Key Points

In 2014, the Medical College of Wisconsin’s Advancing a Healthier Wisconsin Endowment made a significant shift in focus to supporting adaptive rather than programmatic solutions to address critical health issues, and adopted a new approach that emphasized engagement with key stakeholders, recognizing the importance of contribution over attribution and requiring a long-term perspective on outcomes.

The endowment identified three new “changemaker” roles for itself, alongside new funding mechanisms and a set of conditions where positive change could be supported to influence health. While changemaking began as a description of the endowment’s strategic direction, today this philanthropic philosophy permeates all that it does.

This article discusses how the endowment experimented with a new model of creating change, ultimately translating new knowledge from national thought leaders and aligning it with its own experiences to create a path that continues to guide the endowment’s work. This article also shares lessons for other funders seeking to identify how to deepen their engagement and drive true systemic change.

Open Access