building the future

The Foundation is truly excited to announce a new major gifts matching challenge and coaching program, Building the Future, a two year program offers a major gift challenge up to $25,000, along with six training sessions and 18 hours of individual coaching with an experienced development consultant.

Applications were invited from targeted organizations in fall 2017, and a cohort of nonprofits has been chosen for Building the Future. Each nonprofit will announce their matching major gift challenge sometime in 2018.

the program

Building the Future is a two-year program combining a major gifts challenge with a training and coaching program. Up to six organizations will be selected to participate. Established by an anonymous donor-advised fund, the Foundation works with the donor's selected organizations to determine their likely readiness to participat in the program. The program offers:

  • Six monthly or bimonthly two hour major gift training sessions during the first year.
  • Bimonthly cohort group meetings after the conclusion of formal training for the remainder of the two year program period.
  • Twelve (12) 1½ hour long consulting sessions over the two years of the program with Marc Hilton, a seasoned nonprofit consultant and coach.
  • A major gift challenge over a one year period of either (a) $10,000 for 10 new or increased gifts of $1,000 or (b) $25,000 for 10 new or increased gifts of $2,500. The amount will be determined through an assessment of the applicant’s fundraising capacity.

Selected organizations must commit three individuals to participate in the training and coaching program, including at least one staff and one board member.


Since 2011, an anonymous donor has funded ECF’s Partners for the Future (PFF), a major gifts matching grants program. As of mid-2017, ECF has worked with six Evanston organizations, matching up to $100,000 for gifts of $5,000 to $10,000. For these organizations, the impact has been significant beyond the money raised for the challenge; the PFF efforts have transformed their organizational culture to better support major gift capacity and build their sustainability.

While PFF has been successful, both ECF staff and our donor have recognized that for some Evanston organizations, a smaller challenge would be more appropriate, given their current fundraising capacity. Additionally, ECF piloted a fundraising service grant program in 2016 and learned that organizations working on increasing their fundraising capacity benefited from both individual coaching and a learning cohort. Therefore, through the continued generosity of our donor, ECF is launching this new opportunity.