The Chronicle of Philanthropy is reporting that Sen. Grassley is continuing his push to increase regulations on nonprofit hospitals.

I work in one and didn’t think the regulation could get any tighter–especially for small community hospitals with a large reliance on Medicaid and Medicare!

His focus and intensity on this issue seems to me to be a personal vendetta. More like an obsession. There are definitely a few bad apples in the barrel. But I think the big problem is that for decades (centuries?) hospitals have assumed that people know what they’re doing. It’s as though most hospitals are asleep at the wheel of the “who’s telling your story” bus.

Fortunately, folks like the Catholic Health Association have pioneered defining “community benefit.” These tools are helping hospitals like mine shape the narrative and tell the stories of all the ways we’re giving back to our communities including things like:

  • charity care,
  • care for people who never pay,
  • donations in the community,
  • employees’ involvement with other community organizations.

But we should’ve been ahead of the curve on this one. We should’ve seen the changes in public perception before a high profile politician turned his sites on us.

What about you? What if your nonprofit were put in Sen. Grassley’s crosshairs? How would you fare?

And more importantly, what are you doing to shape your story now, before you need to?

Because in reality, all of un in the nonprofit world need to be excellent at communicating our story, now. It’s all about engaging and thanking our donors and fans.

If we don’t tell our stories, somebody else will. And chances are it won’t be shaped in the way we would prefer.

If we don’t, we’ll be obsolete before we can even ask if anyone got the license plate of the bus that hit us.

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