Building Partnerships for Healthy Communities: Medtronic and The Community Foundation for Ireland

Medtronic, a global leader in medical technology, launched the Medtronic Healthy Communities Fund in Ireland in June 2015. The company, and the Medtronic Foundation, made a €1 million commitment over three years to fund health-focused charities in Irish communities, in partnership with The Community Foundation for Ireland and the Ireland Funds.

In its first year of funding, The Medtronic Healthy Communities Fund sought innovative ideas and projects to improve health at a community level, especially for people who have been traditionally at risk for chronic diseases such as heart disease or diabetes, or are challenged in accessing existing healthcare services. A key focus in their first year is to support projects with a national reach that have the potential to be replicated in communities across the country.   

The Community Foundation for Ireland (CFI), an Ireland-based organization that NGOsource has certified as equivalent to a U.S. public charity, managed the grantmaking. From the establishment of the Fund in early April 2015 to awarding grants in November 2015, CFI was involved every step of the way.  

Building Healthy Communities

In November 2015, the first round of grants totalling €180,000 was disbursed to 6 Irish organizations. The 6 selected organizations submitted innovative projects that are strongly aligned with the Medtronic Healthy Community Funds objectives and the Healthy Ireland framework recently established by the national government. Two of those six projects include:

Getting Ireland Growing, Grow It Yourself (GIY) Ireland

GIY provides a substantial and practical support program which empowers organizations and communities to harness the power of food growing experiences. People who grow their own food demonstrate higher levels of knowledge about nutrition and are more likely to continue healthy eating habits throughout their lives. GIY aims to deliver a structured one year program, Getting Ireland Growing, working with community growers throughout 10 counties in Ireland, reaching 2500 people.

Your Health Your Choice, The Marie Keating Foundation

42% of cancer cases are preventable through lifestyle choices. The Marie Keating Foundation’s digital and community outreach campaign, Your Health Your Choice, aims to educate people and change behaviors around four key cancer risk reduction measures: decreasing smoking and alcohol consumption, and encouraging balanced diets and exercise. This campaign is targeting disadvantaged communities, specifically reaching ethnic minority groups, older people, and people with disabilities. In the first week, 23,000 people watched the campaign videos and the traffic to the website is up by 63%.

NGOsource’s role

In 2015, The Community Foundation for Ireland received its first equivalency determination from NGOsource on behalf of a family donor who wished to make grants in the Southwest of Ireland. Shortly after, when The Community Foundation for Ireland was approached by Medtronic and Medtronic Foundation staff to set up a fund in Ireland, the equivalency determination was processed by NGOsource at an accelerated rate given the recent approval for the family donor. The efficiency of this process was a key factor in the Medtronic Healthy Communities Fund being launched within 10 weeks of the initial discussions with The Community Foundation for Ireland.

CFI believes that NGOsource provides a transparent and effective way to work with potential donors from the US who would like to make grants in Ireland. The Community Foundation for Ireland has a proven track record in empowering donors who want to make a real difference in Irish communities by tackling social issues effectively and within the highest standards of governance.

The next steps for the Medtronic Healthy Communities Fund

In February 2016, the 6 beneficiaries came together to review progress to date, but more importantly, to share and learn from each other. They will meet again in June to discuss their impact and the upcoming second year of the Health Communities Fund.

Currently, CFI is working with Medtronic Foundation and the Medtronic team in Ireland on the vision and structure for Year 2. It is anticipated that they will focus on rolling out the models developed in Year 1 to local charitable and voluntary organizations in communities throughout Ireland, deepening the impact their partnership has had on the country’s health outcomes so far.

For further information about donating in Ireland, please contact Jackie Harrison, Head of Development, The Community Foundation for Ireland on 00 353 8747354 or email jharrison@foundation.ie 

Website www.foundation.ie

All photos © GIY and The Marie Keating Foundation via The Community Foundation for Ireland.

This article was written by The Community Foundation for Ireland and Natasha Blackadar, an AmeriCorps New Sector Alliance RISE Fellow on the NGOsource team.