A Publication of WTVP

The Community Foundation of Central Illinois (CFCI) is perhaps best known as a grant-making organization. Indeed, we are in the business of philanthropy, with a mission of “Connecting People Who Care with Causes That Matter,” and we are justifiably proud of our success in this regard. In the most recent fiscal year, CFCI granted nearly $6.5 million in charitable support to help positively impact the quality of life throughout central Illinois, and beyond.

However, the efficient distribution of charitable support is only part of the CFCI story. We continue to work studiously to implement the components of our most recent strategic plan, adopted in July 2010. One of the key strategic goals of that plan is to create, strengthen and diversify relationships. To accomplish this goal, we have looked closely at numerous opportunities to convene community partners, engage new stakeholders, and most especially, to promote the growth of philanthropy throughout our community. Among several exciting new programs currently in development as a result of this thoughtful study process, is the Corporate Citizenship Consortium—an initiative that shows great promise for our business community.

Modeled upon a similar initiative developed in the Silicon Valley area of California, CFCI initially assessed the viability of forming a local consortium by hosting two “Idea Exchanges.” At each exchange, representatives of local businesses met in a facilitated roundtable format to discuss the benefits of effective philanthropic contributions management and to share common concerns and best practices.

Feedback from participants at both exchange sessions clearly indicated a desire for the business community to engage in an ongoing dialogue on effective corporate citizenship. A key takeaway was that CFCI is uniquely positioned as a neutral entity that can take the lead in further developing a programmatic approach to corporate citizenship in this community.

Based on this feedback, CFCI has been working to further develop the mission, purpose and proposed activities of a local consortium. Aided by a planning committee consisting of members of the CFCI board of directors as well as local business and community leaders, we have made great progress and are getting close to an announcement in regards to the consortium’s formalization.

As we finalize our planning process, CFCI is on the lookout for local business owners and senior-level managers who believe their organizations would benefit from:

exposure to best practices in corporate and business giving using peer-to-peer forums and expert advice;

access to the tools needed to develop giving principles and funding criteria;

insight into how to give back to their communities and stakeholders in a thoughtful and purposeful way;

how to better measure the outcomes of their giving and the impact that the nonprofits they fund are making in our community;

and a better understanding of current fundraising campaigns and the emerging needs of our central Illinois communities.

All of us at CFCI believe we are on the right track in developing the Corporate Citizenship Consortium as a value-added opportunity for members of the central Illinois business community. Stay tuned for more news on this initiative in the near-future.iBi

Mark Roberts is the executive director and CEO of the Community Foundation of Central Illinois.