by Kimberley Hanson, CEO, HealthPartners 

Since I joined HealthPartners a little over a year ago, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the value of a collaborative and how to harness it.  

Recently, I had the pleasure of connecting with Amanda Bok, Chief Strategy Officer at an inspiring organisation called The Synergist. Our conversation was thought-provoking and inspirational, connecting me to a wide network of people applying the principles of collective impact to solve urgent societal issues. It got me reflecting on how a synergistic approach can catalyze the impact health charities in Canada can have through their collaboration as members of HealthPartners.  

As a coalition of 17 national patient organizations, HealthPartners was created in recognition of the fact that a group of people working towards a common purpose can create a whole that, to quote Aristotle, is greater than the sum of its parts. Led by the Canadian Cancer Society, 16 health charities came together in 1985 to fundraise in workplaces together. They were practicing principles that appear in The Synergist Manifesto, considering the bigger picture and embracing the complexity of fundraising through workplace campaigns, and leaning into the collective intelligence of members to build a collaborative that works.  

But that focus on synergy didn’t stop in 1985 – it carries on to this day. HealthPartners members know that system change is infinite: supporting everyone in Canada in tackling the major ailments that will affect some 90 per cent of us in our lifetime (as HealthPartners members do) requires constant adaptation. One example of that was the choice in 2021 to add the Mental Health Commission of Canada to our list of member charities, thereby addressing a growing area of need among people in Canada. 

Fundamentally, HealthPartners members continue to lead collaboratively, carving out shared purpose and excelling through non-competition in workplace fundraising. 

But what has that dedication to synergy accomplished? The results may surprise you: the HealthPartners collaborative has raised well over $230 million in its 35 years of operations and that those funds have equated to hundreds of millions of dollars of research into prevention, treatment, and cures of more than 400 chronic and acute diseases, as well as direct supports to tens of millions of people in Canada. Now that is collective impact. 

Inspired by HealthPartners’ history of synergizing and by the visionary work of The Synergist and its countless partners, I am committed to continuing to embrace the principles outlined in the Manifesto to help heal what ails people in Canada and create a healthier Canada for all.