Mobilizing Communities


Collective Impact

IN Community Foundations | Leading Collective Impact Efforts Across 25 Counties in 4 Months

Client Needs

We were honored to work with 25 counties across the state of Indiana as they took on the incredible challenge and opportunity to better understand and address the needs and aspirations of all the residents of their communities.

There has been a trend in philanthropy as more foundations are stepping into a “convener” role to tackle big social issues. Community foundations are natural conveners. They oversee charitable funds and manage them for the best use for their community. But what happens when a community foundation is asked to take a step beyond one of their typical roles of funds management? 

Giving Indiana Funds for Tomorrow (GIFT) – an initiative of Lilly Endowment – is a series of statewide initiatives and programs that began in 1990 to help establish and strengthen community foundations in Indiana and build their capacity to support the needs of their local communities. 

When GIFT began, there were fewer than 12 community foundations in the state with assets totaling approximately $100 million. GIFT has helped community foundations build unrestricted endowments and fund special projects and has inspired others to give through challenge grants. GIFT also has encouraged community foundations to develop their leadership capacity so they can better understand and address the needs and aspirations of all the residents of their counties.

Community foundations that have regularly participated in GIFT have grown to approximately $3.7 billion as of the end of 2022.

In 2024, another $210 million was made available – Phase VIII (GIFT VIII). 

Twelve community foundations, representing 25 counties across Indiana, reached out to Transform Consulting Group (TCG) for assistance with the following:

  • Supporting the planning, research, data collection, writing, and submission of the GIFT VIII Phase 2 Implementation Grant and/or
  • Developing a strategic plan.

Our Solution

The initial subject areas of focus varied across the foundations and included:  

  • Early care and education
  • Parent education
  • Employment
  • Workforce development
  • Housing
  • Out-of-school time
  • Mental health
  • Substance use/abuse

Our approach was consistent. For each community, we followed our collective impact process, which aligns well with Lilly Endowment’s Community Leadership Framework for Community Foundations. 

Collective impact brings together cross-sector partners–business, government, and nonprofits–to work toward a common agenda of solving a specific social problem. Our 4-step process includes: 

    1. Getting the Partners in the RoomFormed Advisory Committees in each county or region to guide our work
    2. Help People Understand the Landscape – Conducted stakeholder with parents, employers, school leaders, government officials, the public and other community officials through surveys, focus groups and individual interviews; Gathered publicly available data to better understand the landscape and community; Benchmarked aspirational models and peer communities to inspire new solutions
    3. Co-Create Solutions – Facilitated strategy planning sessions to agree on a proposed roadmap and solution
    4. Redesign the System – Drafted concept plan to apply for grant funding to support the solution
  1. Read more here. 


  • Created and sent 35 surveys to a variety of individuals representing families, employers, government, early care and education providers, and community partners, resulting in feedback from over 4,000 participants
  • Pulled over 100 community data indicators to understand the communities
  • Conducted 47 interviews with key partners 
  • Created 22 early care and education county fact sheets to show key data related to access, affordability, and workforce for community leaders
  • Completed benchmark research of 60 aspirational models and peer communities to serve as examples and inspiration for our concept plans
  • Wrote 10 community needs assessment reports
  • Facilitated 42 planning and strategy sessions
  • Wrote 7 full concept papers and supported 4 others
  • Asked for more than $57M in grant funding
  • Logged nearly 5,500 miles across the state of Indiana for in-person meetings
  • Utilized 12 Transformers – at various capacities – logging nearly 3,000 hours, to accomplish all of the above in 4 months!

“I hope the others will grant me grace as I gush. After reading through the document, for the first time in my time here, it feels like someone understands how difficult it is to provide comprehensive services in a very rural, low-income community. I give you my enthusiastic support. It is my plan to share this with my board at our meeting on Saturday morning. They will be impressed.”
Christine Harbeson

Executive Director, Community Foundation of Crawford County

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