General FAQs

What is On the Table and why should I participate?
By hosting a mealtime conversation as part of On the Table on Tuesday, May 16, 2017, you’ll be part of an exciting, region-wide initiative to explore the ways in which we have the power to collaborate in order to make our communities stronger, safer and more dynamic.

During each of the past three years, On the Table has proven that Chicago-area residents share a desire to come together, collaborate more, become more civically involved and more committed to our community. While we know that there’s no “quick fix” to the issues facing our region, progress will result from residents and organizations working to make contributions that add up to a greater solution that helps unite the place we call home.

What you do matters – and when we come together as a community to learn from and with each other, we have the power to impact both neighborhoods and lives. That’s what On the Table is all about.

What is the goal of On the Table?
Our goal is to bring together the residents of our region to discuss philanthropy and how we can work together to build and sustain our communities. We seek to create a movement that inspires each of us to do more – to contribute our time, talent and ideas. By agreeing to participate, you’ve already taken an important step to be part of this movement.

How can I get involved?
Right now, we’re in the process of recruiting hosts from across the Chicago region to be part of On the Table. To sign up, simply click the “Register to Host” button at
Hosting is simpler than you think, and we’ve got resources (see below) to help! However, if you are unable to host, we’ve rounded up a selection of events that welcome community members to join the conversation. Learn more

What is The Chicago Community Trust?
The Chicago Community Trust is the region’s largest community foundation. For the past century, the Trust has connected the generosity of donors with community needs by making grants to nonprofit organizations working to improve metropolitan Chicago. In 2015, the Trust and its donors granted more than $198 million to nonprofits in metropolitan Chicago. From strengthening community schools and assisting local arts programs to building health centers and helping those affected by violence, the Trust continues to enhance our region. To learn more, please visit the Trust online at

Where can I find more information about On the Table?
New and updated information will be posted regularly on the On the Table website. You can also follow us on Twitter and Facebook. Additionally, you can send us an e-mail at to have one of our outreach team members contact you with more information.

Host FAQs

What does a host need to do? What’s involved?
It’s really pretty simple: You determine a location for folks to meet on May 16, 2017, for a mealtime conversation to discuss the ways in which we can commit to making our communities stronger, safer and more dynamic – communities where opportunities grow, quality of life is enhanced and families thrive. You can have your breakfast, lunch or dinner wherever you want and serve whatever you like – from a catered or home-cooked meal to a picnic, barbecue or soup-and-salad meal.

How do I get started?
Visit to register your event.

Who do I invite?
The invite list is up to you. If you’re unsure, start with people you know – friends, family, colleagues and neighbors. You may consider reaching out to a larger community by co-hosting your event with a local church or nonprofit. You might even consider reconnecting with people you met through previous On the Table conversations. Consider asking your guests to bring a friend, or invite people from your network that don’t already know each other.

Eight-to-twelve guests per table is ideal. On the Table is about giving everyone a chance to speak and be heard. If you want to host a larger gathering, consider breaking into smaller groups and allowing time for each to discuss and report out to the larger group.

What should an On the Table gathering look like?
Hosts are encouraged to be creative. The priority is to create an atmosphere conducive to meaningful conversation – a potluck in your dining room, a picnic in a nearby park, a gathering at a neighborhood restaurant or a backyard barbecue are just some of the many possibilities.

What is expected of me during and after my On the Table gathering is over?
We look forward to hearing about the stories and commitments discussed at your gathering. We encourage all participants to share insights, photos and videos on social media throughout the day, using #OnTheTable2017.

At the conclusion of the On the Table events on May 16, we’ll send every participant (hosts and guests) a short e-mail survey to learn more about their experiences and their commitments. You may also be asked to participate in a more in-depth post-event interview, where we hope to dive even deeper into some of the experiences, thoughts and ideas that arose from these conversations.

All On the Table participants can opt-in to receive a copy of an electronic copy of the summary report detailing the impact and outcomes of this initiative. You will also be invited to future civic engagement programs, initiatives and events sponsored by the Trust.