A bevy of local dignitaries will be cast in a stage parody of the popular movie classic, It’s a Wonderful Life, at the annual benefit of the Evanston Community Foundation later this month.

The $150-a-plate dinner and entertainment will be held Saturday, Oct. 26, from 6:30 to 10 p.m. at the Levy Center, 300 Dodge Ave.

This year’s benefit is built around the theme of Evanston’s 150th birthday and will feature a competition among local bakeries to design a cake that is fit for the occasion.

Cameo roles in the movie parody, renamed “It’s a Wonderful (Life) Evanston,” will be performed by Congressman Jan Schakowsky, Evanston Township High School Superintendent Eric Witherspoon, and former Evanston mayor, Jay Lytle.

“This special anniversary edition of Celebrate!Evanston aims to bring many community members together for a fitting and fun celebration of Evanston’s first 150 years,” said Benefit Co-chair Julie Captain.

“Most importantly,” added Benefit Co-chair Lisa Altenbernd, “the celebration raises funds for Evanston Community Foundation’s grantmaking and programs to help take the community where it wants to go in the future.”

The foundation was started 26 years ago by the United Way of Evanston and currently has assets of $17.5 million. It builds endowments for current and future opportunities, fosters private philanthropy, focuses the impact of collective giving, finds solutions to community challenges, allocates grants, and provides leadership training. 

Charles Bartling

A resident of Evanston since 1975, Chuck Bartling holds a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and has extensive experience as a reporter and editor for daily newspapers, radio...

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  1. Nominations for Henry Potter?

    Which "local dignitary" is most suitable for the role of Henry Potter?

    BTW, none of the anonymous grumps on this site on eligible.

  2. ECF accomplishments and its $17.5 million in assets

    Very laudatory sounding efforts — building endowments, fostering private philanthropy, focusing the impact of collective giving, finding solutions to community challenges, allocating grants and provides leadership training. 

    In ECF's 26 years with assets of $17.5 million, it is clear that they can raise revenue and retain funds. But what are the solutions to community challenges that it has found?  What have they done that has focused the impact of collective giving?

    No criticism here. Just looking for information to understand this organization and the concrete contributions that it has made to the community in its more than a quarter-century.

    And I understand a rainy day fund but is $17.5 million the correct amount to be holding for an organization serving a community of our size? Wouldn't it be better to reduce the size of the rainy day "holdings" and put another $5 million or so toward those community challenges? Is the size of the rainy day fund an indication that there aren't enough problems on which to spend these funds (I seriously doubt that) or that this organization needs to be putting more of those funds out into the community more quickly? Someone with a background in the finances of such organizations — any comment?

    1. ECF accomplishments

      Rainy day fund?  Not sure what you mean by that?  

      Basically the way an organization like this works is by always increasing the core asset "principle" amount and investing that.  Then a specific percentage of those assets returns, never principle, are what is given out to fund their supported causes.  The larger they continue to grow the principle the larger the amount of money that can be given out every year.  Returns on 20 million is larger than returns on 17 million is larger than returns on 1 million.  Principle growth is key. 

      "Putting out" more funds should never happen if that means a reduction or lack of growth in any way of the principle assets.  That would be very short sighted and irresponsible fiscal mgmt by their board of directors.

      The legit question of a charitable organization is what % of returns are distributed and what is the adminstrative cost structure underlying the organziation.   

      I'm not sure what their percentage of returns are given out every year or what their internal administrative cost structure is but I'm pretty sure they run a responsible and cost effective organization and I have seen them fund a lot of things here in Evanston. 

      There is always need and they could spend all their assets tomorrow, but I think this local community charity is structured with a desire to do good work over a very long period of time.



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