Donors Forum 2015 Annual Report

Who are we?

Founded in 1974, Donors Forum is unique for being the only regional association in the U.S. that represents grantmakers, nonprofits, and their advisors, as well as allies of the sector. 

Currently, our 850 Nonprofit Members work in over 26 different issue areas across the state. Our 190 Grantmaking Members include private and independent foundations, public charities, corporations, and other types of funders (donor-advised funds, charitable trusts, and individual philanthropists). Our 60 Advisor Members include consultants and advisors (such as attorneys, accountants, and wealth advisors) to grantmakers and nonprofits. We are also actively engaging social entrepreneurs, impact investors, and B-Corps in our work to help expand our Membership and spur innovation in the sector.

Our mission is to build a vibrant social impact sector for all the people of Illinois.

When Eric Weinheimer took the helm as President and CEO of Donors Forum on 7/1/2014, he promised, "Donors Forum is starting a movement, working with all our Members and engaging other social purpose organizations to build healthier, safer, and richer communities in Illinois. As we create this movement, we promise to be clear about our work, challenging and provocative, informative, inspiring – and fun. We are eager to get moving, and create a world of possibility and opportunity for all those in Illinois!"


OUR movement is gaining momentum EVERY DAY!

Here is what we achieved in FY2015:

attracting investment to the sector

  • Helped 500 Illinois nonprofits raise $3.7 million from 5,000 new individual donors on 12/2/14 through #ILGive, the Illinois campaign for #Giving Tuesday.
  • Established Donors Forum's first-ever position on the state budget, and organized Member support for it.
  • Lobbied to protect charitable tax incentives.
  • Created a Social Innovation Roundtable to promote impact investing and social enterprise.

developing top talent

  • Provided over 50 skill-building workshops for nonprofits to build their capacity in evaluation, proposal writing, individual giving, prospect research, and more.
  • Identified goals and strategic direction to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion in philanthropy.
  • Held a Grantmakers Institute to provide professional development for both new and experienced funders.
  • Partnered with the Chicago Police Department, ComEd, Exelon, North Shore Peoples Gas, and other organizations to provide technical and skill-building workshops to their grantees and the communities they serve.
  • Provided educational programming and information resources to 350 nonprofit professionals in Central Illinois through GoodWORKSConnect.

improving systems and policies

  • Led a collaboration to work with the Governor’s Office and legislative leaders to pass the landmark Grants Accountability and Transparency Act (GATA), which will significantly improve state grant-funding systems.
  • Partnered with Verified Volunteers to offer a discounted, streamlined background check system available to our Members.
  • Developed a comprehensive action plan to implement Donors Forum's Real Costs initiative, and continued to serve as a national model for this work.
  • Established a Nonprofit Caucus in the Illinois legislature to improve laws and legislation that impact our sector, and to educate lawmakers on the importance of the work nonprofits do.
  • Released reports illustrating the statewide social return on investments in the arts, environmental, and youth development nonprofit fields.

increasing the organizational capacity of our members

  • Organized or supported over 100 programs for 22 Member Networks focused on specific issues.
  • Supported the emergence of three collective-action Member groups.
  • Launched four EBSCO databases with access to sector-relevant publications, research, and information, available to Members from anywhere with WiFi.
  • Created a series of online LibGuides, providing detailed resources and links on topics including fundraising, prospect research, the state budget, and more.

The Movement in Action