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Donors Forum at a Glance


Donors Forum leverages the collective leadership, expertise, and influence of philanthropy and nonprofits to improve lives and strengthen communities in Illinois.


Donors Forum is the hub of Illinois’ vibrant and diverse philanthropic and nonprofit community—and the only statewide association serving funders and nonprofits of all kinds, as well as their advisors.

  • More than 1,100 organizations and individuals formally belong to Donors Forum. At last count, our community included:
    • 187 funders – foundations, corporations, social venture funders, and other donors;
    • 841 nonprofits, schools, groups, places of worship, other service providers, and consultants to nonprofits;and
    • 33 professional advisors to funders and donors.
  • In addition to the organizations and individuals that have joined Donors Forum, many thousands more attend our programs and use our resources (some of which are free), and benefit from our leadership on public policy.


Donors Forum is a catalyzing leader and advocate for philanthropy and nonprofits in Illinois, protecting and promoting their work and missions.

  • Through government relations, advocacy, and other public policy activities, our community identifies and acts upon issues—at the local, state, and federal levels—that are critical to the ability of philanthropy and nonprofits to fulfill their missions.
  • We also communicate—proactively and reactively—the value, impact, and concerns of philanthropy and nonprofits to the media, to the general public, and to government, business, and other leaders.


Donors Forum provides unique, high-quality programs, research, and resources that strengthen the effectiveness of philanthropy and nonprofits. 

  • Through networking events, educational programs, customized training, and shared interest groups, philanthropic and nonprofit leaders and practitioners in Illinois connect and collaborate with each other and with national thought leaders, while discovering and sharing trends, critical issues, and best practices.
  • Donors Forum also conducts and disseminates research on philanthropy and nonprofits in Illinois, and we create and disseminate publications, newsletters, and web-based
  • Through the free Donors Forum Library in Chicago and six Philanthropy Centers around the state, leaders and practitioners access prospect databases, receive custom reference services, and use our collection of philanthropy—and nonprofit-related books—the largest such collection in the Midwest and the second largest in the U.S.


Donors Forum was founded in 1974 as Donors Forum of Chicago. Long recognized as the go-to source for philanthropy and nonprofits in the metropolitan area, we dropped “of Chicago” from our name in 2007 as we broadened our reach to serve the entire state of Illinois. 


Donors Forum’s board is comprised of 20 leaders in Illinois’ philanthropic and nonprofit community. 


Valerie S. Lies, a nationally recognized leader in philanthropy and nonprofits, is President and CEO of Donors Forum. Our full-time staff of 18 includes senior leaders with extensive experience in their fields.