Doing things a little differently for collective impact

Like many companies, we’ve wrestled with how to go beyond “the check” when it comes to our philanthropy. We want to bring our best to our partnerships and that means figuring out how we might also bring our passion for scientific discovery, our spirit of innovation, and our commitment to transparency to the table.

Last year, we launched a new national program called the GSK IMPACT Grant Program. There are a lot of special elements to this program.

First, we aren’t just funding one nonprofit, but a group of organizations working together in different cities—because it takes all of us. (Hat tip to FSG for framing “Collective Impact,” which has helped inform our approach.)

And we aren’t just funding programs that tell kids how to live a healthier life, but programs that develop kids’ leadership skills so they can tell us what community changes make sense. (Hat tip to YSA for reminding us that without a youth strategy we have no strategy at all.)

We’re funding programs programs we are confident will make a difference, because these programs and the collective work is scientifically-supported. Each collective has an evaluation partner to help ensure progress, results, and continuous improvement—and we will have a national evaluation partner to identify themes across the collectives, allow a full 360 degree-view of us and our role in this partnership, operate transparently, and share our findings widely.

When we designed the GSK IMPACT Grant program, I think it’s fair to say that community leaders across the country dared us to be different—to do something bold and unconventional, and to bring more to the table when it comes to building healthier communities. I’m pleased to share that while it is still early in the GSK IMPACT Grant Program life cycle, preliminary results are very promising. You can learn more about this new grant program through a special feature in the new Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy (CECP) report released today, called Giving In Numbers: 2014 Edition “Trends in Corporate Community Engagement” (page 36).

Learn more about our commitment to healthy communities here, and let us know if there are other things we can be doing through our community partnerships to build healthier communities.