Building Global Health Funding Opportunities

By Amanda Pain

Sustainable funding in global health is often a rallying cry among practitioners. A consistent funding stream can make or break the effectiveness of a global health program, but this funding can be hard to come by. The need for additional funding for global health, especially in regards to achieving Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 3, is great. In fact, researchers estimate an additional $371 million per year is needed to achieve SDG 3 by 2030 in Low and Middle Income Countries (LMICs). Overall funding for global health has plateaued since 2010, and changing political landscapes and priorities can make government funding ephemeral. With the current Trump administration’s proposed cuts to global health funding, organizations need to look for new funding streams.

Historically, the private sector has always played a role in funding global health initiatives. Private sector funding can not only offer more consistent funding for a program, but can also be more flexible in adapting programs to meet community specific needs in LMICs. Corporations also know that giving back to communities, and developing philanthropic endeavors, is good for business. While there are several private sector funders, many corporations are looking for non-profits and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that have missions that align with company culture; and at times competition for these funding sources can be fierce. Therefore, looking beyond existing corporate funders to growing companies with nascent, or undeveloped philanthropy programs, presents global health organizations with a opportunity to secure sustainable funding, and assist in creating a corporate philanthropy program from scratch.

How can organizations find these successful growing companies?

Companies today have been waiting longer to announce an I.P.O. (initial public offering), sometimes waiting for Series F or G rounds of funding before going public. However, once a company receives Series C funding from venture capitalists and investors it is considered to be growing successfully, as well as making a profit. Additionally, after eBay set aside funds for charitable giving in 1998 before going public this became a growing trend in the tech industry. This means global health organizations do not necessarily have to wait until a company goes public before reaching out to partner on potential philanthropy initiatives. One example of a tech company partnering with global health organizations is the Tableau Foundation, which aims to make the world a better place with data. 

Of course organizations want to seek out companies where a potential partnership can be mutually beneficial, therefore identifying growing companies and understanding the business platform will be necessary before pitching ideas for philanthropic endeavors. Crunchbase.com is a platform that analyzes start-ups to help investors identify successful companies. Another resource is Gartner annual vendor ratings that showcase company strengths. Global health organizations can use these resources to identify viable companies as potential sustainable funders.  

While investigating growing companies will require staff time and resources the potential for a sustainable partnership with the private sector is worth the effort. Helping design a company’s philanthropic programs is an opportunity for global health organizations to build funding opportunities that are flexible and consistent, rather than trying to morph organizational mission and goals into the prescribed priorities of current funders. 

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