Our Approach to Giving

The Rice Lake Community Health Foundation promotes the physical, behavioral and social health of people in the greater Rice Lake area by supporting and partnering with health and wellness organizations.  We believe that by helping organizations improve the health of individuals, families and community systems, we can enhance the quality of life for the community as a whole.

Our work begins with our core belief that all people deserve the chance to have healthy, productive lives.  We have developed a process that helps us decide how to spend our time, effort and money so we can accomplish that goal for as many people as possible.  This process helps us choose the issues we will work on and the groups to which we will award grants.  This page explains that process.

We have borrowed much from other organizations that have been making grants for much longer period of time than we have.  We also recognize that we won’t always follow this process to the letter with every grant; in some cases it represents our aspirations as much as reality.  Finally, this process is evolving as we get better at choosing strategies, making grants, and evaluating the results.

We feel that every grant should have some basic elements.  As you are developing a new or different way to attack some of the basic health care issues of our community, you need to keep these basic elements of any project in mind.  These elements include five basic steps:

    1. Assessment
    2. Capacity Building
    3. Strategic Planning
    4. Implementation
    5. Evaluation

1.   Assessment

Assessment consists of the collection of data to define problems within a geographic area.  It also involves mobilizing key stakeholders to collect the needed data as well as identification of service gaps and existing infrastructure which prevent success.

Long before we make a single grant for any given issue, we listen and learn about the problem.  Whether the challenge is prenatal care or end of life care, we begin by immersing ourselves in information about the problem that causes great harm and/or gets too little attention.

We seek knowledge of the issues and different views from people beyond the Board.  As we consider the best approach, we look for ways to complement other efforts and engage with partners.  As we learn about an issue, we ask whether we can make a difference with our money and our ability to bring partners together.

2.   Capacity Building

Building capacity involves the mobilization of resources within a community.  A key aspect of capacity building is convening key stakeholders, coalitions and service providers to plan and implement sustainable prevention efforts.  The mobilization of resources includes both financial and organizational resources as well as the creation of partnerships.  Readiness and leadership capacity are addressed and strengthened through education and systems thinking.  Additionally, capacity building should include a focus on sustainability as well as evaluation capacity.

The Rice Lake Community Health Foundation will consider the cost of your project, the risk associated with it, its long-term viability, and most important, its potential impact on peoples’ lives.  Based on this survey of possible approaches, and after extensive discussion, the Board will consider the strategy and budget, the results they hope to achieve, and a plan to measure those results over the short and long term as outlined in your proposal.

3.   Strategic Planning

Planning involves the development of a strategic plan that includes policies, programs and practices that create a logical data-driven plan to address the factors identified in a specific community that are contributing to the selected priority.  The planning process produces strategic goals, objectives and performance targets as well as logic models and preliminary action plans.  In addition to the strategic goals, objectives and performance targets, step three also involves the identification and selection of evidence-based strategies that include changes in policies, programs and practices which will positively impact the selected priority.

Our grant funds will go to organizations who are experts in their field and have first-hand knowledge of the mission of their grant proposal, rather than management organizations who use the funds to support other groups.

4.   Implementation

Implementation involves taking action guided by the strategic plan created in step three.  If action planning or the selection of specific policies, programs and practices was not completed in full during the planning process in step three, it should occur in step four.  Step four also includes the creation of an evaluation plan, the collection of process measurement data, and the ongoing monitoring of implementation commitment.

5.   Evaluation

Evaluation involves measuring the impact your implemented programs, policies and practices.  An important part of the ongoing process is identifying areas for improvement and course correction.  Step five also emphasizes sustainability since it involves measuring the impact of the implemented policies, programs and practices.  Evaluation also includes reviewing the effectiveness, efficiency and commitment of implementation in relation to the strategic plan, action plans and desired outcomes measures.

We are willing to take risks to address the health issues that are important to us, and we recognize that the steps we take – or that our grantees take – may not always be the right ones.  That’s why, once we’ve made a grant, we expect the grantee to measure the results.  We require our grantees to carefully track and report on their work in the field.  We believe constructive feedback improves the quality of work.

Evaluating our work, as well as the work of our grantees’, is important, and we look for ways to do it more effectively.  We believe these urgent problems belong to all of us collectively.  We want to find out what works and why, and then share what we’re learning.  The more we can help each other, the better the chance we have of finding solutions and getting them to the people who need them the most.

Of course, measuring progress and getting feedback is only useful if you’re willing to act on the results.  Once we’ve gathered feedback, our Board members decide whether to continue with the existing strategy or to make adjustments.