Going it alone is not an option in fostering healthy communities, and it is certainly not an option in fostering a Healthy Arizona. Yet the structure of much of the nonprofit sector, including philanthropy, encourages fragmentation into a series of functional one-trick ponies: we do health, you do housing, another helps victims of domestic violence, another focuses on medical research, and so on in a tapestry of interests and (often restricted) purposes, often with little coordination and leveraging of resources between them.
In light of the urgency of the state’s budget crisis, SLHI has had vigorous discussion at the Board level on what constitutes our own mission of improving ‘health,’ and whether we should be joining others in working on tax policy, economic development and other issues that, taken together, profoundly impact health in our communities and state. Or should we stick to our core competencies and purpose – health care and healthy living – and say to emerging coalitions, “We’d love to help, but we don’t play in that arena.”
Our state is at a critical juncture. The nonprofit community – and the philanthropic community in particular – cannot afford to stay in silos on the sidelines and think someone else is going to do the heavy lifting.
Life is easy in the comfort zone. But it’s only in the discomfort zone that positive social change is possible. If you’re not living there now, you soon will be.