Saint Alphonsus Health System

What is Community Benefit?

Community benefits are programs or activities that provide treatment or promote health and healing as a response to identified community needs and meet at least one of these objectives:

  • Improve access to health care service.
  • Enhance the health of the community.
  • Advance medical or health care knowledge.
  • Relieve or reduce the burden of government or other community efforts.

It implies collaboration with a "community" to "benefit" its residents- particularly the poor, minorities, and other underserved groups-by improving health status and quality of life.

Why is Community Benefit Important?

Providing community benefits demonstrates that not-for-profit health care organizations are fulfilling their mission of community service and meeting their charitable tax-exempt purpose as community benefit organizations. The IRS 990 H directs organizations to "describe how the organization assesses the health care needs of the community it serves." Community Benefit Programs must specify community benefit goals and objectives and/or strategies. An organized approach to planning, reporting and evaluating community benefits is more important today than ever before, for several reasons:

  • It helps identify community needs and provides the information required to make prudent choices as to the use of scarce resources to best help those in need.
  • Proactive budgeting and the use of standardized accounting will make the financing of the community benefit program more predictable, sustainable, comparable and credible.
  • A deliberate approach will facilitate building important relationships in the community and lead to involvement in community-wide efforts to improve access to services and community health.

Community Benefit Program Planning

Community benefit program planning involves writing goals and objectives, selecting methods to present your program, creating a budget and developing a timeline. These tools will help evaluate what programs and activities are community benefit, how to count those activities as community benefit, and help understand the categorizing process.