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Case Study

How IU Health Foundation strengthens the system’s community impact grants

15 Minute Read


The challenge

The Indiana University (IU) Health Foundation manages grantmaking activities associated with IU Health’s Community Impact Investment Fund (“community impact fund”), a $100 million commitment to address the social determinants of health. To best serve organizational goals, the foundation needed to design a funding process that sourced strategically aligned projects and pooled additional financial commitments from other entities—program partners and donors.

The organization

IU Health is the largest health care system in Indiana, encompassing 16 hospitals and 2,700 beds. In 2019, the IU Health Foundation employed 41 FTEs and raised nearly $13 million.

The approach

IU Heath Foundation created a grant application and review process designed to fund initiatives in which community partners help advance IU Health’s goals. The grantmaking infrastructure also encourages community partners and other funders to commit additional financial resources to the proposed initiatives.

The result

In 2019, IU Health Foundation granted over $4.2 million via the community impact fund to four partner organizations. The IU Health Foundation leveraged grant funds for one of these four projects to raise an additional $1+ million from funding partners, supporting the cost of the entire project over three years. The other three projects secured additional philanthropic support independently, which factored into the grantmaking decisions, as they demonstrated to reviewers that the programs are sustainable.



Leveraging a community impact fund to encourage partner investment in community health programs

A $100 million system-funded Community Impact Investment Fund is administered by the IU Health Foundation. The fund invests in community health programs in line with the system’s overall goal to turn Indiana into one of the healthiest states within 10 years. This publication details the foundation’s approach to sourcing projects and partners that extend the value of IU Health’s own financial contribution.


The four elements

How the IU Health Foundation leveraged sourcing projects and partners with four key elements:

  • Element

    Position the foundation as the quarterback of community impact grantmaking activities

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  • Element

    Require all proposals to include an employee nomination of a community organization partner

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  • Element

    Encourage pooled funding from partners and other donors

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  • Element

    Launch an interdepartmental committee to review incoming funding requests

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IU Health’s goal to improve the collective health of its community is progressing.

The IU Health Foundation implemented a funding process that sources strategically aligned community health projects and encourages pooled funding by external partners. Its process has contributed to a growing portfolio of impactful investments.

A snapshot of 2019:


Community impact investment funds granted by IU
Health Foundation


Community organization partners receiving funds


Pooled funds committed by external community
partners and donors

Pandemic response

In response to impacts from the coronavirus pandemic, IU Health and IU Health Foundation pivoted from the traditional grant application process for the 2020 grant award year, immediately investing $500,000 to community organizations responding to urgent community needs. The foundation will distribute the remaining $3-4 million in early 2021 as communities continue to meet the health and economic challenges resulting from the pandemic.

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