Getting funding to kick off a healthcare program can be one of the biggest challenges. Another common challenge is finding a way to secure long-term funding resources to make the program sustainable. And sometimes, allocating the resources obtained is a challenge in itself.
The irony is that healthcare initiatives aim to reduce overall healthcare spending. And they do so while improving outcomes. But the reality is securing funding resources is hard. The competition for grants, staffing cuts, and declining spending make it tough for programs to work.
Finding funding isn’t always straightforward, so it can pay to think crooked. Think creatively about funding, because it really is out there. Here are some of the best tips that program leaders from states around the US shared and brainstormed.
Funding Resources for Healthcare Projects
- Types of Funding Categories
- General Funding Sources
- COVID-19 Grants and Funding
- Private Donors
- Unexpected Departments and Sectors
- Strategy Ideas
Types of Funding Categories
Before starting on a grant-seeking expedition, it pays to understand the terminology around different kinds of funding. Spend some time with a glossary. This could help you structure projects that fit in areas you might not have considered. For example:
- seed funding
- place-based funding
- supporting the non-profit sector
General Funding Sources
AHRQ publishes regular grant announcements via email. These grants focus on “supporting research to improve the quality, effectiveness, accessibility, and cost-effectiveness of health care.”
RHIhub is a font of helpful information. This guide is an A to Z on getting funding. It’s targeted at rural health projects, but applicable widely. It has resources, helpful organizations, opportunities, and models.
Candid, a merger of the Foundation Center and GuideStar, publishes helpful newsletters focused on fundraising, boards, best practices, and more. The Candid Newsletters, including the Funding Watches, are monthly newsletters summarizing news in subject-based philanthropy, links to resources, funding opportunities for individuals and organizations, and job listings. There are also a selection of regional newsletters and the useful RFP Bulletin.
The Council on Foundations is a philanthropic network and nonprofit leadership association of grantmaking foundations and corporations. You can scan through members to find out who is giving grants on the Council on Foundations website. The membership directory is for members only. But the website is still full of references and keywords that can help in your search.
Grantmakers in Health is a networking group for funders that reveals trends and directions in grantmaking. The site provides announcements of grant funding, such as “The Well Being Trust, a national foundation dedicated to advancing the mental, social, and spiritual health of the nation, recently announced new grant funding for twenty-six initiatives as part of their California Mental Health and Wellness Initiative.”
NIH offers funding resources for many types of grants, contracts, and even programs that help repay loans for researchers. Learn about these programs, as well as about NIH’s budget process, grant funding strategies, and policies, and more. Many AHRQ opportunities appear under NIH.
NNLM offers funding resources for projects that improve access to health information, increase engagement with research and data, and expand professional knowledge. They also support outreach projects aimed to promote awareness and the use of NLM resources in local communities. It includes many funding opportunities you might not think of, such as grants for holding training in libraries.
The National Network of Libraries of Medicine (NNLM) is a collaboration of members with the shared goal of advancing medicine and improving public health by giving health professionals access to biomedical information and improving individuals’ access to information to enable them to make informed decisions about their health. It’s comprised of academic health sciences libraries, hospital, pharmaceutical, and other special biomedical libraries, public libraries, information centers, and community-based organizations.
COVID-19 Grants and Funding
The coronavirus is creating some funding opportunities meant to offset the disruption caused by the virus. According to an article by Moss Adams, “Large sums have been designated for health care industry purposes. The federal agencies will award the funds directly to health care providers as well as to states or state agencies, which will then pass the funds to hospitals and provider recipients.”
Some funding opportunities include FEMA public assistance awards, Community Health Center (FQHC) Grants, telehealth grants, and a helpful grant Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grants from the Department of Agriculture Utilities Programs useful for any organization trying out online training for the first time.
The Health and Human Services page contains general information on grants related to COVID-19. Look specifically at the section labeled “Coronavirus Grants Information from across HHS” for direct links to several other agencies.
Many agencies make a habit of looking at the general funding sources listed above. But they ignore many private sources of funding that are less well-publicized. Some examples are:
- One Susan G Komen affiliate received a bequeathal that set up a patient navigation training program.
- Banks have community funds programs they must spend. Some got fined for not spending their funds, so they may be eager to find an outlet for their money. Check out US Bank Community Possible Grant Program, Deutsche Bank Small Grants Fund, People’s United Community Foundation.
- Health plans, such as BlueCross BlueSheild’s Mobilize AZ, which gives funding for substance use disorder, mental health, and diabetes.
- Crowdfunding may be a way to find out what a community wants and raise funds from individuals. This could be a way to set up scholarships. States, look to partners for managing these. Examples are GoFundMe, Kickstarter, ChipIn, or these alternatives.
Unexpected Departments and Sectors
Think outside of public health for funding other than or connected to health, like science, transportation, or other areas dedicated to social determinants of health. Note to examine your buzzwords, neutralize them, and learn the buzzwords in other sectors.
- Department of Transportation and Highway Safety, which wants to use community health workers to promote the use of car seats.
- Reproductive Health provides funding to boost maternal health programs.
- Partnering with doula organizations for post-partum maternal health?
- Departments of Housing, e.g., Healthy Homes, Housing Trust Fund
- CitizenScience, which works largely in technology and environments but also in population health (Smoke Sense is a project that aims to understand the extent to which exposure to wildland fire smoke affects health and productivity, as well as inform health risk communication strategies that protect public health during smoke days. SONYC is a smart cities initiative focused on developing a cyber-physical system (CPS) for the monitoring, analysis, and mitigation of urban noise pollution. GoViral is a free and real-time online Cold & Flu surveillance system administered by researchers at New York University. Participants will get a Do-It-Yourself flu saliva collection system that they can keep and use at home if they are feeling sick.)
- Keep looking for federal, but also state and community funding sources.
Partners can help share the load and also open up possibilities for new grants. Some examples:
- Indian Health grant for diabetes
- Good Health and Wellness (Indian) – careful of duplicating efforts
- EMS (guiding CHWs to getting certified in CPR and First Aid)
- Gaming Commissions often need to spend their money on communities
Strategy Idea: Mixing Funding Streams
Lastly, think about strategy when looking for funding resources. Remember that funding seeds funding. Funders look at successful programs that have already received money as potential sources for additional funding. They want their investment to succeed.
Sometimes you can increase funding if you tell one funder that you’ve received funding from another. They can provide a matching grant for the same cause.
Disclaimer: This article is a basic resource and is not comprehensive. We’ll continue to update it to add more information as funding opportunities become available or change.