Acceptance of Outside Funding

SCOPE OF POLICY

The American Hospital Association and its affiliate organizations and subsidiaries are committed to upholding the highest standards of ethical behavior.   The AHA is the national advocate for its members, provides education for health care leaders, and is a source of information on health care issues and trends.  To achieve its goals and maintain the public’s trust, it is important that its name and reputation be held in the highest regard.  

The AHA’s activities are primarily funded by member dues.  To provide additional financial support for carrying out its mission and achieving its goals, the AHA solicits and/or accepts funding from businesses and other organizations that share an interest in the goals and objectives of the AHA.   It is understood that those who provide financial support also receive the benefit of aligning themselves with the AHA and its good reputation.  This policy describes the governing principles and guidelines that will apply across the AHA organization (AHA, affiliates and subsidiaries, referred to inclusively in this policy as “AHA”) for the solicitation, acceptance and use of outside funding.   

Applicability

This policy applies to any solicitation or acceptance of financial support through which a company, organization, or individual (“Funder”) receives the benefit of aligning its name and/or products or services with the AHA.   Outside funding received in exchange for advertising, as described below, will not generally be considered “financial support” subject to this policy.

The solicitation and acceptance of financial support must be for purposes consistent with the AHA’s mission and to advance achievement of its objectives.  

The AHA has complete discretion to accept or decline financial support.

The acceptance of financial support may not compromise the integrity of the AHA event or activity.

The AHA maintains control over the use of its name and/or logo by the Funder. 

The receipt of financial support and the name of the Funder are transparent whether an event or activity is directly paid for by, or results from, the financial relationship with the Funder.

A written agreement is signed by the AHA and the Funder documenting the acceptance of funding and its intended use, as well as providing for control to be exercised by AHA as required below.

Procedure

1. Form of Funding

Financial support can take many forms including, but not limited to, exhibiting, sponsorships, grants, donations, and endorsements.   (Advertising is not treated as financial support, as defined in this document, if it meets the requirements set out under the heading “Advertisement,” below.)

2. Independence

The AHA will exercise control over the editorial or substantive content of any program, event, activity, publication or communication supported by outside funding.   The type of AHA event or activity for which outside funding is typically used includes a meeting, event, education program or material, e- or print- publication, and awards.  In this document, AHA “event or activity” is used as shorthand for the variety of opportunities for which outside funding may be accepted. 

Generally, a proposal for funding will originate with the AHA.   At its discretion, AHA may accept proposals from an outside Funder for consideration, or accept input from a Funder on a proposal developed by the AHA.   AHA will exercise control, whether the idea originated with the AHA or the Funder, and whether the funding is for a general or specific purpose.  In all circumstances, the AHA will control the editorial or substantive content (e.g., choice of speakers, subject matter, and content of presentations or articles).   It is understood that financial support through grants or charitable donations may be for designated purposes and deliverables.   The primary control in those circumstances is in deciding whether to accept the funding; editorial and content control would still be exercised within the parameters of the agreed upon scope of work.  When the activity is endorsement of a product or service, control of editorial or content relates to promotional or similar materials referencing the AHA.  Additionally, in the case of an endorsement, control would include a requirement that the product or service retain the same quality level as that which resulted in the original endorsement.

3. Transparency of Funding and Recognition of Funder.

General
It is essential that the use of outside funding be made known to those who are the intended audience for the AHA event or activity supported with the funding.   Generally, that is one of the primary purposes of the financial support and can readily be accomplished by recognition of the Funder’s role in supporting the activity or event.   How that is done may vary depending on the nature of the event or activity.   Except in the case of endorsement or advertisement, recognition may not include or appear to be promotion of a Funder’s products or services.  The funding relationship should also be transparent when a Funder is provided an opportunity to participate in presentations to, or focus groups with, members as a benefit of the financial support.

Advertisement
In order for material presented by the AHA in exchange for a fee to be treated as an advertisement and exempt from the general requirements of this policy, the context should make clear that the AHA has sold space to the Funder for the Funder to publicize or promote its products or services.  Where the context does not adequately alert a reader that remuneration was received by the AHA for display of the material, the words “Paid Advertisement” should be prominently displayed.  Material styled as editorial or substantive content that is supplied by a Funder and describes products or services of a type offered by the Funder, even if the text does so generically and without using the Funder’s formal product or service name, should be treated as advertising and the “Paid Advertisement” designation used.  A Funder purchasing advertising is not permitted to refer to the AHA or use the AHA’s name or logo in the text (this would amount to an endorsement and be subject to the requirements of this policy generally).  Any proposed arrangement involving a non-profit AHA entity and promotion of a Funder’s products or services should be referred in advance to Finance for a determination as to possible tax effects.

Endorsement
For endorsements, the AHA authorizes its name and/or logo to be associated with a product or service.  Endorsements are subject generally to the requirements of this policy.  In the case of an endorsement, the AHA exercises control over how its name and/or logo are presented.  In addition, the AHA conditions continued use of its name and logo on a continued high level of quality of the product or service endorsed.   Promotion and marketing of the product is generally performed by the Funder.   

Due Diligence
Every potential funding source must be reviewed to assess whether there is a shared interest in the AHA’s mission and objectives; every financial proposal must be reviewed to determine if it will advance the goals or objectives of the AHA.    A review would include the nature of the Funder’s business and products, its reputation, and its financial soundness, both as a general matter and in connection with the specific event or activity being funded.   For endorsements, there must be heightened scrutiny of the specific product or service, as well as its utility for members.   Every review should also include a determination of the value of the opportunity for the Funder.   This should focus on the value of the exposure and visibility, not the cost of the program or associated item or activity.  The level of financial support to be received by the AHA should be commensurate with the value received by the Funder.

Formalized Relationship
The funding relationship must be reduced to a written agreement.  The agreement should identify the type of support (e.g., sponsorship, grants, donations, endorsements), the event or activity being funded; amount of funding and payment schedule; conditions and limitations on use of the AHA’s name and logo, or any reference to the funding.   

*AHA reserves the right to change or modify policies at any time.

For further information, please contact the AHA's Office of the General Counsel.

 

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