Building a medical fund that matters.

When the Misfit Foundation decided to launch a medical fund in Kenya we stood face to face with the reality that a medical fund can easily become a black hole project.  The seemingly endless need can eat up staff time, resources, and donations while the hard-to-quantify nature of field-based medical projects return virtually no interesting data or return-on-investment to the organization and donor.IMG_1353

This makes a lousy value proposition for donors wanting to see their money going to a worthy cause, so many NGO’s simply can’t mess with it.

But the Misfit Foundation is built on shifting the ROI of philanthropy from simple numerical efficiency to depth of connection, so we went to work building a medical fund that truly matters.

The Misfit Foundation operates within the context of relationship, so naturally we built the Misfit Medical Fund by partnering with our trusted friends at Global Hope Network Kenya.  They have been making a serious dent in poverty in central Kenya over the last several years with their “TCD” program.   Basically, they partner with a village for 3-6 years to help them learn and develop their own systems to beat poverty in the five key areas of development; water, food, income, wellness, and education.

This team is laser focused on the concept of local ownership in all their work with villages, which essentially means no free handouts.  This has led to remarkable results in villages, but naturally, has left some gaps in services that tend to be a slippery slope down the entitlement/dependency hill.

Development programs focus on wellness through teaching healthy living practices and preventative measures, which are far more beneficial than just treating symptoms for a village in its development journey.  But there are many individualized cases where people need medicine to simply get back on track or in some cases, survive the day.

This is where the Misfit Medical Fund enters the scene.  The MMF makes it possible for Global Hope Kenya to address critical medical needs in villages that are part of its program.

Since there are endless medical needs in Africa we set clear parameters for what we are trying to accomplish.  In February, I spent two weeks working directly with the team on the ground in Kenya to design a medical fund that effectively delivers critical medicine to those who need it most while staying true to the values that the team works so hard to instill in villages.  Here’s what the team came up with…

Candidates for the Misfit Medical Fund must:

1) Be part of a TCD community
2) Be in or near a destitute state
3) Have a poor family background
4) Have a emergency condition

These points might seem obvious or even excessive, but it’s critical to define them clearly because even while being this specific there is more need than resources.

The first point is the foundation of the medical fund because it strengthens the connection between people.  By focusing on helping within the program not only is the individual helped, but the community is strengthened at the same time.

Not only does this make the fund more effective on the ground, but it allows success to be measured and communicated with stories and relationships rather than number of units served.

And it’s from this place that the world actually begins to change because the heart and inspiration invested by a donor is not lost into an endless mist of statistics, but used to save a specific life, transform a village of friends, and returned again to where it started so it can continue the cycle of growth.

This is why we fly around the world to spend time with people, to craft a plan that not only gets people the medicine they desperately need, but does it in a way that strengthens our partner’s programs and ultimately empowers these villages and builds dignity.

At the Misfit Medical Fund success has very little to do with medicine, and everything to do with people being connected and free to be themselves.

More about the medical fund soon!

– Jonathan

6 peaks, 6 countries, 72 hours

The Joy of Failure