Dave McGowan Guides The DuPage Foundation

By Larry Atseff

ommunity foundations like DuPage Foundation are defined as grantmaking public charities that improve lives of people in defined geographic areas by connecting donors with effective nonprofits. Dave McGowan, for 23 years, has led DuPage Foundation to become one of the most productive links between donors and nonprofits in the Chicago area. You might ask, why does there even have to be a go-between from donors to nonprofits? Why don’t donors just get on the phone to a nonprofit and say “I want to give you some money”. Dave smiles and says, “Well, that’s what many people do. They have a favorite charity and they have wise counsel and they know just what to do.” However, there are some individual, family, or company donors who just don’t know much about charities or local needs, but want to make substantial contributions as good citizens. There are others who don’t have a lot of money, but would still like to give, and wonder if they can make a difference. There are still others who can contribute something besides money, but don’t know to which charities they should offer their skills or services for the greatest benefit. For all those reasons and more, DuPage Foundation has become useful to both donors and nonprofits. Over the years, Dave has worked with a board, and now a staff of 12, alongside 150 or so dedicated volunteers who are experts in fund raising, managing organizations, wealth management and other areas that can benefit nonprofits as well as donors. Combined, they have extraordinary expertise in the areas where DuPage Foundation makes grants: health and human services, education, arts and culture, environment, and animal welfare.

“We know the nonprofits in the county. We have an excellent vantage point. We know how they operate and we understand their needs. We convene nonprofits so they can collaborate rather than compete in offering services or seeking funding.”

As he puts it, “We know the nonprofits in the county. We have an excellent vantage point. We know how they operate and we understand their needs. We convene nonprofits so they can collaborate rather than compete in offering services or seeking funding.” In the greater Hinsdale area, DuPage Foundation assists groups such as:

• Assistance League of Chicagoland West
• Candor Health Education • First Folio Theater
• Graue Mill
• HCS Family Services
• Hinsdale Historical Society
• Hinsdale Humane Society
• Lizzadro Museum of Lapidary Art
• LOVE Christian Clearinghouse
• Mayslake Village
• Salt Creek Ballet
• The Community House
• Wellness House

“We also know major donors and their interests. We can help them combine resources with other donors who have similar interests to make a greater impact than working alone. This goes for small as well as large donors.” Crain’s Business has recognized DuPage Foundation as a top 25 foundation, holding more than $110 million in assets, and which has distributed more than $55 million to DuPage county non-profits since its founding 35 years ago. When COVID-19 hit, the Foundation was able to quickly create its COVID-19 Response Fund, raising and granting nearly $1.8 million to help organizations that had been affected by the pandemic. It seems Dave was destined to work in the nonprofit arena. He says, “When I was growing up, I was surrounded by a closeknit family of parents, grandparents, and other relatives who were very involved in charities. I remember collecting for UNICEF on Halloween and I got pledges for participating in the 30-mile hunger marches in the early 70s. My dad took my brothers and me to wheelchair basketball games and he coached us in basketball at St. Mary’s in Downers Grove. My family and faith formation influenced me, so giving and volunteering just came naturally. Those experiences prepared me for my 40-year career in philanthropy.

I have been extremely fortunate to work with knowledgeable and dedicated people to connect donors and nonprofits in productive ways for the past 23 years.” (Dave is a certified fund raising executive, and, in 2009, was given the West Suburban Philanthropic Network Distinguished Service Award.) As his three adult children have put it, he has also been a great Dad: Rose DeCanniere: “You are the best mentor and role model for living life with love, empathy, compassion and fun. You are always there for us to listen and share words of wisdom. I can count on you to push me and encourage me when I need it. You believe in us even when we don’t believe in ourselves! You are also very fair and remain calm through challenging times. Finally, you are very generous and always give us all of your love, time and energy. Love you!” Sean McGowan: “You have done everything from planning to providing space for us to continue spending time together as a family. You want us all to stay connected and have a great time.” Kathleen McGowan: “You are the first person I go to with a problem-you have a solution or a way to make me feel better about the issue. You are a great role model for success so you help guide us to do our best. While you are very successful, you are also humble and always seeking to help others. You are loving, caring and fun. You are also very reliable and a great planner. Basically, you are the best!!! Love you.”

*Photo provided by Mary McGowan