From the Hamilton County Community Foundation President

—by Tom Kilian
president of Hamilton County Community Foundation

Tom Kilian“Skate to where the puck is going, not where it has been.” We often think about this famous Wayne Gretzky quote at the foundation. Not because we’re planning on taking the ice anytime soon, but because we recognize the importance of proactively supporting the needs of our community, Hamilton County.

Last November our foundation launched a comprehensive strategic plan. While we’ll continue to support a regional mission and regional initiatives with our partners at CICF and The Indianapolis Foundation, our plan will specifically address the needs of our Hamilton County communities in the areas of mental health, family and youth empowerment, and inclusive economic growth.

Earlier this month at Celebration of Philanthropy, we honored our partners—both for-profit and not-for-profit—as well as our community pillar award recipients. These organizations and individuals are doing visionary work and solving pressing challenges. They are building opportunity and equity, and creating a brighter future for all of Hamilton County. Hamilton County Community Foundation cannot do this work alone. We’re aligning ourselves with others in the community who believe what we believe—that this should be a community where all individuals have an opportunity to reach their full potential, no matter their place, race or identity.

Innovation is what motivates us at the foundation.

So where is the puck going? And how is Hamilton County Community Foundation going to assist in driving proactive, innovative change? Innovation is what motivates us at the foundation. It is what drives us—and ultimately—what creates a more sustainable ecosystem for our community. Along with our community partners, we are bringing innovative solutions to residents throughout Hamilton County in three major ways:

  • First, we are launching new innovative financial platforms for current and future donors. We’ve developed several new tools to help make charitable giving easier, including eliminating the minimum dollar amount to open a donor-advised fund. We launched an online system that gives fund holders access to local funding opportunities, and we’re working with corporations to formalize their philanthropic and social responsibilities. Additionally, we are in the process of launching IMPACT Central Indiana, along with our partners at CICF and The Indianapolis Foundation, to offer a new line of business designed to facilitate philanthropic investments beyond traditional grant making to not-for-profits. IMPACT Central Indiana not only allows us to continue generating a positive social impact, but allows for a financial and economic impact as well. Think of it as recycling philanthropic dollars. Learn more about IMPACT Central Indiana.
  • Second, we’re making transformative investments in our community for long-term impact. Assisting to create capacity and sustainability in our non-profits is critical to their long-term success and a cornerstone to our partnerships. Specifically, we’re focusing on three key areas:
    • expanding our grant-making strategy to incorporate both competitive and proactive grants to not-for-profits
    • offering the opportunity for Hamilton County organizations to participate in the Indiana University Lilly School of Philanthropy’s Certificate for Fundraising Management at an almost 80% reduced rate
    • working with Hamilton County not-for-profits to diversify their revenue streams through the creation of social enterprises
  • The third way is that we’re creating an inclusive and collaborative not-for-profit innovation center in Hamilton County. Imagine a shared physical space, designed specifically to promote community action while developing and incubating new ideas for inclusive economic prosperity. This is the future of leading and convening in Hamilton County. We believe that a not-for-profit innovation center will allow organizations, civic groups and business leaders to come together and breakdown silos. Outcomes would include cross-sector collaboration, economic benefits, operational efficiencies, and implementation of key community leadership initiatives.

Over the last 28 years, Hamilton County Community Foundation has continued to grow and innovate with partners throughout our county. The work of Hamilton County Community Foundation is only possible with the time, talent, and treasure of our generous partners.

More importantly, these partners helped create and sustain the unrestricted Endowment for Hamilton County, which enables us to make impactful grants in the community and to lead with action when bold ideas are on the table. It allows us to continue to be innovative and forward-thinking.

The unrestricted Endowment for Hamilton County was created in 1991. It was formed from the assets of Carmel-Clay Community Foundation and Hamilton County Parks Foundation, as well as an initial seed gift from Lilly Endowment, with a goal of giving people an opportunity to be philanthropic during and after their lifetime. To date, the unrestricted Endowment for Hamilton County has invested more than $5.8 million back into the community.

To celebrate the ongoing success of the power of endowments throughout our state, the Lilly Endowment has offered a generous opportunity. Lilly Endowment is providing a 2:1 match for every dollar donated to the unrestricted Endowment for Hamilton County through Dec. 31, 2020. That means every dollar has triple the impact…$1 is worth $3, $100 is worth $300, and $50,000 is worth $150,000. You get the idea.

Our goal is to raise $1 million, and Lilly Endowment will match with an additional $2 million. What’s the power in those big numbers? An additional $3 million in perpetuity into our unrestricted endowment will increase it by 50% and result in an extra $150,000 to be granted into the community every year. It enables us to continue to drive innovation and chase bold ideas. It’s a major opportunity for our county and our neighbors.

Please join me, the Hamilton County Community Foundation board of directors, and others throughout our communities in making a gift to the unrestricted Endowment for Hamilton County. Your gift—no matter the size—will assist the foundation in creating sustainable and innovative change throughout our communities. Make you gift here.

It has been an honor and a privilege serving Hamilton County throughout 2019. Should you have any questions about our initiatives or interest in making a gift to the unrestricted Endowment for Hamilton County, please reach out to me or any of our staff at or 317.843.2479.


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