Collaborative Giving with Ellen Rossi

Ellen Rossi is a community-driven philanthropist who pioneers collaborative giving. As a part of the S.J. and Jessie E. Quinney, Emma Eccles Jones, and Lawson families, she believes it is her civic duty to serve Utah and engages in innovative philanthropy techniques to maximize her impact.

Ellen comes from a long line of philanthropists who inspire her. “They were often ahead of their time and leaned into the communities that lacked a voice,” she said. Her internship at The Nature Conservancy in their Moab Project Office marked a turning point in her life. “I learned to recognize that I not only had the capacity to implement change but I also had a civic obligation to do so. Ever since, I believe that you have to get in the middle of things and get dirty to encourage systemic change,” she shared.

Working in a personal way, Ellen invests in people and their ideas. “If we have a long-term relationship with a nonprofit leader with a track-record of success and they propose a new idea — we will likely go with them on that journey. Why? Because we believe in that leader and that organization.” Ellen thinks success can go beyond specific deliverables when you support relationships with your grantees. “I love when something very small affects the organization more broadly and they can leverage a small investment to get to the next stage,” she said.

Ellen has seen collaborative giving increase progress to resolve Utah's larger issues. “I serve on the board of several family foundations and we often collaborate, especially when there is crossover between interest areas and/or applicants have larger funding asks. This can be an effective way to deploy larger-scale funding,” she said. She believes developing relationships with other donors has helped her dive deeper into philanthropy. “Utah Grantmakers Alliance is an excellent resource to engage with peers. Every Foundation and Donor Advised Fund is unique, and we can never learn from too many perspectives.”

As Ellen extends her family’s legacy, she shares her local expertise with other donors as a vocal advocate for collaborative philanthropy. From championing the arts to preserving natural landscapes, her close relationships with many Utah organizations have created effective long-term partnerships focused on uplifting Utah.

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