Your Passion is Our Purpose.

With 65 years of experience connecting donors with the causes they care about, we make giving easy. We want to help you think about the choices you make related to charitable giving and take your giving to the next level — to make your philanthropy as personal, meaningful and fulfilling as possible.

Giving to the Community Foundation of Northern Illinois (CFNIL)  is easy and doesn’t require great wealth. No matter how much you give, your philanthropic strategy will be meaningful when it is aligned with your values, life experiences, and interests. It is our honor to partner with donors from all walks of life to ensure resources are available to support the needs of the people of northern Illinois -- forever!

With endowed funds supporting a variety of causes, every gift plays a part in connecting people, resources, and causes to promote sustainable impact towards the betterment of the people of Northern Illinois. Make an impact today -- and forever! -- by donating to one of our established charitable funds.

The Community Foundation of Northern Illinois is in the business of permanent endowment. Our mission calls us to "attract, preserve, and grow an endowment for the current and future needs of the people of Northern Illinois", and our operations reflect this calling: over 90% of our funds are permanently endowed, and all newly established funds are also permanently endowed. This means that every gift is invested with the long game in mind; we're committed to being a stable and growing resource for community needs -- forever!

CFNIL is as much a steward of donors' charitable intent as we are a steward of donors' gifts. We are legally obligated and professionally committed to granting donors’ dollars in the most efficient, impactful, and cost-effective way possible while honoring their intentions in perpetuity. That's the power of perseverance.

Any donor, large or small, may establish an endowment at the Community Foundation of Northern Illinois. Donors identify their charitable goals, then our professional staff helps achieve them. The endowment can be named after the donor or someone they wish to honor or memorialize. The endowment may support causes, organizations, or students pursuing education. 

Learn more about creating your own endowment.

The Community Foundation of Northern Illinois is committed to honoring our donors’ philanthropic wishes.

CFNIL is ethically and legally obligated to complying with our donors’ intentions in perpetuity. Your passion is our purpose.

By starting an endowment at the Foundation, you will be partnering with an organization with more than six decades of experience working with donors. Our local staff knows the region, its nonprofit organizations, and its people. We can help you select the right type of endowment, discuss charitable projects and organizations to maximize the impact of your giving, and work with you or your professional counsel to accept large or complex gifts.

The Foundation’s staff is here to assist you. We encourage you to contact us with questions or comments. Feel free to schedule an appointment with our donor services staff.

The Community Foundation of Northern Illinois is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Donors may receive an immediate tax benefit for gifts made to the Foundation.

A gift to CFNIL is a gift that lasts forever. Whether you choose to make the gift of a lifetime during your lifetime, or to plan a bequest that will impact our region after your death, rest assured that stewardship of donors' charitable intent is our highest calling. 

When considering starting a fund with or making a bequest to CFNIL, we recommend that you:

Talk to your family

  • We believe that it is important that the people you care about and who care about you understand your legacy plans.
  • An endowment that you create at CFNIL may be the perfect vehicle for family and friends to contribute to the purposes that you support.
  • You can use your endowment as a way to engage your family in philanthropy.

Talk to your financial advisor

  • An endowment may offer you certain tax benefits. For example, a contribution to an endowment at CFNIL may be deducted up to 50% of adjusted gross income; whereas the deduction on contributions to a private foundation may be limited to 30%.
  • There is no upfront cost to you to create an endowment at CFNIL.
  • Because there are no upfront costs, more of your gift will be used for the good work you envision.

Talk to your legal counsel

  • When you create an endowment, you are entering into a formal agreement with CFNIL.
  • In making a legacy gift, you can simply ask your attorney to designate CFNIL as a tax-exempt beneficiary, directing the gift to your endowed fund.
  • CFNIL is bound by both the terms of the endowment agreement and by law to honor your charitable intentions in perpetuity.

Talk to us

  • We are happy to work with you or your advisors to establish your endowment.
  • We can work with you individually or together with you and your advisors.
  • You can ask your advisors to work with us directly on your behalf.
  • To learn more, call CFNIL President Dan Ross at 779-210-8201 or dross@cfnil.org


The Community Foundation of Northern Illinois (CFNIL) was founded in 1953 and seeks to "inspire endowment and promote philanthropy for the current and future needs of the people of Northern Illinois.”

CFNIL is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and contributions to CFNIL are tax deductible to the full extent allowable by law. CFNIL is governed by a volunteer Board of Trustees who are citizens of Boone, Ogle, Stephenson, and Winnebago Counties.

CFNIL provides stewardship for over 400 tax-exempt endowed funds and assets totaling over $125 million, including dozens of funds it administers on behalf of other nonprofit organizations in the region.

This year, CFNIL will distribute more than $4 million in grants and scholarships.


Each donor establishes the purpose of his or her endowment. This purpose is documented in a formal endowment agreement. CFNIL honors donor intentions in perpetuity.


CFNIL complies with all the applicable provisions of:

  • The Internal Revenue Code and regulations issued pursuant thereto;
  • The Illinois Charitable Trust Act;
  • The Illinois Not for Profit Corporation Act;
  • The Illinois Trust and Trustees Act, relating to the funds held by CFNIL as a trustee; and
  • The Uniform Prudent Management of Institutional Funds Act, relating to CFNIL’s administration of institutional funds.


CFNIL combines individual endowments for investment and management in order to reduce the administrative cost to individual endowments. At the same time, each endowment is kept separate for accounting purposes.

In order to obtain high-quality, objective advice, CFNIL uses an independent investment consulting firm, Marquette Associates, experienced in serving institutional clients. Marquette Associates receives no compensation from the investment agents it recommends to CFNIL.

As a qualified purchaser of investment securities, CFNIL invests without the cost of brokers or custodial services.

CFNIL’s approach to investing results in long-term growth of the endowed funds for the benefit of the people of Northern Illinois in perpetuity.