Question: Our hospital runs a community health resource center. The center provides free resources to the community, including a space for patients to research health issues from books, videos, and Internet. The space is also used for free "Ask An Expert" events, and will be available this year as a place for students to study and do research. It is staffed by a part-time employee and volunteers who provide health information via phone, in person, and email. A small part of the space is used for retail items and some marketing materials.
How much of the costs to run the resources center can be counted as a community benefit? Can we include the employee's wages?
Recommendation: We recommend reporting this activity under category A1. Community Health Education as long as you can document it is related to a community health need. We recommend estimating the percentage of time/space that constitutes marketing and retail. If the percentage of total cost that supports marketing and retail is less than half (because IRS instructions related to defining community benefit say that the primary purpose of the activity should be to address community need) then apply the percentage of cost that supports the community benefit aspects of the center to the all costs (space costs/employee wages) to determine what can be counted as community benefit.