Since 1972, the Community Foundation of East Central Illinois has helped make philanthropic giving as effective as possible. Donors create permanent charitable funds, and the Community Foundation stewards those funds to help our area address its pressing needs. The organization administers grants to non-profits organizations that serve the Champaign, Piatt, Douglas, Moultrie, Coles, Edgar, Vermilion, Ford, and Iroquois counties. These grants are then used to support a wide range of services in the areas of arts and culture, community development, environmental affairs, education, and health. The organization is a leader and major catalyst for long-term philanthropic assistance to residents of east central Illinois.
A History Rooted in Crowdfunding
In 1972, Champaign attorney John Franklin worked with community leaders, including Forrest Colwell, Kyle Robeson, Helen Levin, Bobby Eisner, and Dick Burwash to launch the Community Foundation. Each founder contributed gifts, totaling $1,300. The founders’ vision was that "a public charitable foundation governed by a volunteer Board of Trustees - local residents widely representative of Champaign County - would provide effective philanthropy through stewardship of gifts large and small" (J. Dixon, personal communication, February 14, 2020) in perpetuity. Since then, the Community Foundation’s permanent assets have grown to nearly $30 million. Grants totaling more than $19 million have been given to more than 450 nonprofit organizations working to improve the quality of life for residents of east central Illinois. The staff at the Community Foundation meet with grant donors to determine the specifications of the funding. They also meet with the leaders and board members of local organizations to discuss leadership strategies and possible methods of collaboration.
In 2008, the Community Foundation formally announced the establishment of the Center for Nonprofit Excellence as part of its commitment to help nonprofit organizations and their boards be as effective as possible. By working directly with the organizations, the Community Foundation offers assistance in board training and development, strategic planning, effective working relationships between the board and the executive staff, mentoring, and access to resources available outside of east central Illinois.
By helping nonprofit organizations in this way, the Community Foundation helps assure its donors that “Best Practices” in the areas of board training and development, strategic planning, fund development, stewardship, succession planning, and other areas critical to success for nonprofits are being observed throughout the area, and ensures good stewardship of its donors’ gifts.
The Community Foundation also operates the Community Solutions Incubator, a program in which emerging and young nonprofit entrepreneurs can pilot their ideas and create supporting structures alongside other social innovators in a well-resourced co-working space, receiving hands-on mentorship and guidance from some of their area’s most successful community leaders in a variety of fields and disciplines.
Help Us Help Nonprofits
The Friends of the Community Foundation of East Central Illinois Campaign fund will help provide innovative programming to ensure the nonprofit organizations the Community Foundation supports with its donors’ gifts have adequate training and support to successfully achieve their missions, sustainably.