In a novel philanthropic-private sector collaboration, the Helmsley Charitable Trust (HCT) has announced a gift of $4 million to be made to DexCom, in the hopes of accelerating by two years the development and availability of the Gen6 Continuous Glucose Monitor. The monitor, which has the potential to change the lives of patients who need it, will drastically improve the accuracy and reliability of glucose-level testing. The device will benefit anyone with diabetes but will be especially useful to those with type 1 diabetes. These patients' glucose levels are more likely to dip and soar unpredictably.
A big philanthropy supporting a for-profit, private-sector effort like this is not a common thing, and big inferences about HCT's mission and philosophy can be drawn from the announcement. Namely, it's pretty obvious here that HCT is all about the end product: the breakthrough innovation with the potential to change lives that results from all the hard work and research. The trust won't be interested in reading proposals about nuanced research initiatives that try to chip away at a problem. It wraps up a bundle of its money and goes looking for someone who's dreaming really big, be it in the non-profit world or in industry.
All this may be a sign of HCT's relative newness to the philanthropy game (it was founded in 2008), or it may just be how Helmsley rolls. We're not sure. What we do know is that for this new health-care giving giant, it is emphatically not about the journey, the process, the method. It's about getting to that big, impressive, world-changing outcome.