We’re excited to share our 2018 annual report, recapping and celebrating the Health Fund’s fifth year! Read the introductory letter from our chairperson, Tim Damschroder, below, and click here to view and download the full report [PDF]!
Letter from the Chair
In 2013, the Health Fund existed only on paper—more of a promise than an actual organization. Five years later, we’re among the top funders in Michigan. With a committed board of directors, a hardworking staff, and $35 million in annual grantmaking across the state, we’re driving every day toward a healthier Michigan.
So what does five years of the Health Fund add up to? For starters, more than a hundred million dollars for Michigan health nonprofits:
Total funding to date: $128,467,894
- Nutrition & Healthy Lifestyles: $11,357,262
- Behavioral Health: $17,598,930
- Healthy Aging: $18,250,559
- Community Health Impact: $10,031,463
- Special Projects & Emerging Ideas: $20,592,458
Of course, the numbers never tell the whole story. As our funding has grown, so too have our efforts to support nonprofits and spur positive change across Michigan. We’ve convened grantees to share with and learn from one another; we’ve traveled around the state to hear from communities about their needs; we’ve told stories about our partners’ incredible work.Five years in, we decided it was time to take stock of what we’ve accomplished and, more importantly, how we can improve. To understand our impact, we must reflect on two related, but distinct questions: are we making effective grants, and are we an effective grantmaker?
The first question is about understanding the individual and cumulative impact of our investments: is the work we’re supporting having the intended effect? Is it improving the health of Michigan residents? Is it leading to long-term change? What are we, and our partners, learning that can help guide future work?
These are complex questions, for our grant partners and for us. That’s why we hired our first dedicated evaluation officer in 2018. This position is meant to evaluate the collective impact of our grants, and to help partners develop their organizations’ capacity for evaluation. With a dedicated evaluation staff, we’ll not only have better answers but we’ll be asking smarter questions. Our programs, stories, and impact will be richer and tied to meaningful real-world results.
The second question is more introspective. It requires us to thoughtfully examine our role as funders, examine our assumptions about how we should work, and be open to others’ perspectives on how we can help. To that end, we contracted with the Center for Effective Philanthropy to survey our grant partners, analyze the results, and establish some benchmarks from which we can grow. (Want to skip to the results and see how we’re evolving based on feedback? Skip to page 24 of the report!)
I’m immensely proud of the progress the Health Fund has made in its first five years of existence. It’s hard to build an organization from scratch, but it’s incredible to see it happen in real time. Here’s to many more years of impact, learning, and working toward a healthier Michigan.