Fort Wayne, IN




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Community Foundation of Greater Ft. Wayne | Creating a Social Sector Ecosystem Strategy

Client Needs

At the core of any thriving community, are residents who feel connected to their community. The Community Foundation of Greater Ft. Wayne (CFGFW) is committed to advancing a stronger, healthier, more equitable community so that every one of their neighbors can experience greater well-being and quality of life. 

CFGFW’s Let’s Rise! Vision Plan reflects that commitment, outlining how CFGFW will address challenges and contribute to the community’s momentum in five key pillars. These pillars were developed by assessing wellbeing indices that create a vibrant community. They answer a single fundamental question: How are we all doing?

One of these five pillars is Connected Community. Within this pillar, their goal is to affect change by being an advocate for the underserved, instilling pride, and building relationships to create a sense of belonging. CFGFW believes that an effective nonprofit ecosystem contributes to a Connected Community, and set out to understand their social sector as a way to support the work of this pillar.

TCG’s work examined the current state of the social sector in the Greater Fort Wayne area and outlined opportunities to improve the social sector and create positive change.

In starting this work, TCG first had to understand the social sector ecosystem in Fort Wayne. The social sector is “the private domain for public good”. It includes nonprofits, funders, government entities, businesses, and individuals. All of these organizations and leaders come together to make social impact possible in a community.

TCG found the greater Fort Wayne area is home to nearly 2,000 nonprofit organizations, and has a nonprofit community that reflects national averages. TCG also found that community member awareness of the nonprofit services available varied, with over one-third of community members reporting little to no awareness of the nonprofit services available to them.

Our Solution

TCG went to work to gather feedback and input from key partners, organizations and residents in the Greater Fort Wayne community. We also reviewed national and state research on the social sectorTCG developed and launched two surveys. One was sent to nonprofit organizations to assess their understanding of the sector, barriers, and opportunities for improvement. The second was sent to individuals who have used nonprofits to assess their perceived understanding, access, and use of resources. TCG also completed individual interviews with local government leaders and philanthropic funders to understand their knowledge of the social sector, collaborative efforts underway, the effectiveness of the sector, and areas for improvement.

We received 189 responses from local nonprofits and 600 responses from individuals who use nonprofit services. TCG conducted nine interviews with individual donors, six interviews with policymakers/key stakeholders, and one focus group with seven grant makers to gather additional feedback.

TCG also collected publicly available data to understand the current social sector ecosystem in the Greater Fort Wayne area as well as national research on trends in the social sector.

TCG supported CFGFW in convening an Advisory Committee made up of individuals within the sector to support the Connected Community pillar and the research of the social sector.

Research TCG conducted to inform the plan included:

  • Survey responses from 189 nonprofits 
  • Survey responses from 600 individuals who live in the Greater Fort Wayne community 
  • Interviews with individual donors 
  • Interviews with local policymakers and government leaders
  • Focus group with grant makers

TCG summarized all of this research, feedback and data collected to understand the current state of the social sector in Greater Fort Wayne, identify areas of strength and areas to improve, and create a five-year strategic plan to strengthen the social sector. We sought feedback from the Advisory Committee and CFGFW staff to create the Collaborate for Change report.


  • Created surveys, focus groups and interview questionnaires to gather feedback and insights from nonprofit organizations, donors, policymakers, grant makers and residents.
  • Gathered public data and national research on the social sector.
  • Convened the Advisory Committee to solicit input and guidance
  • Created a new 5-year plan for supporting and improving the social sector ecosystem, with goals, strategies, and tactics to guide CFGFW’s work.
  • Wrote the Collaborate for Change Report.

“We are grateful for our partnership with Transform Consulting Group and everyone who contributed to the report. Thanks to the Collaborate for Change report, we have a roadmap of the work we need to do to ensure that the social sector ecosystem is deepening its impact and everyone in Allen County has the opportunity to succeed.”
Alison Gerardot

Chief Impact Officer at the Community Foundation of Greater Fort Wayne

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