Few things are as fundamental to a sense of well-being as good health. Health affects everything people do: their ability to work and learn; their ability to form successful connections with other people; and their ability to participate in and contribute to community life. It’s not surprising that health is consistently one of the highest priorities of both individual donors and organized philanthropy.
Many health funders, whether individuals, families, or organized foundations, want to be catalysts of change. They want to make a difference in health care settings or in communities, and to feel that their investments will have a lasting impact. But the complexity of health problems can be bewildering, and people may wonder whether the tools they’re using are the right ones to meet their goals. Questions like these are Grantmakers In Health’s (GIH) raison d’etre. Through large and small meetings, webinars, publications, and one-on-one conversations, we help funders make their way through the maze of issues and possible solutions.
Learn and Connect
Our role at GIH is to help donors maximize the social return on their giving while working to improve the health of all people. We connect health funders, promote peer learning, and help the whole sector evolve. We work with hundreds of foundations and corporate giving programs, large and small, both local and national.
We’re strong supporters of peer-to-peer learning. Our annual conference is the largest gathering of health funders in the country and structured to encourage conversation and the exchange of ideas. We also convene smaller meetings that give funders an opportunity to share stories and experiences. Similarly, our webinars and publications focus on the funder experience and lessons that can be shared with the field.
We know that both successful and “failed” projects can be a source of learning. Achieving the goal of giving with impact is both an art and a science, and funders can help each other get closer to their objectives by sharing what worked, what didn’t, and what’s next.
Sometimes GIH staff members are sources of this advice, but often we connect funders with peers whose geographic setting, assets, or challenges are similar to their own. Serving in this way as the connective tissue for hundreds of otherwise separate funders is one of our most important contributions to the philanthropic sector.
What Health Funders Are Supporting
Health philanthropy is ever-changing, but funders are committed to many long-standing priorities. At the same time, emerging issues and approaches are receiving attention. Here’s a brief look at the latest developments and areas where you can make a difference.
- Access and coverage
- Behavioral health
- Children and families
- Equity and social determinants of health
- Healthy eating/active living
- Oral health
- Population health
We believe that better health can be achieved through better philanthropy, and we work to develop meaningful, productive programming that: 1) helps funders stay on top of current health policy and philanthropic practice; 2) helps funders communicate, coordinate, and collaborate with one another and with those in other sectors; and 3) helps foundations and corporate giving programs strengthen the skills of their executives, staff, and trustees.
Individuals can take part in our programming by attending our meetings, logging into our webinars, and publishing in our bulletin, which reaches several thousands monthly.
Original contribution by Faith Mitchell, Former President and CEO of Grantmakers in Health.
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