Philanthropy’s Uneasy Journey Into Mental Health Grantmaking

What do veteran grantmakers have to say about investing in behavioral health?

In the paper, “Philanthropy’s Uneasy Journey Into Mental Health Grantmaking,” published by by Mallet R. Reid, M.A./M.S.W., and Robert J. (Bob) Reid, Ph.D., Edge Philanthropy; Ximena Murillo, M.I.B., United4Change Center; and Anna Bobb, M.P.H., Vreds Philanthropy in The Foundation Review, 17 national, regional, and local foundations—with assets ranging from just under $1 million to $12 billion (and a mean of $2.2 billion, median of $130 million)—were interviewed regarding their experiences funding mental and behavioral health projects. Our participants were highly experienced—with a mean age of 35 years, compared to the fact that 70% of U.S. foundations have come into existence in the past 15 years according to Foundation Source.

US Mental Health Statistics

Even among these seasoned players, our study suggests grantmakers experience unique challenges in entering the field of behavioral health. They struggle to find logical entry points, identify subject matter expertise, and to crisply define projects in that they show impact in a system that is so stacked against mental health.  The lessons they these grantmakers learned, challenges they encountered, and opportunities they identified can serve as roadmaps for the thousands of foundations now considering mental and behavioral health care grants.

Read the full study published in The Foundation Review here.