Venture Philanthropy

One of the Gorter Family Foundation’s important goals is to provide comprehensive support to nonprofit organizations operating in Lake County to better enable them to grow and meet their strategic goals. This is often accomplished through a process called Venture Philanthropy. When approached by an agency, the Gorter Family Foundation carefully analyzes their grant request to determine if the strategic plan is feasible, to assess the funds needed to reach the strategic goal, and to assist with developing a business plan to meet objectives. Usually venture philanthropy grants are multi-year in nature. Requirements include regular financial and operating reporting, as well as showing other sources of funding being developed to provide continuity to their operation once the Gorter Family Foundation grant expires. Throughout the period of the grant, the Gorter Family Foundation will continue to provide advice and counsel, as appropriate. This venture philanthropy approach is designed both to help new nonprofits get started (see Bernie’s Book Bank example below) and to help existing organizations expand their operations and/or develop new programs.

CASE STUDY: Bernie’s Book Bank & The Gorter Family Foundation


Founded as a 501(c)3 in December of 2009, Bernie’s Book Bank collects, processes and distributes quality new and gently used children’s books to significantly increase book ownership among at-risk infants, toddlers and school-age children throughout Chicagoland. Bernie’s Book Bank delivers twelve quality new or gently used books per year to at-risk children because book ownership enables and empowers them in their pursuit of a better life through reading.

In 2009 Brian Floriani approached the Gorter Family Foundation to ask its help in developing and expanding Bernie’s Book Bank, an organization he had created in memory of his father, Bernie Floriani. The objective would be to collect and sort used books from a variety of donors and to package them for distribution to children in lower income areas who did not have ready access to reading materials. GFF was intrigued with his idea and impressed with his enthusiasm. The Foundation consulted with Brian on his business plan and committed to an initial grant of $45,000 to be paid over three years to help Bernie’s Book Bank get started. Monthly reports on progress were required and Brian was asked to seek additional sources of funding.


Since 2009, Bernie’s Book Bank has collected, processed, and distributed more than 18.6 million books. Today, the nonprofit serves 275,000 children annually. What Brian has created is a revolutionary, scalable, ultra-efficient children’s book bank model that will be replicable across America. The Gorter Family Foundation is proud to be associated with this wonderful organization and continues to seek opportunities to collaborate with other organizations in a similar way.