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Leader Profile:

Bruce Maza

Bruce Maza led the organizational development consultation for the Giving Indiana Funds for Tomorrow program funded by the Lilly Endowment. This statewide, multi-million dollar, decades-long effort ran parallel to the Michigan Community Foundations’ Youth Project (MCFYP) and had very similar goals. Facing comparable opportunities, challenges, criticism, and rewards as MCFYP, Maza worked very closely with the MCFYP project team to share ideas, create common tools, and provide consultation resources. Maza remained an engaged observer of the development of the Michigan philanthropic community.

Leadership Highlights

Mr. Bruce Maza talks about the importance of community foundations due to their lessons for future generations and their small scale focus.
Mr. Bruce Maza talks about his career in philanthropy.
Mr. Bruce Maza talks about the tight-knit relationships he formed with the individuals developing the Michigan Community Foundations' Youth Project (MCFYP).
Mr. Bruce Maza talks about how individuals in philanthropy should work to break down the power structure in society.
Mr. Bruce Maza talks about the value of local leadership in community foundations.
Mr. Bruce Maza talks about how some people were skeptical and opposed to the creation of numerous community foundations by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and the Lilly Endowment.
Mr. Bruce Maza talks about how the value of community foundations involves educating people about the philanthropic sector.
Mr. Bruce Maza talks about his concerns for the future of the nonprofit sector.


Bruce Maza earned a Bachelor of Arts in English and drama from Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, PA.

Philanthropic Biography

Maza relates his early introduction to philanthropy to his small hometown, where the “interconnectedness of all activity — business, government and voluntary sector — were in every way, everyday apparent.” The town had a philanthropic pulse evident in everything from the way they all worked together to put on the county fair to the way they all supported their neighbors.

Growing up, Maza and his brother took part in their father’s gladiola breeding hobby by delivering the blooms to widows in town. It was this small action that had the most impact on Maza’s developing comprehension of philanthropy.

“I remember their faces when they saw these two little boys with their arms full of flowers…There was something so powerful in what was happening as these little boys gave flowers to these ladies. That impressed on me in a way that I cannot overstate the role of the donor, of the giver, and the way that giving affects human relationships. I count the giving of those gladiolas as the beginning of my being attracted to the human behavior involved in giving.”

Later, while studying acting in college, Maza began working for the New York City Opera Guild as a fundraiser. “I became instantly fascinated with why these ladies did this and how they generated behavior that produced the desire to give to the opera company.”

Throughout his career as a fundraiser, grantmaker, and administrator, Maza’s fascination with donor motivation remained constant. “While there are many elements of my career that have now become wearying” … “the fascination with the moment in which the decision to give is made remains as strong as it did when the little boy was taking gladiolas to Mrs. Maynard.”

Contributions to the Field

One of Maza’s lasting contributions to the philanthropic field came during his early years when serving as resident director of the Lilly Endowment’s Giving Indiana Funds for Tomorrow initiative. As part of this initiative, Maza spent a significant portion of his time traveling throughout the state of Indiana facilitating training seminars for up and coming community foundations. These sessions were invaluable in helping to teach inexperienced stakeholders about board member roles and responsibilities, fundraising, engagement, and the role of community foundations in civil society. “Particularly,” said Maza, “we were aware that we were helping leaders in local communities set precedents for behavior that would help to maintain the culture of giving in their local communities — and there was no work that was more important.”

Maza identified two signs of future success in working with newly organized community foundations:

  1. having members who assigned themselves roles based on tasks that they were already skilled in;
  2. having at least one member who was comfortable having conversations with community members about endowed gifts.

“I am certain that the most important characteristic of the successful young community foundation was when a sense of team pervaded the organizing group … each participating in a division of labor that most accurately reflected the individual strengths and experience of each of the volunteers who had come forward to be the inaugural leaders of the organization. I knew that was going to be a success.”

“Now at the end of the day, all of this work that has been done in Michigan and Indiana is about creating a new and more complete understanding of what citizen leadership is.”

Since the GIFT program began in 1990, the Lilly Endowment has helped the development and growth of community foundations in every one of Indiana’s 92 counties. Their combined assets have increased from $100 million in 1990 to approximately $3.6 billion at the end of 2017. Through Maza’s hard work and the GIFT initiative, Indiana community foundations have become a moving force in shaping their society and providing people with opportunities to engage in hands-on, local philanthropy.

Bruce Maza served as the first non-family executive director of the C.E. & S. Foundation until 2014. The foundation supports initiatives within the fields of higher education and international cooperation, and initiatives that seek to foster philanthropic spirit and nonprofit management expertise. Additionally, he served on the board of the National Center for Family Philanthropy.


Bruce Maza was interviewed regarding his insights and experiences in working with Michigan’s philanthropic community and the Our State of Generosity (OSoG) partners. The following quotes specifically relate to the five organizing themes of the OSoG project.

Servant Leadership in Michigan Philanthropy

“What I most remember are the ways in which you [Kathy Agard] and Jim [McHale] and I communicated in a way that we supported each other very personally during a period of time when we were called upon to be obsessive in our attention and service to the organizing committees of new community foundations. It took from them this personal commitment, energy, focus, empathy. If we hadn’t been able to talk to one another late at night and say, “You’ll never guess what happened today,” or, “What would you do if you were confronted with this situation,” or, “I have the executive director who is having her first tiff with the founding chairman. How do you help them to reach consensus about–.” There were all of those very personal things, because at the end of the day this work is so deeply personal.”

“They began their discussions about grand philanthropic strategies thinking about individual people living in local communities. They didn’t begin, as it appears to me we are now inclined to do, with a hefty report of statistics. It’s not that they were in any way resistant to the reflection and self-awareness that can come from data mining, but that the impulse that gave rise to their strategies was an apt and accurate assessment of how individual people exercised the values that gave them what they called their quality of life.”

Human, Financial, and Knowledge Resources

“It wasn’t that we were uniquely qualified, although the skill sets that we did have were replicable: the fact that we were intellectually trustworthy; the fact that we were committed; the fact that we remembered details; the fact that we were empathetic to the fact that we were dealing with adult learners.”

“To understand what family-based philanthropy is and what its challenges are is the fundamental requirement of the preservation of the culture of giving.”

Practical Wisdom

“I think that the personal collegiality, therefore, that we established was a critical element to the success that those programs have had since.”

“So if you were inventing a model, finding a way to create collegiality in differing places among those who were doing the work — and when I say collegiality, I mean real collegiality — would certainly be an element that folks ought to try to build into such an effort.”

“I am certain that the most important characteristic of the successful young community foundation was when a sense of team pervaded the organizing group.”

“I am convinced at the end of the day that the community foundation instrument is perhaps the most complete example of all that is good, that is powerful, that has potential in the American voluntary sector. The community foundation is the single institution where are, represented in its very functioning, all of the driving forces that make the American experiment in democracy valuable — all of them. It is perhaps the one place where the energy of all of the three sectors gather under the leadership that is primarily voluntary in nature. It is the place where donors express their deepest values, their deepest concerns, and where they preserve the behaviors that they each believe were most valuable in their lives and in their communities while they were there.”

“There is such a dynamic relationship between donors from the past supporting the best, most hopeful, most productive human resources in the present. And that said, that’s very, very powerful.”


C.E. & S. Foundation. (n.d.). About us. Retrieved from http://www.cesfoundation.com/who-we-are.html


Lilly Endowment, Inc. (2020). GIFT phase VII. https://lillyendowment.org/stories/gift-vii-funding-invites-leaders-to-envision-stronger-communities/

This profile was last updated: 04/06/2020