A community benefit is a form of public trust that results in nonprofit hospitals obtaining tax-exempt status. Community benefits are programs or activities subsidized by nonprofit hospital that provide treatment or promote health, that address the cause and impact of identified health-related needs.  

Since its founding, Massachusetts General Hospital has invested in improving the health of its surrounding communities, with a particular commitment to Chelsea, Charlestown and Revere, where Mass General has operated community health centers that have delivered comprehensive, family-centered care for nearly 50 years.

Since 1995, the Center for Community Health Improvement (CCHI) has partnered with community residents, faith-based organizations, nonprofits, city officials, public schools, police and local businesses to address the communities’ health concerns and health disparities due to race, ethnicity and economic status. CCHI convenes local groups to develop vision and strategies; test, implement and evaluate successful interventions; advocate for needed systems and policies and mobilize funding. Over time, these partnerships have fostered a deep and lasting trust that helps sustain our programs and reach more people while leveraging additional resources to maximize our impact. The effect of all of this work in the community has had a transformative effect on the entire institution. In 2007, a trustee committee on community health was formed, and Mass General expanded its mission to include our commitment to the community.

Listening and responding to communities is paramount. It is not only a principle — it is the foundation upon which we work. To ensure, as a hospital, that we are addressing community need and engaging with residents to create equitable change, we report to both the Federal Government and the Massachusetts Attorney General. Both require hospitals to conduct a community health needs assessment (CHNAs) every three years, as well as develop a community Health implementation plan (CHIP) which details how a hospital is addressing these needs. 

The Affordable Care Act, Internal Revenue Service requires hospitals to:

  • Conduct community health needs assessment and implementation plan every three years
  • File Tax Form 990 with IRS annually
  • Get approval on community health activities, including community health needs assessments and implementation plans by a hospital board committee
Visit the IRS online to learn more >

The Attorney General's Office (AGO) provides guidance on how nonprofit hospitals should develop and report on the benefits and programs they provide to the public. The Attorney General's Community Benefits Guidelines gives expectations on how hospitals should determine the health care needs of their communities, plan programs with their community partners and report those activities to the AGO. Information provided to the AGO on a yearly basis must include:

  • Community Health Needs Assessment and Implementation Strategy documents (CHNA/CHIP) – approved by hospital board and senior management
  • Self-Assessment Form – highlighting community engagement
  • Mission, Process and Key Planning Documents
  • Target populations served
  • Program Information including goals, goal description and measured outcomes
  • Program partner information including description of partners and websites.
  • Total Community Benefit Expenditures
Visit Mass.gov to learn more >