Vital Sign Step by Step


The North Milan Greater Area Foundation was established in 2006 to support the communities of the North Milan area (Bollatese, sesterse, rhodense), consisting of 23 municipalities and more than 700,000 people. Globally, it’s part of the 1,800 Community Foundations.
The Foundation supports local NPOs, charities and associations with several annual programmes to improve the quality of local life, and fostering the culture of giving. With a professional team the Foundation is a philanthropic organization helping people to pull together, supporting partnership and donors’ funds to address local challenges and opportunities.
The North Milan Greater Area Foundation is part of the Community Foundations programme of Fondazione Cariplo.


The “Vital Signs initiative” was created in 2001, Toronto, Canada, (and then spread in USA and UK) and is a community philanthropy tool bringing together existing research and Community Foundations local knowledge into reports that provide a qualitative and quantitative health check, benchmark and needs analysis social themes facing communities today. Why did we start? Defining programmes and call-for-applications every year, the Foundation has interrogated itself about the grants impact and how to measure it. With the University of Milan Bicocca, the Community Foundation of North Milan Greater Area want to collect a set of data beyond a statistical survey, and investigate the voice of the communities.



Working since 2015, the Vice Chair Mr. Giudici spearheaded the Foundation Board with evidence regarding the Vital Signs from USA, Canada and UK. The Foundation accomplished significant goals: improve a general engagement; inform other organizations that could be impacted by the focus group and data collection; announce to the broader community the foundation’s vision; and “open the door”, providing an on-going information keeping the conversation moving for a greater alignment with other donors’ fund or programmes.

So,  January, 30, 2018 the Congress “COMUNITA’ VITALI. DATI, SEGNI, SGUARDI CONDIVISI PER INTERPRETARE IL CAMBIAMENTO NEI TERRITORI DELL’AREA METROPOLITANA” presented the results of the first 2 years of activities. The speakers underlined the importance of a co-partnership between public-private and governmental agencies and organizations, engaging community leaders to meet and discuss, setting up a co-strategy, and a common agenda. Unanimously, the Community Foundation of North Milan Greater Area is quoted as the place  (link a pagina seminario). In the next months, we will set up the strategic and practical activities across donors, people and leaders. To receive any document, please contact Mr. Daniele P. Giudici and Ms. Valentina Amato at:


From the beginning we had the extraordinary support of important international institutions:

In September 2018, the NMGAF has been invited to share the experience on Vital Sings and Vital Communities (Comunità Vitali) to a panel of more than 30 European Community Foundations. Thanks to the l’European Community Foundations Initiative we participated at the Conference “Community Needs Analyses: Current Approaches and Practice in Europe

The Vital Communities activities were described and discussed, sharing practical issues, best options, difficulties and accomplishments.

We believe these quotes represent the work and the key we realizes till now.

Anja Böllhoff e Mihaela Giugiu (ECFI), Daniele Giudici (FCNM) e Cathy Elliot (UK Vital Signs)

Anja Böllhoff– Coordinating Director European Community Foundation Initiative: “Community Foundations in Italy are known for their role as local grant makers and promoters of philanthropic commitment. As foundations by citizens for citizens, they enjoy increasing popularity and distribution – by now, there are Community Foundations in 37 Italian communities. It’s less known that community foundations can also play an important role in assuming local leadership. The North Milan Greater Area Foundation has impressively demonstrated this additional benefit for the region that consists of 23 municipalities. As the first of the Italian Community Foundations, and as one of the few in Europe, the North Milan Greater Area Foundation adapted the Canadian Vital Signs for regional purposes and published the first Vital Signs Report in January 2018. What is so special about it? In doing so, the North Milan Greater Area Foundation not only shows how important a strategic, fact-based development of its own activities is. It gives us who are interested in this region with more than 700,000 people, important insights into actual conditions of the region.  The foundation thus assumes its role of a local designer. We greatly admire this commitment and are grateful that the Foundation shares its experiences with colleagues from all over Europe so that soon even more Community Foundations will use Vital Sign as a strategic tool in their local work”.

Julia Eplinius (Fond. Com. Amburgo), Daniele Giudici (FCNM), Lena Blum e Rüdiger Ratsch-Heitmann (Fond. Com. Amburgo)

Rüdiger Ratsch-Heitmann – Director Hamburg Community Foundation: “BürgerStiftung Hamburg starting vital signs process: How to get started? That was our main issue joining the thematic meeting of ECFI concerning vital signs which took place in Hamburg, September 2018. Within a very open minded atmosphere we got input from a small but very special forum who’s participants from Canada, UK, Italy and many other European countries were sharing all their experiences on vital signs research and strategies. Being one of the oldest and largest community foundations in Germany we would like to follow the example of our international colleagues and advice our grant making strategies by using vital signs. The idea of combining data facts with the knowledge of community members seems quite right to get an overview of the needs of Hamburg. We were very impressed by the Vital Signs process of the Fondazione Comunitaria North Milano, where besides the data-analysis in collaboration with a university about 6 to 8 focus groups with community leaders worked intensively about half a year on the indicators of the main themes and helped to priories the results. Thanks to Daniele Giudici, who shared his experiences with us!”

Alison Sidney (Community Foundations of Canada)

Alison Sidney– Coordinatore attività strategiche e Vital Signs delle Fondazioni Comunitarie Canadesi, ha riportato come la Fondazione Nord Milano abbia studiato, illustrato e previsto un modello di Vital Signs adatto al territorio oltre che per costruire momenti inclusivi per organizzazioni e donatori: “It was inspiring to see the leadership from Daniele Giudici with the Fondazione Comunitaria Nord Milano and to hear what the Foundation has learned about their community through the Vital Signs program”