Nonprofits and Foundations Prepare for Illinois State Budget Fallout

Wednesday, February 18, 2021

Donors Forum Calls Rauner Budget a Roadmap to Make Illinois Less Compassionate and Competitive

Donors Forum, the state association for over 1,000 philanthropic and nonprofit organizations, is preparing nonprofit and foundation members for a tough budget session this year, in response to Gov. Bruce Rauner’s newly announced budget.

“This is the reality: our sector does what government no longer can -- we shelter, feed, clothe, educate and keep our communities healthy," said Eric Weinheimer, President and CEO of Donors Forum. “If our state is going to answer the Governor’s call to transform itself into a more compassionate and competitive place, we can’t do it by undermining the fourth largest industry in the state that employs over a half million people, builds human and cultural capital, and protects our air, land, and water.”

The charitable sector in Illinois is comprised of over 523,000 employees across the state and accounts for nearly $20 billion in wages. These employees are a large portion of key workforce sectors such as hospitals, colleges, as well as cultural institutions and other social impact organizations. In their 2014 report on foundation giving, Donors Forum compared the $2.8 billion in FY12 grantmaking from the foundation community to the $29 billion in general revenue generated by the state in the same fiscal year.

“Although there are tough decisions to be made this year," said Weinheimer. “Our new governor must understand that our industry has borne the brunt of tough budget decisions since 2009. Foundations cannot close this gap and our nonprofit members cannot help people without a rational plan that takes into account revenue.”

Illinois’ budget remains the worst in the nation and the most stubborn to address. Donors Forum is preparing to equip its members for the impact of a loss of $4 billion in general revenue funds, including draconian cuts to programs serving families; orphans; hemophiliacs; youth in afterschool programs and foster care; students in college; people with addictions and disabilities; as well as bulwark cultural institutions. Gov. Rauner’s plan also fails to address a growing and persistent backlog of unpaid bills, particularly to nonprofit organizations -- some of which have been floating program costs for the state for the past several months. Some of these programs, like childcare assistance, have been notified by the state that those areas of the budget have run out of money.

Next month Donors Forum will be releasing groundbreaking Social Return on Investment data commissioned from the Social IMPACT Research Center for three vital fields in the nonprofit sector: Youth Development, Arts/Culture, and the Environment -- areas which are also on the chopping block in Gov. Rauner’s plan.

“We want to be able to equip our members and legislative champions in Springfield with tools to make the case that the good things that the people of Illinois support -- healthy families, vibrant museums and theaters, safe communities, and a strong economic base -- are possible through the work of our sector,” said Donald Cooke, Donors Forum Board Chair and Senior Vice President, Philanthropy at Robert R. McCormick Foundation. “You can’t cut the work philanthropy and nonprofits do together in Illinois and expect the state to thrive.”

To see Donors Forum’s nonprofit sector and workforce data, visit

-- Delia Coleman, Director, Strategic Initiatives