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Champion of charity

McHenry County Community Foundation’s Robin Doeden builds bridges between nonprofits and philanthropists

McHenry County Magazine

A s the executive director of the McHenry County Community Foundation, Robin Doeden is charged with establishing partnerships, steering the organization and helping spread the word about the foundation. 

But perhaps her favorite part of the day is when she is able to sit down, one-on-one, and help someone discover a way to contribute to a local nonprofit. 

“I love getting to spend time with donors and discover what they are passionate about,” Doeden says. “We’re helping people leave a legacy and really make a long-lasting impact in the community. It goes beyond making a donation.”

In many ways, the foundation is a matchmaker, between a philanthropist, such as someone writing out plans for a will or estate, and the hundreds of organizations in the county. It’s not a matter of seeking out donations, but rather bridging someone, who is interested in making a contribution, with an organization that represents an individual’s passion or interest. 

Doeden started her career in journalism and marketing, which provided her with skills in listening and analysis that often come into play. She was working for Lutheran Home & Services, as part of its communications team, when she began to take notice of the vice president of development, who was seated at a nearby desk. With some encouragement and assistance, she began to understand the fundraising role and says that she was drawn into the work. 

“I always said, ‘If you can write, you can learn anything,’” Doeden says. 

She moved away from marketing and into fundraising and development – first with Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital – followed by work with the Chicagoland Lutheran Education Foundation. Doeden says that these experiences gave her a strong foundation before she accepted the role as executive director of the McHenry County Community Foundation in 2012. 

In her short time with MCCF, she has helped the endowment grow from $11 million to $30 million.

“McHenry [County] is one of the most generous places I have been,” Doeden says. “People really step up and help those in need.”

In 2015, and again in 2016, the foundation distributed more than $1.2 million in funds to nearly 70 different nonprofits serving McHenry County.

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