This week, the Community Foundation of Southern Wisconsin joins with more than 700 community foundations across America in celebration of Community Foundation Week and the Association of Fund Raising Professionals in celebrating National Philanthropy Day Thursday, Nov. 15.
To quote Winston Churchill, “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” According to the Charities Aid Foundation, the U.S. ranks number one in the world in charitable giving. According to the Chronicle of Philanthropy, Wisconsin residents allocated 3.4 percent of their income to charity; the national median is 4.7 percent.
For those unfamiliar: community foundations are nonprofit grantmaking organizations that help improve the lives of people in a specific geographic area. The first community foundation, in Cincinnati, will celebrate its 100th birthday in 2013.
The Community Foundation of Southern Wisconsin, established in 1992, is a steward of more than 530 charitable funds in nine southern Wisconsin counties, including Grant, Lafayette, Iowa, Crawford, Vernon, Green, Rock, Sauk and Walworth. Major CFSW funds in western region include the Platteville Community Fund, PHS Scholarship Fund, Lancaster Community Fund, Crawford County Community Fund, Iowa–Grant Educational Foundation Fund, and the Hillsboro Excellence in Education and Scholarship Funds.
Thanks to the generosity of donors and the high quality investment management provided by the Foundation, each of these community and/or school funds has grown, playing an ever-larger role in making our Southwest Wisconsin communities better. In 2011–12, for example, grants and scholarships from these funds and others in the region totaled nearly $250,000. These dollars supported a wide variety of programs and projects in the arts, economic development, education, health and safety, historic preservation, recreation and social welfare.
This investment of nearly a quarter-million charitable dollars in our region is a tremendous boost to our local nonprofit and governmental agencies who are facing the dual challenge of limited resources and greater responsibilities in these challenging economic times. It is also a boost for our students and their families who face the rising costs of a post-secondary education.
Donors to funds affiliated with the Community Foundation of Southern Wisconsin can be assured that the Foundation operates with the highest of professional standards as established by the Community Foundations National Standards Board. Our investment managers including representatives from BMO/Harris, Johnson Bank, Union Bank, US Bank, First National Bank & Trust of Beloit and Wisconsin Bank & Trust see that our assets are prudently managed and invested. Our dedicated volunteer advisory board members make certain that their funds’ grants are impactful for the communities they serve.
Charitable funds can be established with a wide variety of assets including cash, real estate, stock and personal property. We’ve even accepted a truck load of corn to start a fund! We are always happy to help anyone who wishes to start a fund for their community or school or who wants to make a donation to an existing fund. As a public, tax-exempt organization, donations are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law.
Barb Daus is the Southwest Wisconsin donor services representative for the Community Foundation of Southern Wisconsin. For information or to make a donation to any of the Southwest Wisconsin funds, contact Daus, 778-3344, firstname.lastname@example.org. Further information and an online donation option are available at the Community Foundation of Southern Wisconsin’s website, www.cfsw.org.