David Zivan 2016-02-18 13:52:24
DAVID ZIVAN EDITOR-IN-CHIEF email@example.com Next month, this magazine will mark 21 years of covering the social scene in Chicago. It’s a lucky number and, if I may say so, it’s quite an achievement. It is also a real privilege. Why do I put it that way? Well, the fact is, while we cover many events and openings whose main purpose is revelry or commerce (two things I am heartily in favor of, by the way), for the most part, our event coverage celebrates philanthropic endeavors. The variety of causes we as a citizenry gather to help is almost jaw-dropping: health, education, the arts— and the list goes on and on. Smart coverage of these things is in CS’ DNA, as an old boss of mine would put it, and I would go so far as to say that it’s in this town’s genome as well. Group philanthropic efforts are a defining characteristic of this city. That was a notion I had, anyway—and so I decided to check it out. The best expert I know is Lisa Dietlin, president and CEO of Lisa M. Dietlin and Associates, her nonprofit consulting firm. She made me feel smart. “Conversations here are not like they are in New York or L.A.—what business are you in, what project?” Dietlin told me. “People want to know what your philanthropy is. What do you care about, and what do you give to? And this isn’t just the dynasty families—it’s everyone.” Dietlin, an eloquent advocate for the transformational power nonprofits can wield, took the time to send over a recent report from the Chicago Community Trust. One set of numbers, from 2013, jumped out at me: Of the $10 billion in total philanthropic donations coming out of the Chicago area, 71 percent came from households—not corporations or foundations. When they considered only donations from Chicago that stayed in the region, that percentage jumped to 83 percent. In other words: We give back, personally and generously, right here at home. I saw a great example late this past spring at the big annual fundraiser for One Million Degrees (onemilliondegrees.org), its eighth annual Food & Wine Tasting. Our coverage of the evening starts off our Social Circles section—you know, the place, where for decades now, we’ve all looked to see if we are in there or know someone who is. It was a bash, full of energy and lively conversation and flowing drinks. But there could also be no mistaking the seriousness of purpose in everyone involved. The group promotes the rather unlikely, and startlingly important, cause of helping low-income young people attend community college. One million is an awful lot of diplomas, and they may never get there. But that night they raised $500,000. That’s a pretty good start.
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