Philanthropist discusses fostering collaboration at Northwestern


Nathan Richards/Daily Senior Staffer

Terry Mazany, president and CEO of The Chicago Community Trust, speaks to an audience about funding and maintaining a philanthropic organization. He emphasized that a high level of collaboration is necessary to run such groups successfully.

David Lee, Reporter

The Northwestern Community Development Corps hosted a discussion regarding collaboration between student organizations at NU on Wednesday night.

The event, held in Norris, featured Terry Mazany, president and CEO of The Chicago Community Trust, who provided his opinions on funding and maintaining philanthropic organizations.

“There is much less slack in the world that you’re living in now,” Mazany said. “There is a heightened sense of responsibility, vigilance, resourcefulness, how you prioritize what’s important and the power of your networks.”

Mazany said he wanted to portray the clear sentiment that the optimal way to run philanthropic organizations involves a high level of collaboration. Societal problems like income disparity, racial inequality and global warming have put pressure on philanthropies to alter their infrastructures to adapt to these issues.

“If you can do it on your own, it probably is not worth doing, given the enormity of the challenges that we face,” he told The Daily.

He said The Chicago Community Trust is a public organization that relies on collaborative philanthropy, gathering a large number of donations to do charity work, as opposed to private organizations that receive a large contribution from a single benefactor. One of the trust’s most notable donors is John G. Searle, the namesake of several NU buildings.

After Mazany finished his presentation, the floor was opened for questions. The audience consisted largely of leaders for on-campus philanthropic organizations. Weinberg sophomore Carol Feng said she saw the need for increased communication between groups, which many other attendees echoed.

“There are so many groups with the same end goal, but there is no collaboration between groups,” she said. “It’s one of the reasons why we’re all here today — to figure out how we can bring people together and make them see the need in working together.”

Mazany said NU currently has a very business-oriented mindset and needs to be organizationally committed to philanthropy.

“Then they’ve got a stake in it as part of the institution’s mission,” he said. “How could Northwestern University students be a force for good in the city, the region, the world? What would that look like?”

Weinberg freshman Jessica Lewis said she will approach collaboration differently as a result of the event.

“There are so many groups here with so many missions,” she said. “A lot of them, you can tell, have a lot of overlapping goals. We want to know how we can use that to create more effective change.”

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