Million Dollar Visioning


Last year we introduced you to Tracy Gary and her book “Inspired Philanthropy.”  Tracy’s message (which we’ve adopted) is that it’s okay to be thoughtful and strategic with your charitable giving.


Charitable giving can be joyful and exciting when it supports causes and organizations that you care about.  But so many of us are wrapped up in thinking about what we SHOULD support that we forget we can step back and think about what we WANT to support with our charitable dollars.  In many ways we are more reactive than proactive.  There is a need and place for both, but our point today is to ask you to spend some time on the proactive side.


Toward that end, Tracy has an exercise that we’d like to share with you.  You can use this exercise with your spouse, family, church, friends, business, or fellow not-for-profit organization.  The title is “Million Dollar Visioning:”


Here’s your chance to play Monopoly for the public good.  Instead of building hotels and hoping for Park Place and Boardwalk, use this exercise to reflect on your vision of how you would give the money away to help create the county you want.


  • Choose one community problem in Grundy County that you would like to help resolve.


  • Now imagine you suddenly have $1,000,000 to give away or invest in solving this problem, with no strings attached. What would you do?  Who would you convene or hire to work on this?  What local, state, and national partners would you call upon?


  • What outcomes would you hope for? In what time frame?


  • How would you be involved in order to maximize impact?


  • How would you share this vision with others?


  • What is holding you back from starting to tackle this issue, even without $1,000,000?


What do you think?  Did you enjoy it?  Was it hard to get your mind started?  Did you argue within your group or were you all in sync with your ideas?


If you had a hard time thinking about a community problem to solve, instead think about a “wish list.”  What do you wish we had in Grundy County?  What can you do to make it happen?  Would it take a million dollars or could you organize it for less?


We’ve been presenting this around the county and we get various reactions – some don’t want to touch it with a 10-foot pole and others jump right in with lots of ideas for solving problems and creating wish lists.  Again, there is no right or wrong answer – it’s to help you to be able to clearly identify what is important to you.


Next question: what to do next?  Although it is not a requirement, we invite you to share your ideas with the partners you identified above.  If you are shy or unsure how your ideas might be received, we’re happy to help.


The Community Foundation of Grundy County has realized our unique role: we are the county’s leading independent convener.  We excel at bringing various people and groups together to work through issues and develop solutions as a team.


All of the programs and projects that we coordinate were started in group discussions like this exercise.  We brought key partners to the table, collected information, identified gaps, approached partners, and put plans into action.


The amazing part is that many of the programs of the Community Foundation to address needs in Grundy County are low- or no-cost – it’s a matter of pulling the right partners together and pooling resources of “time, talent, and treasure.”


So back to the issues you identified in the exercise above: what do you wish could be accomplished in Grundy County?  Can we help you by either convening partners or by helping you establish a donor fund to tackle a specific project?


A key service of the Community Foundation is to help donors make their charitable dreams into reality.  Please send us your “Million Dollar Vision” and let’s see if we can make it a reality!




Julie Buck is the Executive Director of the Community Foundation of Grundy County