Women of Philanthropy: Susan B. Noyes

Susan B. Noyes
Founder, Make It Better

When Susan sat around her kitchen table with a group of her closest friends and talked about how they could amplify the charitable work they were already doing, she had no idea their conversation would turn into a thriving website and magazine.

“We had all run fundraisers and chaired events; most had been president of a not-for-profit board,” Susan says. She wanted to use the collective wisdom of that “Kitchen Cabinet” and share not only their knowledge, but also the inspiration that comes from learning about others in the community who are making a difference.

From those early brainstorming sessions in 2006, Susan began networking and dreaming. Four years later, Make It Better not only bolsters not-for-profit groups in all the ways Susan dreamed, it also directly contributes by helping those organizations with their fundraising.

Bark 4 Care is a great example of a charity that worked with us to raise money and awareness for their cause,” Susan says. Make It Better donated $5 for each subscription to the online Better Letter that the organization collected. She was delighted by the initiative of Denise Kaplan, founder of the organization, and happily signed the check giving them $3,360 to date.

And Bark 4 Care is just one of hundreds of organizations that have shared in the $438,265 that Make It Better has donated and raised for not-for-profits.

Beyond Make It Better, Susan is passionate about education. “I’m interested in everything that relates to improving education for kids,” she says. “I believe we will solve most of the world’s ills if we can get everyone well educated.”

To that end, Susan volunteered her time to the Harvard Graduate School of Education Visiting Committee to help launch the David T. Kearns Program on Business, Government, and Education—a collaborative graduate degree that hopes to bring the best minds and techniques to improving the nation’s schools.

Closer to home, Susan is active in efforts to improve Chicago Public Schools through the Annandale Challenge Board and has also served as a member of the New Trier School Board and on various strategic planning committees.

“I love strategy work, because you get to see it implemented and see what difference it makes,” she says.

Finally, Susan, her husband, Nick, and their children champion all things musical. They have generously supported the Lyric Opera and the Music Institute of Chicago. She is also active in her church, Kenilworth Union, where she is a trustee.

And through Make It Better, Susan is constantly learning about new causes and worthy organizations that amaze and excite her. If an effort is close to a reader’s heart, she can’t wait to hear about it.

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