213196 Improvising Philanthropy in 1900s New York: Creative Models for Financing Public Health

Tuesday, November 10, 2009: 5:20 PM

Robert Eldon Harvey, MPH, MBA , Campaign Co-Chair, Center for History and Ethics of Public Health, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, New York, NY
In the 21 st -century U.S., donors to non-profit organizations often assume that philanthropy fits into a fixed model involving a clear separation between private and public funds. Donors are believed to give private operating funds (such as to the Red Cross); private capital and private operating funds (such as in a donation to a college); or private capital with public operating funds (such as in the case of the National Gallery of Art). While some Progressive-era philanthropy followed this pattern, this study of heiress Elizabeth Milbank Anderson's public health projects in New York demonstrates that such efforts often failed to conform to a conventional, well-defined model. Anderson's gifts to the Trudeau Sanatarium, the Milbank Public Baths, and the Chappaqua Home for Convalescent Children consisted of both private capital and operating funds. But her funding of the Home Hospital for the Tubercular consisted of private capital and operating funds combined with public operating funds; for the NYC School Lunch Program and Bronx Park Employment Program of private operating funds and public capital and management; for the Children's Home Bureau of both private and public operating funds, and for the National Committee on Mental Hygiene of private operating funds supplemented with public capital. This presentation will examine this case study of public health philanthropy; the controversies that the novel funding arrangements provoked; as well as how the city's changing public health needs, volatile party politics, fluctuations in the economy and changes in religious morays influenced the funding model. Moreover, it will address the ways that this case serves as a key antecedent to the complex public-private financing models for public health and health services which persist to this day.

Learning Objectives:
1. Explain the unique role of philanthropy, the private and voluntary sectors in American public health programs. 2. Discuss the particular challenges of public-private collaborations in public health through study of historical example. 3. Demonstrate how historical examples can be used to inform current debates over public health.

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have completed both an MBA and MPH and have worked in financial management for several decades, dealing with non-profit organizations and more recently with university fund-raising and public health. I also completed an MPH thesis on the topic of Philanthropy and Public Health
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.