Partner Forumnotes August 2013

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Engaging for Impact: Three Community Meetings Highlight Themes for Thought

"Change can happen locally if people work together; if we leverage community assets; if we develop a culture of philanthropy." -- Participant in one of three Donors Forum community meetings held in late July

More than 70 members of the philanthropic and nonprofit community attended three Donors Forum-sponsored community meetings in late July to provide feedback on strategies related to our three-year strategic plan, Engaging for Impact.

The lively sessions highlighted not only the challenges the sector currently faces in Illinois given the economic environment, but also the thoughtfulness, energy, and passion that exists within our community.

These listening opportunities form the core of the first year of the Engaging for Impact plan, and we will be holding additional listening sessions in downstate Illinois in the Fall to broaden the diversity of perspectives we receive. However, a number of themes emerged this week:
  • A high value is placed on face-to-face engagement opportunities.
  • Sector-wide public policy issues are a priority.
  • There is a need to connect local, regional, and state collaborations.
Read the rest of the findings here, on the Engaging 4 Impact microsite. You can also leave comments and feedback about the plan (click on the "Contact" tab at the top at the top of the microsite), whether or not you attended one of the community meetings.

A Big Step in the Right Direction: Topinka Launches Illinois Nonprofit Advisory Council to Tackle Fiscal Challenges Facing Charities
Donors Forum's President and CEO Valerie S. Lies, as well as Board Member Graham Grady, are Appointed to the Council
At a press conference on July 17, Illinois Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka announced the formation of the new Illinois Nonprofit Advisory Council, the first of its kind in the nation. The Council will meet regularly to address the severe and persistent fiscal challenges facing nonprofits due to delays in state payments. 
Among the 17 members of the council are Valerie S. Lies, President and CEO of Donors Forum (seated on the left in the photo); and attorney Graham Grady, who is a Trustee of the African American Legacy Fund and a Donors Forum Board Member (standing third from the left in the photo). 
A blog post by Lies, "How Nonprofits and Government Can Work Together to Tackle Illinois Challenges," was published July 23 in the online Huffington Post. Lies points out the importance of nonprofits and philanthropies joining with policymakers to develop solutions to the fiscal issues facing nonprofits; she also highlights Donors Forum's Public Nonprofit Partnership Initiative, an example of a such a partnership, which aims to strengthen the relationship between nonprofits and state government so policymakers truly understand the value of the sector. Read the blog post here.

New Resource Available

The most recent issue of The Lane Report, published by Associate Member Marc J. Lane, advises how to resolve disputes relating to website domain names. Such disputes are not uncommon, and if your domain’s name is disputed, you are likely bound by the terms of the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy. Read more here.

News, Job Changes, and Other Updates from the Donors Forum Community
Emilia DiMenco is the new President and CEO of the Women's Business Development Center. She joined WBDC in 2010 as COO; prior to that, she served on the WBDC Board for seven years. DiMenco is a former Executive Vice President at BMO Harris. She succeeds Hedy M. Ratner and S. Carol Dougal, Co-Founders and Co-Presidents. Ratner will continue working with WBDC as a consultant; both Ratner and Dougal will continue as members of the WBDC Board.

At the Lloyd A. Fry Foundation, Unmi Song has been named President; she joined the foundation in 2003 as Executive Director. And, Soo Na has been promoted to Senior Program Officer. Read the press release here. Also, Sarah Slavin will join Fry on Aug. 5 as the new Education Program Officer, Previously she was Executive Director of the Chicago office of Teach Plus; read the press release here.
Kate McAdams has left the position of Executive Director of The Pritzker Traubert Family Foundation to start a new position at the Department of Commerce in Washington, D.C. Jody Boutell, Grants Manager, is the new lead contact for the foundation.

Tony Smith is the New Executive Director at W. Clement and Jessie V. Stone Foundation. Previously, he was superintendent of schools in Oakland, California. Also, the Stone Foundation executive offices will be relocating from San Francisco to Chicago in the Fall; read more here.
Four people from organizations that belong to Donors Forum are among those named to the Chicago Council on Global Affairs Emerging Leaders Class of 2015: Roseanna Ander from the UIC Crime Lab; Sarah Herda from the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts; Sean Knierim from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation; and Kuliva Wilburn from The Chicago Community Trust. Read more here.

Donors Forum Member Coinstar, Inc., the parent company of Chicago-based Redbox, has changed its name to Outerwall to better reflect its diverse businesses. Read more here. And, read Outerwall's 2012 CSR Report here.

New Board Members at the Center for Economic Progress are Eddie Gershman, Individual Income Tax Competency Leader at Deloitte Tax; and Jodie Winnett, founder and Principal of Winnett Civic Ingenuity.

Taproot Foundation and the Foundation Center have launched a partnership to expand knowledge-sharing resources and support for the nonprofit sector. The partnership focuses on expanding the accessibility, range, and quality of resources available to nonprofits and enabling companies and foundations to best support nonprofits in unique, strategic ways. Read more here.

Caitlin Polochak is the new Project Specialist, Communications and Corporate Responsibility at ArcelorMittal. Heather Ross has moved to another department in the company.

Harriet Edmonds is the new Grants Manager at The Brinson Foundation. She has been a tax professional at H&R Block for more than 10 years, most recently as a Senior Tax Preparer.

Caitlyn Hicks is the new Administrative Assistant/Grants Administrator at The Siragusa Foundation. She is a graduate of the University of Colorado at Boulder, where she studied business and anthropology.

Job Openings

Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Metropolitan Chicago - Manager of Corporate and Foundation Relations; email

The Cara Program - Individual Giving Manager

Crisis Center for South Suburbia - Director of Resource Development and Community Relations

Crown Family Philanthropies - Program Associates

Donors Forum - Vice President, Public Policy

Donors Forum - Communications and Development Volunterns

Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation - Grants Management and Administrative Assistant

Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation - Program Officer, Chicago Program

Grainger - Manager, Charitable Contributions

Groupon - Manager, Impact Measurement and Data Storytelling

Horizon Hospice and Palliative Care- Communications and Development Associate

Latinos Progresando - Development Assistant

GCE Foundation - Volunteer Board Members

Requests for Proposals

Go to this page on Donors Forum's website for overviews of requests for proposals and other opportunities from the organizations listed below:
  • Latino Giving Circle, an initiative of The Chicago Community Trust
  • Nuestro Futuro, an initiative of The Chicago Community Trust
  • The Vistex Foundation 

Other Opportunities

Organizations and individuals are invited to submit stories to Allstate’s Give It Up For Good campaign, which spotlights the good work going on in our communities. Of the stories submitted, three Champions For Good will be selected and be nationally recognized for their positive impact. Get details here.

IFF has partnered with Goldman Sachs' 10,000 Small Businesses in the development of its Business Education Program for growing nonprofits. The initiative was developed to support organizations in the Chicago area that have more than two employees, budgets between $250,000 and $5 million, and are planning to grow. The program consists of business education and professional development, capital to expand, and a support network. Applications are due Mon., Aug. 5; email Nicole Schmied at

The Lincoln Financial Group is accepting applications for its Legacy Award, a $50,000 award to a nonprofit that exemplifies President Abraham Lincoln’s legacy of freedom, opportunity, and equality; and whose programs impact increased high school graduation rates and college preparedness. The application period is open until Sept. 13. Get more information and the application form here.

Grants Awarded

Chicago Cubs Charities launched two new direct community programming initiatives last month.  Cubs Scholars is a college scholarship program awarded to five high school juniors that also integrates college and career counseling and mentorship.  Read more here. Cubs on the Move Fitness Trolley introduces elementary-aged children in four low-to-moderate-income communities to health and fitness concepts. 

Chicago Foundation for Women has awarded $461,365 in grants to 43 programs in the Chicago area. The grants focus on freedom from violence, health access, and awareness. Also, the organization’s five Leadership Councils -- African American; Asian American; Latina; Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning; and Young Women's -- raised money for their own grantmaking funds, which were then granted to support programs serving women and girls in diverse communities. Read more here.

The Chicagoland Workforce Funder Alliance will award its first industry-workforce partnership grant to the newly-aligned Illinois Manufacturing Excellence Center and ManufacturingWorks. The grant provides $300,000 - $400,000 annually for two to three years, beginning this Fall. The Funder Alliance is a collaborative of 11 workforce development funders working with employers and other workforce stakeholders to increase employment and earnings for under-prepared workers in the Chicago region. Read more here.

Evanston Community Foundation received a $100,000 grant from Ascend at the Aspen Institute to begin a two-generation education initiative for low-income parents and their young children. The initiative draws upon research from Northwestern University and from the foundation’s on-going kindergarten-to-workforce-readiness initiative. Read more here.

Also at Evanston Community Foundation, two Community Catalyst grants of $2,500 each were made to the Market for All Seasons project and to Evanston Dance Ensemble's On Site: Putting Dance on the Map series. Read more here.

The Robert R. McCormick Foundation together with the Chicago Tribune have granted $900,000 in funding through Chicago Tribune Charities, a McCormick Foundation Fund, to 16 local nonprofits helping individuals overcome the barriers to unemployment and more towards greater self-sufficiency. Read the press release here.

Donors Forum Staff News

Andreason Brown has been promoted to Chief Financial Officer, having joined Donors Forum as Vice President, Finance and Administration in September 2010.  He will continue to oversee the finance and administration areas at Donors Forum, including accounting, facilities, human resources, and IT infrastructure. "Andreason's change in title not only reflects his comprehensive oversight of our financial and administrative functions," said President and CEO Valerie S. Lies. "It also recognizes the valuable contributions he continues to make around Donors Forum's long-term financial stability and business model planning." Andreason serves on the boards of the African American Legacy Fund at The Chicago Community Trust, Chicago Dance Crash, and LINKS; he will complete a Masters Degree in Nonprofit Management at DePaul University this Fall.

Karin Victoria has joined Donors Forum as Director of Development, after serving in an interim capacity for the past two months. Karin will oversee Donors Forum's development functions, working with key staff and leadership to raise funds in support of the new strategic plan, Engaging for Impact. Her previous positions include serving as a director at The Art Institute of Chicago for 15 years, serving in various capacities overseeing foundation, government, and corporate relations. Karin brings to Donors Forum many years of experience with regional and national grantmakers, and deep knowledge about the philanthropic landscape and nonprofits. 

Read the press release here.

Donors Forum in the Media


Vice President of Nonprofit Services Laura Zumdahl was a panelist for "How to Talk to Donors About Expenses," an online discussion hosted by The Chronicle of Philanthropy on July 30. She was joined by Jacob Harold, President of GuideStar, who was also a panelist. Read the transcript of the discussion here.

Laura also provided commentary for "Making Ends Meet: Fiscal Challenges at Local Nonprofit," which appeared July 5 in The Gate, a newspaper with distribution in the Bridgeport/Back of the Yards neighborhood.

A blog post on the naming of Donald J. Cooke as Chair of the FY14 Donors Forum Board of Directors was published on the Crain’s Chicago Business website. Read the blog post here.

Online registration is now open for Donors Forum’s 2013-2014 capacity-building workshops! We offer advanced as well as introductory courses on proposal writing, individual giving, and evaluation held throughout the year. Back by popular demand is Nonprofits 101, which provides an introduction to nonprofits and working in the sector – perfect for new staff. Brochures were mailed in mid-July; you can download a copy of the brochure here. Or, view the workshops and register online here. Those belonging to Donors Forum receive substantial discounts.

If you are new at your organization, if your organization is a new Forum Partner, or if you’d simply like to get re-connected to Donors Forum, register for the free Forum Partner Coffee Connection on Tues., 8/6. You’ll meet and network with other Partners, get an orientation to your Partner benefits and resources, and meet the Donors Forum staff devoted to helping you. Register here.

You can listen to Dr. Cheryl Dorsey’s keynote address from our 6/21 Annual Luncheon here, on Chicago Amplified, WBEZ radio’s online archive of informative programming in the Chicago area. Dr. Dorsey, President of Echoing Green, spoke about how all of us can use principles of social entrepreneurship to create innovative solutions to social problems. And, you can view photos from the Luncheon here.

Burning question:  If you had to choose one way in which your Donors Forum membership has made a difference -- either to you personally or to your organization -- what would it be? Please email your answer to Marilou Jones; we may use it in our upcoming communications.

Plan ahead; find the complete list of upcoming events at this link.

Tues., 8/6: Forum Partner Coffee 

Tues., 8/6: Introduction to Prospect Research (Chicago)

Tues., 8/20: Introduction to Prospect Research (Chicago)

Thurs., 8/22:
[Proposal Writing 101]: The How Tos of Successful Grantwriting and Relationship Building

Wed., 8/28: Public Policy Exchange

Thurs., 8/8: Illinois Conference of Volunteer Administration (ICOVA)

Wed., Aug. 14: Intergenerational Summit on Why News Matters for All Generations; email

New Members
Healthy Smiles, Healthy Children, the foundation of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry

Renewing Members
Anna Paulina Foundation
Elizabeth F. Cheney Foundation
The Cherry Family Foundation
Northern Trust
Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors

New Forum Partners
Carolyn & Karen Spiritual Healing Home
Essentials First Foundation, NFP
Fitness Health & Wholeness
Joey's House

New Associate Members
Mollie Bunis, Strategic Philanthropy, Ltd.
Brian J. Guastella, McGladrey LLP

The Donors Forum Library (Chicago)

DeKalb County Nonprofit Partnership (DCNP) Philanthropy Center (DeKalb)

Lake County Philanthropy Center (Grayslake)

Northwest Suburban Philanthropy Center (Schaumburg)

The Philanthropy Center (Glen Ellyn)

South Metropolitan Philanthropy Center at Joliet Junior College (Joliet)

West Central Illinois Philanthropy Center (Quincy)

Click here to read past issues of Forumnotes.

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Tell us about comings, goings, promotions, and kudos; requests for proposals and grants received and awarded; job openings; address changes; and other news. If there is a web page that offers more information about the item (e.g., a press release, a complete job posting), please provide the URL. Send your information to editor Marilou Jones at
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