Collective Giving in Chicago: Six Identity Funds that Amplify Impact

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From giving circles to identity-focused funds, collective giving is on the rise.

Collective giving is a philanthropic model in which donors pool resources, then decide together how to distribute funds. According to the Collective Giving Research Group, participation in community philanthropy tripled between 2007 and 2017, awarding a total of $1.29 billion to community organizations across the U.S.

Here in Chicago, collective giving was on the agenda at the June meeting of the Trust’s Professional Advisory Committee (PAC) and Young Professional Advisory Committee (YPAC)—an advisory group of lawyers, financial advisors, investment managers, accountants, trust officers and other professionals from leading Chicago financial institutions.

Richard A. Lang, a partner at McDermott Will & Emery who chairs the Professional Advisory Committee, opened the event and introduced a panel of philanthropic advisors from The Chicago Community Trust. These advisors partner with the Trust’s identity funds—six collective giving groups serving the Chicago region—helping them fully leverage the Trust’s expertise and maximize their charitable impact. Here’s an inside look:


African American Legacy logo

African American Legacy

Led by African-American civic and community leaders, this philanthropic and educational initiative works to improve the quality of life among African Americans throughout metropolitan Chicago. AAL engages the power of collective giving to support grassroots and nonprofit organizations working on the ground to solve community problems. With a permanent endowment as its foundation, AAL has granted nearly $1.8 million to more than 50 organizations with innovative ideas for impact.

From town hall meetings and tours that provide a first-person perspective on the issues facing Black neighborhoods, to the first-ever Reaching Forward, Giving Back Awards honoring notable African-American philanthropists, AAL creates substantive programming for its members and provides a forum for important conversations. More about African American Legacy


Asian Giving Circle logo

Asian Giving Circle

AGC was created in 2002 to build support for nonprofit organizations addressing the challenges faced by the region’s Asian communities, which include more than 30 ethnic groups speaking hundreds of languages and dialects. AGC brings together professionals throughout Chicago to pool their financial contributions, for a greater impact on issues of common concern within their communities. AGC has contributed more than $200,000 to nonprofit organizations serving Asian-American residents of metropolitan Chicago.

Asian Giving Circle enables people at every level of wealth to get involved, providing them with an in-depth look at the pressing challenges and emerging solutions within this diverse and vibrant community.
More about Asian Giving Circle


Disabilities Fund logo

Disabilities Fund

The Disabilities Fund of The Chicago Community Trust promotes the development of programs, policy and public action that expands the empowerment, equal opportunity, inclusion and participation of diverse persons with disabilities in the Chicago region. The Fund’s advisory committee members partner with and advise The Chicago Community Trust about actionable solutions in the areas of employment, education, community inclusion and technology.

The Disabilities Fund’s Inform and Act briefing series helps Chicagoans stay informed about what disability looks like in our region, and how it intersects with issues from employment to opportunities for youth. More about the Disabilities Fund

LGBT Community Fund logo

LGBT Community Fund

The LGBT Community Fund unites civic leaders in a commitment to addressing a broad range of needs within the LGBTQ+ community, through strategic support to nonprofit organizations. Through an operating grant from The Elizabeth Morse Charitable Trust and funding support from The Chicago Community Trust, The LGBT Community Fund serves as a tool to educate the region about LGBT issues and promote effective philanthropy to achieve strategic change. The fund works toward the vision of a region where Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender residents live responsibly in harmony with all communities, enjoying the same freedoms and quality of life, and with the same opportunity to make the region a better and safer place for all to live.

LGBT Community Fund is also a wonderful way for people to make sure the support they provide tocontinue in perpetuity. Organizations may merge or dissolve; but by naming the Fund in their estate, donors will be assured that they will always support the leading organizations providing essential services within the LGBTQ+ community. More about the LGBT Community Fund

Nuestro Futuro logo

Nuestro Futuro

This identity fund builds and supports Latino philanthropy throughout the Chicago region. Nuestro Futuro—Spanish for “Our Future”—aims to involve more Latinx individuals in philanthropy, and to support the organizations and programs improving the quality of life for members of the community. The largest Latinx fund in the United States, Nuestro Futuro has granted more than $2 million to support capacity building and community-based early care and educational programs that help provide children with a foundation for academic excellence.

Most recently, Nuestro Futuro merged with the Latino Giving Circle, providing a broader base of support and a diverse range of perspectives. In response to current need, they have also adopted immigration services as a new focus of their grant making. More about Nuestro Futuro

Young Leaders Fund logo

Young Leaders Fund

YLF provides young professionals between 22 and 45 years old with hands-on experience in the grant making process. With support from the Trust, members research innovative grassroots organizations, make site visits, review financial documents, interview staff and evaluate grant requests. Through this immersion, members become more effective volunteers and more knowledgeable civic leaders. YLF focuses its grants on arts and culture, community and economic development and child development and education. To date they have awarded more than $800,000 to 150 emerging, entrepreneurial organizations in metropolitan Chicago, often providing the resources to elevate their programs to a new level of service.

YLF provides the perfect set of tools for families with private foundations or donor advised funds to help prepare their next generation. More about the Young Leaders Fund


As a philanthropic partner, we provide individuals and families with pathways to achieve their personal philanthropic impact. Whether your clients are looking to connect and collaborate with others who share their heritage, or to leverage their dollars for greater grant investments—we’re here to help them reach that goal.