Physicians established the Columbus Medical Association Foundation (CMAF) in 1958 as a health education foundation. In 1992, CMAF received a large infusion of cash from the sale of Physicians Health Plan establishing the CMAF as a health care grant maker. As one of the nation's largest medical association-affiliated endowments, the CMAF has awarded over $30 million to more than 400 local nonprofit organizations since 1992.
During the 1990s the CMAF primarily served as a reactive grant maker - funding a wide range of health care projects. During the late 90s the CMAF also began to roughly define strategic initiatives as a means to begin focusing its resources. The CMAF created Access HealthColumbus during this period to examine ways and develop opportunities that provide the uninsured and under-served populations of greater Columbus access to health care services. During this time the Foundation also entered into the development and fundraising arena to provide opportunities for individuals and organizations to join them in their effort to improve the health of the community. The establishment of charitable component funds of the foundations encouraged donors to focus their charitable giving on health and wellness matters of interest to them.
In 2005, the CMAF once again began to redefine its funding priorities. CMAF recognized that its limited resources would be overshadowed by the increasing community need for health programming funding support. Out of respect for the limited resources of grant seekers, CMAF led the community in the implementation of pre-submission of ideas to gauge the Foundation's interest.
The CMAF also adopted a catalytic grant-making philosophy for responsive grants, seeking to exact significant change. The CMAF prioritized initiatives and funded grants that offered the greatest hope for creating significant, constructive change or action in health systems related to increasing access to health care (both physical and mental health), health promotion, health maintenance, reducing health disparities, and increasing health literacy.
The CMAF also redefined how it approached strategic grant-making by investing its resources in five strategic areas in Franklin County and the six contiguous counties. These areas of investment included: Affordable and Sustainable Health Care; Health Care Safety Net; Convening Conversations on Health and Health Care; Health Disparities; and Youth Philanthropy and Leadership.
This was a significant shift in the foundation's approach and reflected the desire of the CMAF leadership to become a more strategic funder.
In 2009 the Foundation adopted a new strategic direction and redefined its approach to philanthropy and philanthropic relationships. The Foundation's mission since 2009 is to affect change within specific priority areas to improve the health of all central Ohio residents.
Transforming clinical health delivery, supporting and improving health care safety net services to the uninsured, saving and improving lives through the coordination of trauma and emergency health care resources, and advancing the leadership capacity of youth to engage in health philanthropy were identified as priorities. Strategic grantee partners were identified, and proposals requested to affect change in these areas.
As a 501(c)(3) organization, the Foundation continues to serve as a vehicle through which individuals and organizations can fulfill their specific charitable interests in the medical and health and wellness area.