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Donors put us in larger company

By Curt Detjen, President and CEO

How do you measure the giving spirit of a community?

One very good barometer is looking at how they give through their community foundation.

The recently released 2016 Columbus Survey is the most authoritative measure we have for comparing giving to our Community Foundation with others across the country. The results are very encouraging.

Most of the 253 foundations included in the survey are located in communities with much larger populations than the Fox Valley. Still, we rank No. 61 nationally in assets — the total value of all of the charitable funds established with us. We are second in Wisconsin, behind only the Greater Milwaukee Foundation.

We have consistently, through the years, found a place near the middle of the top 100 list. That’s a measure of the generosity of the people of the Fox Valley region. Our donors regularly put those numbers into words by telling us why they give.

Becky and Jon Stellmacher said they established their family charitable fund and made provisions for it in their estate planning because they want to treat the community as an extra child that also should share in their legacy. “We just feel that these are blessings that should be shared,” Jon said.

Christine and Robert Faulks feel an obligation to give back for the longstanding support the Waupaca community has given their business — Faulks Brothers Construction Inc. “Leave the woodpile higher than you found it,” is their philosophy.

And Bob and Mary Karisny have included making grants from their charitable fund as part of their Christmas tradition, and have seen the sense of giving develop in their grandchildren. “It’s just like watching a flower grow,” Bob said.

That is the meaning behind these numbers.

In addition to our 61st ranking in assets, we ranked No. 68 in grants awarded at $22,828,425 and No. 73 in gifts received $17,601,538. The chart below shows some of the communities close to us in size.


Ranking/name of community foundation/assets/date reported

Other statistics in the report describe the Fox Valley as a place where people give often. We ranked 47th in the number of transactions (a total of gifts received and grants awarded) with the average gift or grant at $5,158. We were 53rd in per capita giving, with $58.51 contributed per person living in our service area, based on a population of 390,000 in Outagamie, Calumet, Waupaca and Shawano counties and the Neenah-Menasha area of Winnebago County.


Ranking/name of community foundation/total transactions/average transaction size

Per Capita Giving

Ranking/name of community foundation/gifts per capita/population served

The Columbus Survey is based on self-reported figures from 2016, with 253 community foundations taking part. Named for the foundation in Ohio that started the survey, it is now conducted by CF Insights, a service of the  New York-based Foundation Center.

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