The shadow side of the rise of big hospital foundation gifts: donation disparities, roller-coaster giving and donor influence

New research shows donations over $500,000 to hospital foundations in Canada are at a ten-year high, but some experts say relying on them to help fund healthcare has downsides.

Why It Matters

If COVID taught us anything it’s this: we need our healthcare system. And yet, Ontario’s current funding policy for capital projects — rebuilding old ambulance bays, purchasing MRI machines, and building new wings — relies, in part, on philanthropy. Some experts say that this leaves the system vulnerable to health disparities.

This journalism ​​is made possible by the Future of Good editorial fellowship covering the social impact world’s rapidly changing funding models, supported by Future of Good, Community Foundations of Canada, and United Way Centraide Canada. See our editorial ethics and standards here.

In late June, under a hot sun, Aatif Baskanderi spoke to an assembled crowd of nurses, doctors, and hospital foundation staff in Scarborough, Ontario, on the territory of the Mississaugas of the Credit, Anishnabeg, Chippewa, Haudenosaunee and the Wendat. He was all smiles. It was a historic day. Baskanderi, the CEO of the Northpine Foundation, was there to announce a donation of $20 million dollars — the largest gift the Scarborough Health Network Foundation has ever received. 


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