It’s true: change is the only constant. At the Alberta Cancer Foundation, that saying fits us well. As we usher in a new summer season, we look back at how far we’ve come the last few years. In 2011, we added a new CEO to our roster and had a new sense of urgency to make life better for Albertans facing cancer. At the time, we already had the distinction of being the province’s largest philanthropic investor in cancer research, investing millions in research, enhanced care, prevention and screening every year.
But we wanted to do more. We focused on impact investing, where decisions about what to fund are based not only on scientific or academic considerations, but also on the possible outcomes for patients and the time frame for seeing results. The goal: a shift in culture from a fundraising body to one that took an active role in achieving results by helping patients, researchers, clinicians and industry work together to do things in a new way.
So we developed a framework to measure the impact of various initiatives and to understand how to re-evaluate them on an ongoing basis. We asked ourselves, would an initiative potentially benefit a large part of the population? Or would it have a big impact on a smaller number of people? How many lives and how much money could be saved if various types of cancers were detected earlier? How much would it cost the health-care system to invest in new diagnostic technologies? What are the investment opportunities that resonate with donors? How should risks, such as failure to get results, be understood and measured? This may sound like a logical way to operate, but traditionally it wasn’t happening to that level of detail in most philanthropic organizations.
We are already noticing results. One example is in the area of personalized medicine for treating breast cancer. Through its selection process, the foundation is investing in research on biological markers of the disease that aims to understand which treatments will work best for cancer patients with a particular biomarker. It will also provide appropriate treatment to those patients who will benefit and provide more appropriate treatments to other patients, avoiding unnecessary treatments, improving their quality of life.
We are also listening to the people who know cancer best: the patients. Our new patient partnership strategy means we rely on patients to help us understand how treatments work in real clinical practice with real people. You can read more about how that might work here.
So yes, change can be a good thing and we will continue to embrace it as long as it means we are making life better for Albertans. We can’t wait to share that progress with you.
Read the full story about our framework here: upfront.pwc.com/trust/695-deep-impact
Myka Osinchuk, CEO
Alberta Cancer Foundation
Angela Boehm, Chair
Alberta Cancer Foundation