Our founders, Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley, believed passionately that land, arts, and collections inform who we are as a people: past, present, and future. They were deeply committed to the communities in which they lived – the Chicago region and the Lowcountry of South Carolina.


We seek to sustain and build resilient, vital, engaged, and equitable communities in the Chicago region and the Lowcountry of South Carolina by supporting conservation, arts, and collecting organizations in a variety of ways.


Nurturing a healthy planet begins with taking care of where we live. Protected areas and working lands — restored, and sustainably managed — are critical to both natural systems and humans. Stewarding our natural resources on which all life depends is imperative to our survival. Particularly in the face of climate change, land conservation is vital to protecting our water resources, addressing flooding, carbon storage, recreational opportunities, open space, and sound land use planning. All communities, including those of color, must be engaged in these critical conversations through equitable inclusion in the field.
Arts organizations – creatively accomplished and operationally strong – nurture our artists and help build vibrant communities. Art brings every type of person into the arena and invites them to find solace, engage with difference, and dream beyond the present moment. We value arts organizations across all disciplines, traditions, and communities, as they spark new ideas, bring forward voices, and challenge the way we see ourselves and think about the world.
Collections are comprised of diverse narratives that provide perspectives from the past, contribute to a better informed present, and lead to a more inclusive, sustainable and healthier future. We encourage collecting organizations in our two regions to amplify overlooked voices and animate and expand the stories and insights derived from their collections. Diverse narratives include the stories and perspectives of culturally specific communities—African Americans, Indigenous peoples, and other people of color—LGBTQ perspectives, working-class narratives, small community experiences, as well as other underrepresented groups and viewpoints. Emerging, compelling underrepresented perspectives reflective of collections in the areas of science, public health, and the natural world are also important to our regions’ collective narratives.