Key Points

Philanthropy, and the research and analysis it supports, has an important role to play in informing policy and making government more effective. Yet all too often, foundations and other research funders struggle to understand whether and how their investments have affected policy.

This article highlights the findings of an 18-month pilot project conducted by AcademyHealth to help the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation better understand the impact of a subset of the foundation’s research grants, across investment types, on health insurance coverage and health reform, and to help inform how the foundation may more systematically track and measure the impact of the research it funds.

This pilot was unique in that it sought to formulate practical recommendations for how foundation staff might collect, organize, and interpret key measures of policy impact on an ongoing basis, particularly when working with limited time and resources. This article focuses on insights that may be of interest to other foundations seeking to measure the policy impact of their research investments.

Open Access Sponsor

Support for this open access article is provided by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Open Access