Your Impact:  Philanthropy Gets Personal

Allison Temple Bacon ES'81


Where do you work or volunteer?

I co-founded Impact Grants Chicago. We fund $100,000 grants to the local Chicago non-profit community through women's collective giving.

What is it about the mission of the organization(s) that resonate(s) with you and why?

There are so many wonderful non-profits doing important work in our community. My co-founder and I wanted to connect philanthropic women with those organizations. It was about raising the profile of these organizations, helping to support them financially, and creating community for both the donors and donees.

How do you feel your unique skills, experience and perspective further the organization’s cause? 

At the time, I had lived in Chicago for 23 years. I knew a large group of women who I suspected would be interested. I also had volunteered for years at multiple organizations. I knew the need was real and the women I contacted to donate knew I had credibility. 

What have you learned or gained, personally and/or professionally, through your work and/or volunteer experience?

Without question, the person who benefits the most through volunteer work, is the person herself. I have met wonderful people - nonprofit staff, nonprofit clients, donors. I have now been in every Chicago neighborhood and I have deep respect for the people who live in all of them. Chicago, for me, is now both bigger and smaller. It solidified my community.

What advice would you give to someone interested in building their career in the nonprofit sector or volunteering for an organization that resonates with their philanthropic priorities?  

1. Get your hands dirty. Writing a check is helpful and generous, but actually spending the time in an organization that resonates with you will impact you.

2. Go in assuming you know nothing and let the staff and clients help you understand the needs. There are a lot of narratives in the general conversation that aren't always accurate.

Did your experience at SYA play a role in your endeavors? If so, how?

Since SYA played a role in ALL of who I am, then the answer has to be an unequivocal "yes." Specific to volunteering, though, SYA showed me how to see the world through other people's eyes and gave me the opportunity to care about people I didn't always understand. 

SYA Side Note

Allison is an integral member of SYA's Board of Trustees. She was appointed in 2017 and completes her term at the end of June 2023. During her time on the board, she served as the chair of the Advancement Committee, guiding the Advancement team through several fundraising and programming initiatives ... especially during The Campaign for SYA. Prior to her role on the board, she was a member of the Philanthropy Council and remains a strong key connector with her classmates.