A network of peers is a valuable commodity

In any line of work, it is helpful to have a network of peers to learn from and bounce ideas off of. There are associations, alliances and councils for just about every career out there. Foundations are no different. At the national level, organizations such as the Council on Foundations exist to offer support to foundations both private and community big and small.

On a smaller scale, the Community Foundation of Grundy County is a member of The Alliance of Illinois Community Foundations. AICF is a professional network established in 2005 with the purpose of

• strengthening and promoting philanthropy in the state of Illinois,

• educating the public on the benefits and purpose of community foundations,

• helping members promote effective philanthropic grant making, and

• providing a forum for the exchange of information on philanthropic programs and issues affecting the charitable nonprofits in Illinois.

While not all community foundations in Illinois are involved with the AICF, more than 25 that are. Those community foundations involved serve a vast majority of Illinois. AICF offers members topic-specific educational calls each month, a group email list that is the “easy button” for reaching peers across the state to ask questions and share information, shared marketing opportunities, and in-person conferences.

AICF typically meets each March, August and November for two days. Meetings vary in location. Because of COVID-19, AICF was forced to host meetings virtually. After 18 months of virtual meetings, conference calls and email correspondence, staff from community foundations around the state were finally able to come together face to face Aug. 5 and 6 in Champaign.

Each meeting allows for a presentation on a specific topic, networking time, an AICF meeting and updates from various ad hoc or standing committees. Last month, we were fortunate to have Bryan Clontz, president and founder of Charitable Solutions LLC, present to the membership. Bryan offers extensive knowledge in the areas of planned giving and major gifts. Bryan is a wealth of knowledge; his presentations never disappoint.

We are hopeful our November meeting also will take place in person. If you would like more information on the AICF, go to its website at https://allianceilcf.org/.

• Devan Gagliardo is program director for Community Foundation of Grundy County.