Giving Compass' Take:

• Allen Smart provides important considerations for rural health funders to consider in order to make an impact on health care. 

• What unique challenges and assets do the communities you engage with present?  

• Learn about the impact of small rural foundations

Things to consider about being a better rural health funder: 

  • It is absolutely necessary to work with people who may have widely divergent political and social views from your own.
  • Leadership can often come in unexpected styles and is best identified by members of the community themselves.
  • Financial resources may look very different than they do in an urban community. (For example, the owner of the local metal recycling yard might be the wealthiest and most quietly philanthropic person in town.)
  • Don’t get caught up in whether a particular place is definitionally rural. If the local people think of themselves as rural, treat them as such.
  • Rural culture in the United States comes in many varieties. Don’t assume that you can easily adapt work from the rural Midwest to the rural Deep South, for example, and get the same results.
  • Keep reminding yourself that the rural United States is not a homogeneous group of white people of European ancestry. There are people of all colors and backgrounds in rural America—some who had a presence well before there was a United States and some who are newly arrived.
  • Your logic models, evaluative frames, and impact theories may not be meaningful to people in rural areas. Do your best to remember that what you think is important may have little value to local people trying to solve a real, long-term problem.
  • Be cautious about making assumptions about the role and influence of the church community.
  • Understand that just because there is no entity fitting your definition of a strong nonprofit doesn’t mean there is “no one to fund.”
  • You don’t have to learn all of this by yourself.

Read the full article by Allen Smart about rural health from Health Affairs.