26 June 2012

The Art of the Ask

Working in the non-for-profit-sector is fascinating and hard work. For the last two years, I've been riding the non-profit rollercoaster, so to speak, navigating my way through the interesting world of fundraising at one of Chicago's most treasured cultural institutions. End of fiscal year for many non-profits, including my own, is June 30, and naturally the buzz words for the week are "make goal"! With monetary goals in mind, I thought it might be fun to share some of my favorite local non-profits that I gladly support and urge you to as well. Remember kiddos, every gift counts, no matter the size!!

1) The Art Institute of Chicago - support
The Art Institute of Chicago via source

For obvious reasons, I have to make a fundraising plug for AIC. Not only do I work in fundraising here, but I understand just how crucial funds really are when we get down to the wire. If you haven't given, consider it! Every dollar matters to us!

2) WBEZ / NPR - support
This American Life via source

I listen to WBEZ every morning to hear the weather, the latest news, and to feel connected to the outside world before I leave my house. I have been tuning in to This American Life just about every Saturday since I can remember, and I know that producing high quality, well-researched, thoughtful content is incredibly costly. I am a proud member and supporter of WBEZ, now you should be too!

3) 826 Chicago - support
826 Chicago / The Boring Store via source

826 is a program founded by Chicago-native and author Dave Eggers, for the explicit purpose of encouraging reading and creative writing among the young students it supports. Not only do volunteers work amazing after school and tutoring programs with inner-city children from all over Chicago, but some of the students' writing is actually published!! A worthwhile cause with an awesome mission - how could you not love a place like this?

4) The Farnsworth House - support
The Farnsworth House via source 

Located about an hour outside of the city, in Plano, Illinois, this magical steel-frame house is a true gem of modern architecture. Mies van der Rohe conceptualized this one room weekend escape in 1949, and here it still stands, nestled into the wilderness of rural Illinois. But this house is at risk! Not only is it incredibly expensive and difficult to maintain, it sits along the Fox river, a river whose water level is rising! The house suffered a terrible flood in 2008, and is still in need of funds to be properly restored. Wouldn't it be a shame to see something so beautiful and marvelous fall into disrepair?

5) Preservation Chicago - support
Prentice Women's Hospital via source

Speaking of preserving historic architecture... Preservation Chicago is a non-profit created for just that purpose. Currently, one of the landmarks they are advocating for is Bertrand Goldberg's Prentice Women's Hospital, a cause near and dear to my heart since it's where I was born!! Check out some other buildings they are fighting to preserve!

6) Chicago Public Schools - support 
CPS students with President Barack Obama via source

As a product of the Chicago Public School system, the relative of a Chicago Public School teacher, and someone who follows local news - it's pretty obvious to me that adequate education is a primary need in this city. To give the right kind of education while supporting our teachers and schools takes funding. With an impending teacher's strike in the works for this coming August, all I can say is give, give give.

7) Chicago Public Library Foundation - support
Chicago Public Library's Blackstone Branch via source

Two words: FREE BOOKS! 'nuff said.

8) WTTW - support
WTTW via source

As a self-proclaimed fan girl of Downton Abbey and someone with a very limited cable package, I'm going to go out on a limb and say that even if I did have premium cable, I would still turn my eyes to WTTW for it's clean cut, engaging, superior, and consistent programming. WTTW, you are a gem of Chicago! Also... Chic-A-Go-Go.

9) Lincoln Park Zoo - support
Lincoln Park Zoo via source 

Lincoln Park Zoo is one of the oldest zoos, open to the public most days of the year, at the low cost of NOTHING. That's right, going to an amazing zoo, with gorgeous landscaping, enriching educational programming, and thoughtful early 20th century architectural design, is completely free. But it can only remain a free resource if everyone pitches in, am I right?

10) Chicago Park District - support
Grant Park, Chicago via source 

Chicago is known for its incredible amount of green space. I grew up playing in our parks, and to this day, I spend a lot of time in Millennium and Grant Park escaping the chaos of the city. Our parks are kept in incredible condition, with beautiful lush landscaping, and programming offered for members of many neighborhoods of the city. But to keep the city this green and this gorgeous takes hard work and plenty of funds. Give, get outside, and enjoy!


  1. i love this entry! last night on my drive back to IL, i was thinking about how i need to be more consistent in my charitable giving! great post to generate ideas, sandy!

    1. Thanks Lexie!! I feel really good about who I gave to this year: The American Red Cross for Japan, WBEZ, and Knox College (of course). I think it's good to consider where our hard earned money goes. I definitely take advantage of a handful of free resources in Chicago, and as a fundraiser, I know just how crucial a time it is (hello, recession). Thanks for your encouragement! And remember, we still have two days left to give in this fiscal year!! ;)

  2. Sandy, I think this is a really important post. Personally, I constantly struggle with all of the highly material things I "need". This post is a really good reminder about the resources around us that I, for one, often take for granted. It's hard sometimes for me to remember just how privileged I am. If I can go to Penelope's and not think twice about spending $100 on shoes, I can sure as hell afford to support any one of these great institutions. Great post!