Open Accessibility Menu

Community Benefit Planning

What Are Community Benefits?

Community benefits are programs or activities that provide treatment and/or promote health and healing as a response to identified community needs. They increase access to health care and improve community health.
A community benefit must respond to an identified community need and meet at least one of the following criteria:

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

How do health care organizations provide community benefits?

Health care organizations implement a comprehensive framework for planning, delivering and reporting their community benefit efforts. This framework includes the following elements:

  • Build a sustainable infrastructure — Create a culture that supports the organization's community benefit mission and put in place operational elements that sustain community benefit programs such as qualified staff, sufficient budgets, and supportive policies and procedures.
  • Plan for community benefit — Work with public health experts and community partners to assess and prioritize community health needs and develop programs based on goals, measurable outcomes and evidence-based interventions.
  • Account for community benefit — Adopt standardized principles and practices to account for community benefit and establish effective administrative and accounting processes to accurately account for and report community benefit to various stakeholders, including the IRS and state/local agencies.
  • Evaluate community benefit programs — Assess the quality and effectiveness of the overall program and individual programs and activities.
  • Tell the community benefit story — Report the organization's community benefit efforts as required to regulatory bodies (such as the IRS or state/local agencies) and to communities and other important constituencies such as hospital staff, physicians and donors.