This transcript of a 2012 interview with Dr. Atul Guwande applies the concept of “collective impact” to community philanthropy. Dr. Guwande makes the case that local and regional community philanthropies can make a difference in fundamentally changing health care delivery systems. First, Dr. Guwande makes that case for local impact:
All medicine is like all politics: it is local. A few key community leaders shape the way medicine is practiced and the kind of health care their community gets. It’s not just the medical community that determines how medicine is practiced, but also the major local employers who set expectations about acceptable levels of health care costs and quality, and the local and state governments that hold people accountable and measure what is actually going on. It’s the local community that is fundamentally responsible for the success or failure of its own health care system.
Dr. Guwande explains how collective impact is an especially effective strategy for community foundations:
…foundations have the leadership potential and the resources to make this happen. It is a role that community-based foundations — even those with modest resources — can play extremely well. In fact, it is precisely because they are focused on their local communities that they can play this role better than national foundations, and certainly better than government ever could. Most funders haven’t yet recognized it, but improving the quality and lowering the cost of U.S. health care is a uniquely powerful place for community philanthropy.