Margaret Anderson
Executive Director, FasterCures
Bioscience and Health and Medical Research and Regulation and Science
Margaret Anderson is executive director of FasterCures/The Center for Accelerating Medical Solutions, defining the organization's strategic priorities and positions on key issues, developing its programmatic portfolio, and managing its operations. Prior to her appointment as executive director, she was FasterCures' chief operating officer for five years.
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#GivingSmarter this #GivingTuesday
By: Margaret Anderson
December 03, 2013


'Tis the season to take a step back from the year-end rush, reflect, give thanks, and think about where we can give back. #GivingTuesday gives us all a platform to come together and commit to a project or ideal that gives back to those in need this season. In medical research, philanthropic giving plays a critical and outsized role in speeding up the process of turning scientific discoveries into new medicines that can improve and save lives. Nonprofit disease research foundations are fast becoming the engine behind innovation in biomedical research.

Being an informed and educated donor can make a world of difference in patientsaEUR(TM) lives. Asking the right questions about where to donate your money and where you can get the greatest return on your philanthropy can make an impact in helping to save time and save lives in the patient community.

Not sure where to start? FasterCuresaEUR(TM) Philanthropy Advisory Service (PAS) has developed some guidelines to help those looking to donate to medical research. Our publications Getting Started and Giving Smarter can help with your medical research philanthropic giving decisions.

Getting Started details some of the challenges that the medical research enterprise is facing to help clue in philanthropists to areas of high unmet need. It gives an overview of:

  • Discovery Research, the earliest stage of research
  • Translational Research, the process of applying ideas, insights, and basic discoveries to actual treatments
  • Clinical Research, research in human subjects aiming towards approved treatments for patients
  • Regulatory Application & Approval, the process of candidate projects being determined as safe and effective
  • Nonprofit actors and their role in the R&D system, such as academic institutions, medical research foundations, and product development partnerships

When making smart giving decisions, first you should define your philanthropic priorities.The decision to invest in medical R&D is motivated by a broad range of factors: a personal experience or that of a loved one with a specific disease, the desire to improve health and save lives, the aspiration to improve the status quo. To help assess your priorities and preferences, ask yourself these key questions:

  • What disease am I passionate about?
  • Who do I want to help and why?
  • Would I rather fund R&D for new products, or development of tools and resources to support R&D?
  • Am I interested in prevention, diagnosis, or treatment?
  • How soon do I expect to see a product or tangible outcomes?
  • Do I know which stage of the R&D pipeline I should support?
  • How much risk am I willing to take to potentially transform R&D efforts?

Next, itis important to assess the return on your philanthropy to help ensure that you achieve the greatest impact possible. To measure the potential impact of an organization, consider these key drivers of organizational success:

  • What practices would an exemplary organization employ to ensure maximum accountability in its operations?
  • How can an organization demonstrate its commitment to collaboration?
  • How do you objectively measure an organizationaEUR(TM)s effectiveness and impact?
  • What elements should you examine to assess an organizationaEUR(TM)s capacity to build resources necessary to advance a robust research agenda?

Through informed and strategic decision-making, medical research donors can help cultivate a culture that is mission-driven, results-oriented, and focused on the true bottom line: prevents, diagnosing, and curing disease.

To better understand the unique potential of venture philanthropy groups in medical research, download a copy of Honest Brokers for Cures.