The number one thing philanthropic supporters want to see what impact their donation is making. Impact is what helps spur people to act, and it can also encourage them to continue supporting a cause. Sometimes, a donation to a nonprofit helps keep the lights on and the employees paid so they can continue doing their important work. However, for collective giving groups like Innovation Circle at Phoenix Children’s Foundation, impact means funding innovations in pediatric medicine that will save children’s lives, or even making a family’s experience at the hospital more bearable, which can feel just as life-saving.

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In my role as director of philanthropy at Phoenix Children’s Foundation, I have the daily privilege of witnessing the incredible change that communal generosity creates. There is no limit to the different ways a person can provide philanthropic support within their community and create a life-changing impact. One way to provide support at Phoenix Children’s Foundation is through collective giving, where there are numerous collective giving groups for various philanthropic interests across all levels of engagement.

A giving group, also known as a giving circle or philanthropy circle, is a collective of individuals or organizations who combine their resources to support charitable causes and create a greater impact than they could have as an individual. Giving groups typically focus on specific causes or issues, allowing members to support the causes that are most meaningful to them.

Participating in a giving group can be a powerful way to invest in meaningful change, particularly in the healthcare sector. These groups play a vital role in driving innovation and transformation, laying the foundation for lasting impact and groundbreaking change.

Accelerating Advancements in Pediatric Medicine

The Innovation Circle at Phoenix Children’s is a north-star of how collective funding can accelerate advancements in pediatric medicine, truly moving the needle in pediatric care. Members of Innovation Circle jointly invest in a grant fund supporting innovative and high-impact projects, enabling Phoenix Children’s best and brightest minds to turn their visionary ideas into reality. Once physicians, researchers, and clinical leaders across Phoenix Children’s apply for funds from Innovation Circle, their projects undergo rigorous vetting by Phoenix Children’s leadership before an eventual presentation to members of Innovation Circle for a final vote on which projects to fund.

A Legacy of Impact

Since 2004, Innovation Circle has awarded more than $6 million in grant funding to over 90 projects, benefiting nearly every patient and family at Phoenix Children’s in some way. These projects have expanded medical knowledge, addressed unmet needs, advanced personalized medicine and fostered multidisciplinary collaboration, profoundly impacting children and families in Arizona and beyond.

Tangible Impacts

One of the most rewarding aspects of my work is being able to see the tangible results that come from Innovation Circle’s support. Companies like Patient Signs, a local business that received funding from Innovation Circle, demonstrate how collaborative solutions can improve patient care. By implementing digital signage systems, Patient Signs has enhanced the efficiency of displaying patient information, ensuring accuracy and improving the overall patient experience – all of which leads to improved patient outcomes.

Another example is WATCHER, an early-warning system that alerts a patient’s care team when a patient’s condition is at risk of deteriorating. This technology began with funding from Innovation Circle and is now saving the lives of critically ill children at Phoenix Children’s.

Why it Matters to Me

I started my journey in the nonprofit sector as a volunteer and mentor for local youth programs, which eventually led to my pursuit of a Master’s of Nonprofit Studies at Arizona State University. During my time at ASU, I focused primarily on the problem of donor attrition, developing real-world solutions to an obstacle affecting nonprofits across the sector. However, it was my interest in social entrepreneurship that introduced me to the importance of innovation in the public sector, particularly in pediatric healthcare.

As a nonprofit professional committed to helping families and kids throughout the Valley, my work with Innovation Circle has been a true high point by allowing me to bridge the gap between innovative medical research and the generous support of our community. Together, we are making a difference in the lives of children and families, in Arizona and beyond.

Author: Josh Mundy is director of philanthropy at Phoenix Children’s Foundation.