a nurse-led clinic or nursing education fund in your local community.
- Ask your employer if a special fund to support nursing exists, perhaps for education or research. If not, suggest starting one to enhance care by supporting nurses’ growth and development.
- Have an answer ready when someone says, “I’m so grateful for what you [or another nurse] did for me and my family, how can I show my appreciation?” Suggest a fund at your organization that specifically supports nursing, a local Nurse-Family Partnership program, or ANA’s national campaign to “Honor a Nurse”.