Grants Information & Guidelines

What is Health Decisions Resources?
Whom Do We Fund?
What We Fund: Types of Projects / Programs We Support
What We Do Not Fund
Where We Fund
Amount
How to Apply
Review Process
Overall Timeline
How Often Can We Apply?
Award Notification
Reporting Requirements
FAQs
Sample Applicant Description

What is Health Decisions Resources?

Health Decisions Resources is a grant making program of Massachusetts Health Decisions, Inc. (MHD), a 501(c)(3) tax exempt charitable organization. For more than 25 years, MHD has conducted educational programs for health care professionals, primarily on ethical issues and clinician-patient communication skills. It has also provided extensive education programs for members of the general public, most often on advance directives and other issues involved in making good health care decisions. Over the years, MHD has worked closely with the Massachusetts Medical Society, Hospital Association, Department of Public Health, and other organizations to develop educational projects and conduct programs throughout Massachusetts and New England.

Health Decisions Resources (HDR) will operate as a mini-philanthropy to provide small grants to other organizations with charitable missions similar to MHD. HDR is made possible by a bequest from Dr. Ivor and Mrs. Margaret Cornman, long-time residents of Woods Hole, Massachusetts and enthusiastic supporters of the work of Massachusetts Health Decisions for more than twenty years.

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Whom Do We Fund?

We restrict our funding to nonprofit organizations with 501(c)(3) or similar tax-exempt
status and educational organizations and institutions.

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What We Fund: Types of Projects & Programs We Support

Since HDR is a program of MHD, rather than a separate organization, it must adhere closely to the mission of MHD itself. Here is MHD’s mission statement:

Massachusetts Health Decisions (MHD) will develop and provide health care educational services, programs and materials for clinicians, other health care professionals, and members of the general public. Such services, programs and materials will concern primarily, but not exclusively, ethical issues, the enhancement and improvement of relationships between providers and consumers of health care, and the process of health care decision making by both providers and consumers of health care.

HDR will consider requests for funding that help support projects or programs that provide health care education to members of the public or health care professionals. These projects or programs will:

  • Explore ethical issues in health care; OR
  • Improve the relationships between providers and consumers of health care; OR
  • Help clarify the process of making health care decisions by providers or consumers of care.

Because of the benefit that comes from working across organizational and disciplinary boundaries, we encourage—but do not require—applicants to explore working with other groups to develop their project or program.

We are especially interested in projects and programs that involve people who may not otherwise be considered in developing broadly inclusive programs, e.g., children and adults with physical, cognitive, or literacy limitations, people from non-Western cultures, non-English speaking families, etc. We have described a typical grant applicant situation in the FAQs section.

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What We Do Not Fund

  • Operating or general sustaining expenses, or existing deficits
  • Endowments
  • Capital costs, including construction, renovation, or equipment
  • Direct health care or treatment
  • Biomedical research
  • Individuals
  • Advertising
  • Projects or programs for which results and effect cannot be assessed
  • Sports tournaments & other fundraising events
  • Efforts to influence legislation or lobbying for a political candidate
  • Sacramental or theological functions of religious organizations

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Where We Fund

Our community-based grantmaking is concentrated in Massachusetts because that’s where Massachusetts Health Decisions (the “parent” of HDR) has operated for more than 25 years. However, we also fund projects and programs nationwide, and welcome applications from organizations in any state.

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Amount

Typically, we provide one-time funding in amounts from $1000 – $7,500. We will consider larger requests on a case-by-case basis. We reserve the right to award grants for less than the full amount requested. The number of grants and total dollars we award will depend on the applications we receive and our available resources. Submitting an application does not guarantee funding.

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How to Apply

First, review the funding guidelines on this page and the list of projects in the Grants Portfolio to see if your proposed program or project is a good fit with the kind of programs that we are able to fund.

If you’re not sure if your project meets our guidelines, please send us a very brief description of your project using our Contact Form. We’ll let you know in a few days if you should submit a complete application.

When you’re ready to apply, download the application. The application is simple and direct. You can download a copy and complete it anytime. You don’t have to complete the application at a single session. You can complete some of it, print out a copy at any stage, and save it. HDR will not keep any information about you or your organization until you actually email the completed application to us.

The application will ask you to attach some additional information (a copy of your tax exemption, for instance) which you can send as a PDF. These documents will become part of the application. Please note that we accept only those applications that are submitted as PDFs by email.

When you have completed filling in the application and described your program in less than two pages, email the application and other documents to us at HDR@masshealthdecisions.org.

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Review Process

HDR staff will review complete applications (including attachments) for overall quality and alignment with our own goals and mission. In reviewing your request, we will look at how completely the application questions have been answered.

In some cases, we will ask outside reviewers who are familiar with the content or topic of your project / program to evaluate your application and make comments or suggestions. Final funding decisions are made by HDR staff and Board members of Massachusetts Health Decisions. We reserve the right to reject any proposal, including proposals that are lacking key information. If you have additional questions, see the FAQs below.

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Timeline

Your projected start date should allow at least six weeks for us to review your application. In many cases, we can review your application in less time, but in the event we approve your request, we still need time to send a check and you may need time for your organization to process the payment.

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How Often Can We Apply?

We generally award only one grant per organization per year. If you have already received a grant from us, you may apply for continued or additional funding, but the new project cannot start until after the conclusion of your existing grant. We will give preference to applications from organizations who have never received funding.

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Award Notification

We try to review and make decisions to fund (or decline) applications as soon as possible, but usually within six weeks after receiving a completed application. If we need additional information, or our reviewers make suggestions that we think would be useful to you in reconsidering your project, program or request, we’ll contact you the quickest way. We will inform you of our decision by e-mail. If we decide to decline your application, we’ll tell you why.

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Reporting Requirements

At the conclusion of your program or project, we ask that you provide us with:

  1. Summary financial report that shows how the funds we provided were spent;
  2. A brief report that tells whether and how the project or program achieved its goals;
  3. Any materials describing your program that you are willing to share with other groups that have similar objectives, to be archived in an on-line searchable database (e.g., copies of handout materials, brochures, publications, budgets, timelines, photos, summary of audience or participant evaluations, etc.)

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FAQs

Q: Does our project fit with HDR Guidelines?

A: Before you go ahead and complete a full application, Contact Us and let us know what you’re thinking. We’ll reply within a few days and let you know if an application will be considered or not.


Q: Our project will cost more than $5000. We have an idea for a public education program that we’d like to develop and pilot in our hospital. If successful, we’ll expand it to the other 12 care facilities in our network. The program involves building a website, video production and more, and we already know that developing this program will cost far more than $5,000. We need help putting it together as well as long-term funding. What can you suggest?

A: HDR realizes that organizations, especially small groups, sometimes need funding for unusual purposes, such as:

  • securing a consultant who will help the organization develop a program or project concept to the point of seeking major grant funding;
  • hiring a grant writer to seek substantially more funding for a large or multi-year project;
  • making deposits for venue reservation, catering, or advance publicity for events where registration fees may ultimately cover such costs

Traditional funding sources, like foundations, are often reluctant to provide planning or technical assistance grants. And funding for conferences is similarly difficult, especially for smaller events. HDR will consider such requests on a case-by-case basis.


Q: If we get a grant from HDR, how long do we have to spend it all?

A: Most groups will use the funds within six months or less. But we know that sometimes even the best plans go awry, and milestones have to be changed. However, we ask that all funds be spent within one year. If some or all the funds have not been spent, and a final report made to us within that time, you must return unspent funds.


Q: Our agency is in Massachusetts, but we are part of a larger organization based in New York. Can we still apply for funding?

A: Yes. HDR’s primary focus is in Massachusetts where Massachusetts Health Decisions—the “parent” of HDR—is based. But it funds projects and programs throughout New England and the US. So long as your agency is a health care, education, or other nonprofit agency and your proposed project or program meets our guidelines, you can apply.


Q: Can we apply for funding to put together a fund-raiser for our home care agency?

A: No. Because HDR is a program of a nonprofit, tax exempt organization (Massachusetts Health Decisions, Inc.), it can only fund charitable work–in our case, conducting and facilitating education in health care.


Q: Our community health center would like to have one of our outreach workers trained to be fluent in American Sign Language (ASL) so she can work with our patients from the deaf and deaf-blind community? Can we apply for funding to help with this?

A: Yes. Grants that help nonprofit groups to carry out their missions more effectively are called “capacity-building grants.” HDR would consider your request to support special staff training or education.


Q: Can you tell us what kind of request for funding is typical?

A: Throughout its 25-year history, Massachusetts Health Decisions—the “parent” of HDR—held conferences, training programs, seminars, in-service training events and more. From time to time, it had to modify a plan, or reduce the planned scope of a project, simply because adequate funding was not available. Perhaps there were no funds to pay an honorarium to a particular speaker, hire an ASL interpreter, rent special equipment, or provide high-quality print materials for hand-outs. Our aim with HDR is to help organizations bring worthwhile projects to life in situations where traditional foundation funding would probably be unavailable. Below is a description of a typical situation and request.

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Sample funding applicant

An OB/GYN nurse, nurse midwife, patient advocate and a social worker, all staff at a small community hospital, want to present an education program to non-English speaking parents-to-be. They designed the program to help participants navigate the American health care system, and especially to maximize the relationships the participants will have with various care providers in the months ahead. While St. Agnes hospital is willing to donate space for the program, the space is inappropriate for the occasion. The program organizers want to hold the program off-site where they can conduct the program, serve a modest hot lunch, and provide culturally appropriate child care. They also need one or more interpreters, have a PowerPoint program and handout materials translated into several non-English languages, provide for attendees with low literacy skills, and have handouts printed.

Funding for the program is challenging. The hospital CFO reports that the community benefit budget for the year is depleted. The project staff doesn’t include an experienced grant writer. And besides, they find that no foundation would fund or even consider a project tentatively scheduled just six weeks away. While organizers have secured in-kind donations of printing and some child care, they still need $3800 for rental, food service, child care, interpreters, and translations.

The organizers find the HDR website in a Google search for “community health education” and “grants.” They explore HDR’s guidelines and think their idea might be a good fit with HDR’s mission. Before completing an on-line application, they send an initial inquiry to see if an application would even be considered. They receive an affirmative answer within 48 hours. They complete a straightforward on-line application the next day, and submit the application electronically with additional supporting materials. Staff alert two reviewers that a program in their area of interest has been submitted and invite their assessment, comments and suggestions within 3 – 5 days if possible. One HDR reviewer suggests adapting program handouts for use as stock hospital materials, and another suggests inviting nursing students currently working with pediatrics. With no impediments, the St. Agnes staff could conceivably receive a funding check within a few weeks–as well as suggestions which could improve the effectiveness and reach of the program overall.

Following the program, HDR will ask the grantees to send/upload any materials that they believe give an accurate description of how the grant was used and that could be viewed (and possibly used) by others looking to develop a similar program. In this case, the searchable archive might include any or all of the following:

  1. Narrative of perceived need for the program
  2. Program overview / synopsis
  3. Planning elements, e.g., setting; needed personal & professional services; audiovisual and technical services and equipment, etc.
  4. Budget, with detail
  5. Other funding sources considered and outcome
  6. Copies of print / digital materials (intellectual property rights respected)
  7. Any grantee evaluative notes

When you’re ready to apply, download the application. You can open, complete, and download the application at any time, whether or not you submit it. HDR doesn’t save any information about you or your organization until you email the application to us.

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