Key Points

Cross-sector partnerships are essential for addressing such complex social issues as improving population health. Among such partnerships, a philanthropy-private sector partnership is rare in practice; they may seem incompatible due to differences in their missions and cultures. However, these collaborations can yield positive returns for philanthropy organizations and businesses, as well as the broader community.

This article draws upon an evaluation of a partnership between the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Humana Inc. to highlight key insights for forming and implementing a formal partnership between a philanthropy organization and an investor-owned business.

Establishing and maintaining a philanthropy-private sector partnership is highly complex and challenging. For philanthropy staff interested in establishing a private-sector partnership, the findings suggest four key considerations: due diligence in exploring partnership fit, active engagement with philanthropy staff and in addressing key partnership issues, a process of co-creation on partnership activities, and continuous monitoring and assessment.

Within these key considerations, this evaluation highlights unique organizational attributes that have important practical considerations for philanthropy-private sector partnerships. However, these considerations also have relevance for other types of cross-sector partnerships.

Open Access