Each year about this time, the Health Forward Foundation develops a policy agenda to help guide our advocacy work in the coming year. I know that many of our grantees and nonprofit partners do the same, and let me assure you that crafting these agendas is tricky! Every decision about where to invest capital, be it human or financial, comes with tradeoffs.
Developing such agendas is much more an art than a science, but always made better by incorporating multiple voices, listening with new ears, and learning from lessons of the past. Each year before we draft our policy agenda, we take stock of the lessons we have learned in the previous year.
Here are a few I’d like to share…
Health Forward is positioned differently than others in the health advocacy arena.
As a self-funded entity that was built to last into perpetuity, Health Forward doesn’t fundraise for our operating dollars. We can be reasonably sure that Health Forward will exist in 10, 30 or even 50 years. This impacts our thinking about policy in two important ways:
- We are entirely free to pursue policy goals based on their merits alone, without concern for donor alienation or advocating policy changes that will support our operations;
- Knowing that we will persist long into the future allows Health Forward to take a long-term view on policy issues. Understanding that some opportunities may take five or 10 years to play out is acceptable — we plan to be around for the whole time!
We can accomplish so much when we engage directly, particularly at the local level.
This has been a major learning of the past year. It seems that the controversies and dialogues in Jefferson City and Topeka may leave out the voices of those right here in our communities. At the local level, Health Forward has found a breadth of support for various health policies and a willingness to listen that is a very welcome change.
Inclusivity is an important value to Health Forward.
I recently saw a quote that read, “If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together.” Inclusivity is a hallmark of deep and sustainable change. We know that democracy takes conversation, and we have the obligation to understand the views needed to shape thoughtful and lasting policy. Health Forward is one small part of a large system of change agents, and we are happy to offer meaningful and open collaboration with our grantees and stakeholders.
Please take a moment to read our full policy agenda.