Sign Of Economic Hard Times: Shriners Hospitals Seriously Ailing Financially And Some Could Close
It’s yet another sign of economic times — when in addition to businesses failing, home foreclosures galore, and a whopping number of jobs vanishing, charities and organizations are experiencing huge shortfalls in donations.
And now it has hit the Shriners — a group that also found its endowment battered by the stock market decline:
The future of all 22 Shriners Hospitals for Children will be up for discussion at an annual business meeting in July, contrary to a media report this week that said four hospitals would close, a spokeswoman for the organization said Friday.
The board of trustees of the Tampa, Fla.-based organization has not voted yet on whether to close any hospitals, said Marlena Lagina-Kleine, vice president for communications and development.
Lagina-Kleine said the board had not voted to close four of the group’s eight research centers and to lay off about 40 people at its administrative office, as the Associated Press had reported.
The Shriners Hospital in Honolulu is undergoing a $73-million expansion, one of the largest in the Shriners organization. The project, which began in August 2007, is expected to be finished by 2010.
At the Imperial Session, the organization’s annual business meeting, in San Antonio in July, “We will talk about all 22 hospitals in the system and the fact that the endowment has been underperforming, like most health-care systems in the country,” Lagina-Kleine said.
The Register-Mail in Illinois has more details:
In the wake of an economic downturn, officials with Shriners Hospitals for Children have discussed closing some of their hospitals. While the hospitals in St. Louis and Chicago are safe, Shriners groups in Springfield and Rockford are still trying to figure out ways to make up for shrinking donation dollars.
“We got hit by the stock market,” said Springfield-based Ansar Shriners spokesman Danny Coker. “They’re really noticing it nationally, but we’re noticing it locally as well.”
That spells trouble for the 22 free children’s hospitals that the Shriners support in the United States, Canada and Mexico – six of which may face closure, according to The Associated Press. These hospitals are supported by the fraternal organization’s endowment, which has shrunk from $8 billion to $5 billion in less than a year, thanks to the stock market’s decline.
And because of an anemic economy, the Shriners are also raising less money in donations.
The Ansar Shriners raise around $250,000 in donations each year, said Coker. Much of that money goes to the endowment. But with people less willing to make charitable donations, Coker estimates that the total money raised by the group this year could drop by as much as 20 percent.
To compensate, the Ansar Shriners are going to more local events to reach out to greater numbers of potential donors.
“We’re trying to get our message out there more so people see what we do,” said Coker.
Shriners in Rockford are also feeling the pinch.
To donate to the Shriners hospitals, GO HERE