About Me
My consulting practice is designed to bring a variety of resources to nonprofits, including foundations.

Oak Park, IL 60304
alicecottingham (at) gmail.com

Facilitating strategic thinking

There aren't a lot of organizations as well run and strategically focused as Grantmakers for Effective Organizations.  That's what makes my occasional work with GEO so fun.  First, I worked with senior staff to anticipate and plan for changes related to the move of the executive director to another city --  a transition that has been nearly seamless. More recently I facilitated a conversation about adjusting to a challenging environment of great opportunity and constrained resources. 

Project Streamline is a national effort to make the typical Rube Goldberg machines of grant application and reports more reasonable for grantmakers and the nonprofits they support.  With Jessica Bearman, I created a workshop that offers foundation staff the opportunity to step back, observe, laugh, and revise.  Jessica and I have trained together and separately, refining as we go. 

Project development and management

Ten grantmakers wanted to ensure that the 2010 census included people who are historically under-counted.  Their contributions of $1.2 million were granted to 26 Illinois nonprofits.  I co-wrote the RFP, led information sessions for prospective applicants, read and critqued 80 proposals, created a funder review process, helped define priorities, designed progress reports, develop grantee gatherings, and back up grantees with technical information.  I'm evaluating the impact of the Count Me In grants now.

The Illinois Early Childhood Fellows Program is the brainchild of six funders with a shared passion for young children's development -- and supporting new, diverse leaders in the field. Four Fellows have a multidimensional opportunity to deepen and practice their leadership skills in policy and advocacy. and to extend their professional networks.  With a partner, I created the recruitment and screening process for placement organizations and the first cohort of Fellows.  I design and deliver seminars on early childhood, leadership, and making change.   We're now in the process of choosing the next cohort of Fellows and host organizations, as well as a new home institution.

Research and writing

For Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees' handbook, I wrote a chapter about funders' collaboratives. Drawing on my experience with the Fund for Immigrants and Refugees, and that of a number of similar initiatives, my chapter guides funders who want to take advantage of a cooperative approach to grant making. Grantmakers' collaboratives make more dollars available than would possible for most single foundations, offer a collegial forum for joint learning and problem-solving, and significantly increase support for a population or issue of shared importance.  For GCIR, I also research pressing issues, interview experts, lead and facilitate conversations, and draft materials. 

Proposal review, analysis, and recommendations

My experience as a practitioner and as a grant maker enables me to provide closely read, thoughtful consideration of new and renewal requests for funding from nonprofit organizations. Over the years, I have reviewed grant requests to more than a dozen private and public funders. As a consultant, I've been a reviewer for the Arts Work Fund, Chicago Community Trust, Illinois Early Childhood Fellowship, Illinois Funders Census Initiative, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Michael Reese Health Trust, and the Woods Fund of Chicago.