As a major academic health center, we have a role in interrupting inequities as well as understanding how they came about; the underpinning of these inequities being racism. Racial disparities, including health and wealth, require us to play an active role in supporting and investing in our communities of color.
Dismantling racism through our investment in the community
Many of our contributions build upon deep, long-standing relationships and are made in recognition of multiple programmatic connections between UW Health and the organizations. Other contributions are growing our partnerships to demonstrate our commitment to anti-racism and community health improvement, and some are “transformational” gifts that allow an organization to grow.
As part of UW Health’s commitment to dismantle racism in ourselves, our system and our community, our charitable giving in Dane County prioritizes partnering with organizations led by people of color and historically marginalized communities.
We are building our Community Relations Program in Northern Illinois. SwedishAmerican Health System had a long legacy of being a strong partner in the Rockford area, and that commitment continues now as UW Health. We will continue to support local organizations addressing pressing needs and offering critical services to community members.
We are committed to equity-based giving principles:
Prioritizing organizations that have historically had access to the least resources
Non-bureaucratic: no formal application or reporting required, responsive and nimble
First-hand knowledge of the work and intentional partnerships
UW Health has long been a leader in the fight for healthcare equity in our community. We are committed to supporting local organizations leading anti-racism work in our communities.
The importance of supporting historically marginalized communities
Centuries of racially inequitable health outcomes have been the result of structurally racist policies and practices in healthcare that directly impact our employees, our patients, and thus our community.
Along with identifying structural racism and interrupting it within our organization, we
also must recognize the inequitable impact of COVID-19 on communities of color and how this pandemic has continued to exacerbate already racially inequitable health outcomes.
Organizations led by people of color have 76% less unrestricted net assets compared to organizations led by white people* and only 10% of philanthropic dollars goes to communities of color.** Leaders of color have more lived experience and understanding of the issues they are working to address.
Best practices in trust-based philanthropy
Trust-based giving removes power imbalances and emphasizes relationships, which is the cornerstone of our giving program.
We develop genuine, intentional relationships with a diverse array of community members so we are able to have honest conversations about what is going on in the community and what needs to be done. We bring these perspectives to our decision-making.
Having genuine, intentional and ongoing relationships allows us to remove the barriers that require a lot of time from our community partner non-profits so that our investment can reach the people who need it the most more quickly.
While most corporate funders require a formal application, fund only during certain times, and require specific reporting, our focus is on providing unrestricted trust-based gifts.
We also use our relationships with other corporate funders to advocate on behalf of community partners.
Supporting our community partners
UW Health supports more than 250 organizations and programs from the region, including health-related, non-profits, programs aimed at providing basic needs and grassroots community-based organizations.
In general, UW Health follows these criteria for cash donations or sponsorships:
The organization or event effectively addresses a community health priority or a key aspect of our mission.
There are direct benefits to our patients and families.
The organization supports research into a community health priority at our institution.
Our employees are involved and supportive. The organization or event promotes employee and citizen volunteerism.
The support positively affects public awareness of our community involvement and the issue or cause.
We can support the organization or event at a level that makes a strategic difference to us and them.
The organization or event provides direct benefit to our employees and communities.
The gift advances our interests as a "corporate citizen" and major employer as well as health care provider.
The organization or event cooperates rather than competes with similar organizations and strives to minimize duplication of services.
In general, UW Health applies the following eligibility criteria:
Organizations must be non-profit organizations exempt from federal income taxes under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code or governmental bodies.
The organization must conduct business without discrimination on the basis of race, national origin, ancestry, religion, gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, marital status, age, veteran status or disability.
However, we will consider requests from such organizations when their activities fulfill our general criteria and do not discriminate or focus on content that discriminates. For example, we will consider requests from organizations of a religious nature if the support is focused on a non-religious aspect of their activity.
We do not provide sponsorships or contributions to the following:
Political or fraternal organizations
Organizations that provide no direct local or regional benefit
UW Health events or activities
University of Wisconsin activities and events. We direct our financial support through UW School of Medicine and Public Health and other health science schools
Individuals or teams (unless part of event sponsorship or for one UW Health team)
Safe Sleep Sabbath Partners
Community benefits report
Living our mission
UW Health provided approximately $325.9 million in total community benefits in Fiscal Year 2021. In addition to our annual community relations budget, this includes activities for which we do not get paid from an outside source such as charity care, workforce development programs, community health education, support groups and medication assistance.
Employees in the community
UW Health employees provide generous support in the form of volunteer hours and donations to organizations in our communities.
Community Relations manages several of the internal drives and activities that UW Health participates in to support our community including:
Employee charitable giving campaign: Community Relations provides support to our annual employee campaigns, which include Partners in Giving, Friends of UW Health and the United Way of Rock River Valley. For more information, please contact us.
Annual drives: Each year, our employees give back through several drives benefitting local partners.
Results from our latest campaigns
Toys collected through Toys for Tots-Dane County: 3,000
Meals for Second Harvest Foodbank of Southern Wisconsin: 70,125
Families supported through the Salvation Army of Dane County's Adopt-a-Family program: 82
Children supported through the Winnebago/Boone County Foster Care Alliance Adopt-an-Angel: 150
Warm clothing items and accessories collected for the Center for Mental Health and Care Management patients in Rockford: 100
We're here for you
Juli Aulik, Director, Community Relations
Annie Bockhop, Program Manager, Community Relations and Diversity
Our commitment to equity
Community Relations makes funding decisions in partnership with our colleagues in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and Population Health.