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Frequently Asked Questions

Single white dogwood flower with green leaves poking out form behind,

Dogwood Health Trust is a private non-operating foundation with the sole purpose of dramatically improving the health and wellbeing of all people and communities of Western North Carolina.

Dogwood Health Trust was established to receive the proceeds from the sale of the assets of the nonprofit Mission Health System to HCA Healthcare in January 2019. Dogwood is not affiliated in any way with either Mission Health System or HCA. It is governed and operated as an independent entity under the charge of its CEO and Board of Directors. Dogwood is also separate and independent of the legacy foundations that formerly supported Mission Health hospitals.

A private non-operating foundation grants money to other organizations. This is the more common type of private foundation. These foundations do not directly perform their own charitable programs.

The legacy foundations are comprised of the former supporting organizations for the local Mission Health hospitals. They are fully independent private foundations. The legacy foundations are: AMY Wellness Foundation, Gateway Wellness Foundation, Highlands Cashiers Health Foundation, Nantahala Health Foundation, Pisgah Health Foundation and WNC Bridge Foundation.

Dogwood Health Trust is separate and independent of the legacy foundations and there is no formal relationship. The legacy foundations are fully independent in their strategy for funding and their investments will be made in their respective, specified geographies.

To ensure a smooth transition with no disruption in services for the people of Western North Carolina, the former nonprofit Mission Health System committed up to $15 million to each legacy foundation (former Mission Health System foundations). This commitment also includes supporting the salaries of their executive directors for up to a two-year period. Dogwood Health Trust is currently providing back office and strategic planning support as the foundations establish themselves.

No, Dogwood it is not the former Mission Health System Foundation.

Mission Health System Foundation was a supporting organization of Mission Health. Its donors funded the critical needs of Mission Health through Cases for Support and did not fund community nonprofits. Funding to several nonprofit organizations came through Mission’s Community Investment program.

Dogwood Health Trust was established on May 16, 2018 as an independent foundation and became fully operational on February 1, 2019.

Dogwood Health Trust invests in Western North Carolina organizations that address factors impacting a person’s health and wellbeing, often referred to as the social determinants of health. As a partner and collaborator across the 18-county region, Dogwood engages primarily in grantmaking as well as convening nonprofits and collaborating with local, state and national experts who are also working to improve overall health and wellbeing across communities.

Dogwood Health Trust serves ALL of the people in communities across the 18 counties of Western North Carolina and the Qualla Boundary, including Avery, Buncombe, Burke, Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Haywood, Henderson, Jackson, Macon, Madison, McDowell, Mitchell, Polk, Rutherford, Swain, Transylvania and Yancey.

Dogwood Health Trust partners with other organizations, government entities, nonprofits and other funders to address factors that impact people’s health and wellbeing across a wide range of areas including economic stability, education, housing and health and wellness. This work has the potential to exponentially improve outcomes fostering sustainable solutions for generations to come.

For example, among Dogwood’s first investments will be $25 million over five years to help fund programs and services addressing substance use disorders for residents of Western North Carolina in partnership and collaboration with the NC Department of Health and Human Services.

The organization is governed by a CEO and the Dogwood Health Trust Board of Directors, a diverse group of community leaders who serve as volunteers, without compensation. Directors provide primary fiduciary oversight and seek to ensure a sustainable future through sound, ethical governance and financial management. The Board is an evolving body committed to maintaining its reflection of Western North Carolina through a diverse and informed membership constantly focused on the needs of all people and communities of this region.

There is also a team of staff members that assures the day-to-day operations of Dogwood.

It is essential that the directors of Dogwood are reflective of the geography, diversity and cultures found across Western North Carolina. Learn more about the nomination process.

In a nutshell, the Internal Revenue Service requires private foundations like Dogwood Health Trust to invest at least 5% of their assets in community every year.  Because Dogwood Health Trust is a start-up foundation, the IRS allows for a gradual ramp-up of five years to meet that mark (e.g. 1% in year one, 2% in year two, etc.) However, Dogwood Health Trust has chosen to distribute funds at a much faster rate than required, and anticipates grantmaking of more than $47 million in 2020 (year one), and anticipating $65 million in 2021

Dogwood’s core investment decisions will be informed by listening to nonprofit partners and learning from other collaborative work, which will inform the Board’s Strategic Plan. This Plan will result in a grant program with priorities for funding are directly aimed at addressing the gaps in people’s abilities to have and meet goals for their own health and wellbeing.

In Spring of 2019, Dogwood Health Trust hosted Listening Engagements with nonprofit and community leaders throughout Western North Carolina to learn about the strengths, challenges and opportunities to improve health and wellbeing in the local communities that they serve.

Dogwood hosted three public meetings in October of 2019 in the East, Central and West regions, and will host at least one annual meeting each year. In addition, Dogwood’s Impact Team constantly works to meet new partners and collaborate with existing ones. We welcome ideas and inquiries from the community at any time. Simply email an Impact Team member directly, or share your thoughts at [email protected]

Read comments from our Annual Meeting or view the meeting, and read our Annual Report. You can find information and insights from the Phase 1 Listening Engagements here.

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