May 20, 2021

Community Benefits Reporting - Balancing Requirements with Results

Community benefit reporting has evolved from check-the-box compliance to measuring public health impact. Ensure your grants management software enables reporting that does both.

As a nonprofit hospital or health system, assessing impact can further your organizational mission and ensure your efforts are making a difference. Learn how a grants management system can provide your community benefits team with everything they need to remain compliant while measuring important public health outcomes.

The Purpose of Community Benefits Reporting

As you know, federal tax law requires nonprofit hospital organizations to spend some of their surplus on community benefits, or goods and services that address a community need. Created in 1969 by the IRS, the community benefit standard provides a tax exemption to nonprofit hospitals and health organizations that promote community health by reinvesting surplus funds to improve it. 

Shifting to an Outcomes Focus to Improve Communities

Since its inception, community benefit reporting focused more on inputs - such as dollars spent - rather than outcomes - like measurable community impact. It was enough to check the box that your organization did something for the community without reporting how effective it was. 

However, under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), a new reporting measure, Form 990 Schedule H, was added to examine outcomes in addition to dollars spent. This welcomed shift encouraged nonprofit hospitals to focus more on their missions, measuring the true impact of their community benefit efforts. 

What are the Community Benefits Reporting Team’s Requirements?

First and foremost, community benefit teams must ensure that their programs address a community need. Every three years they conduct a Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA). The CHNA must identify community health needs and a strategy on how the non-profit healthcare system will remedy those needs or further close a gap.

The federal government says that a community benefit program must do one or more of the following:

  • Improve access to health care services
  • Enhance community health
  • Advance medical or healthcare knowledge
  • Reduce government or other community efforts’ financial burden 

In addition to federal community benefits guidelines, some states have their own. These may differ from federal guidelines so it’s important to know your state guidelines too, especially since states may be stricter. For example, some states mandate how much you must spend per year on community benefits. 

Making Data Even More Meaningful

When grantmaking is part of community benefits, defining grant impact through outcome measures can take a little more thought as it can feel more intangible than revenue spent. However, by gathering this sort of data, your organization can create even better public health initiatives. When measuring impact, look to your qualitative information and community influence to figure out what to measure.   

For example, a hospital might establish a gun safety initiative in their pediatric department, providing healthcare professionals’ with training on asking about gun safety at home. This initiative might also include a grant to a local community education group to prevent gun violence in the community. Reporting would now include the outcome measure of reduction in child injury and death at home from guns in addition to the funding amount the hospital used for the initiative. 

By using outcome-driven data, you’ll determine if your community health investments are having the desired effect and discover areas for program refinement. This richer data will aid your future community benefits efforts, ensuring they’re having the desired effect - improving community health.  

A Grants Management System Can Help You Succeed

When it comes to community benefits there are many moving parts. Your team need a one-stop shop for staying organized and reporting quantitative and qualitative outcomes. One way to do so is through a grant management system for hospitals. With a platform as part of your community benefit efforts, you can:

  • Collect clean data
  • Communicate easily with grantees and program managers
  • Ensure grant compliance
  • Easily manage grant report outcomes with our tailored options 
  • Effectively track and analyze your community impact data with ease


While remaining compliant and measuring the financial aspects of your programs remain important, measuring public health outcomes launches you one step closer to improving public health outcomes. By using outcome-based measures, you will have even more data to showcase how your community benefit programs are positively affecting community health and education. A grants management system will help your community benefits team remain compliant and measure grant outcomes with ease. 


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Topic(s): Grants Management

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