On April 19, 2015, the inaugural Pillars Conference connected civic leaders, donors and grant recipients for a thoughtful exploration of the state of American Muslim philanthropy.
Pillars provides strategic funding to organizations that are advancing a better understanding of American Muslims and improving the wellbeing of all citizens in our shared communities. As a donor advised fund of The Chicago Community Trust, the initiative enables donor families to pool their resources in order to give with greater impact.
Since its creation, Pillars has made more than 50 grants totaling more than $1 million to a diverse portfolio of organizations. The daylong conference invited many of these grant recipients to share their experiences, and report on results from the field.
During the conference’s opening plenary Usama Canon, founding director of Ta’leef Collective, set the stage with a consideration of charitable giving in the Islamic context. Panel discussions provided for a creative exchange of ideas on topics including strategic philanthropy; advocacy and media engagement; and engaging underserved groups within the Muslim community.
Keynote addresses included Terry Mazany, president & CEO of the Trust, exploring the importance of diverse civic engagement; and Rami Nashashibi, executive director of IMAN, providing insight into opportunities for the emerging American Muslim nonprofit sector.
The conference closed with a suite of workshops designed to deepen knowledge and practical skills. Sessions included crowd-funding, operational effectiveness and planned giving, the last led by Abbe Temkin, the Trust’s director of major & planned gifts.
The inclusive spirit of this milestone event exemplified the Pillars approach: uniting the values of faith and service into powerful, results-driven collective action on behalf of a stronger community.