It has been a generous time for charitable giving in the area, with the Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region awarding a record $26.8 million in grants to charitable organizations in the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2017.
The grants – which come from 1,490 permanent endowments and other charitable funds the Community Foundation manages and invests on behalf of individuals, families, businesses and other organizations – went to 1,060 charitable organizations across northeastern Wisconsin and beyond. The grant total represents a 40 percent increase over the Foundation’s all-time record of $19 million set the year before. The total for grants awarded has more than doubled since 2013.
“Just when you think you can’t be surprised by the generous spirit of the people of the Fox Valley region, our donors step up once again,” President and CEO Curt Detjen said.
Donors added $36.8 million in contributions to their charitable funds, a 27% increase, year over year.
Collectively, the assets of the funds within the Community Foundation and associated organizations totaled $326 million as of June 30, 2017, up 9.6 percent over the prior fiscal year. The endowed assets are invested to grow over time and sustain grant-making in perpetuity. The 15.8 percent rate of return the Foundation earned on its endowed portfolio ranked in the top 10 percent of foundations nationally.
Much of the growth in grants comes from the growing group of donors choosing to do their charitable giving through the Community Foundation. The Foundation saw 75 new charitable funds created during the past fiscal year.
“More generous donors in the Fox Valley area have chosen to work with us as their partner in giving, and we couldn’t be more pleased to serve them,” Detjen said.
“This dramatic increase in giving and grant-making proves the importance the people of the Fox Valley region place on giving back,” said John Hogerty, who chaired the Foundation’s Board of Directors for fiscal 2016-17. “These numbers are a measure of how fortunate we are to live here.”
Detjen said that seeing more people and organizations choosing to partner with the Foundation signals good things for the region’s future. It means donors not only are supporting the important work area nonprofits do to maintain our quality of life now, but are planning to leave behind gifts that will continue to support that work long into the future. Donors who have informed the Community Foundation of such planned gifts are recognized in its Himebaugh Legacy Circle, which currently has 219 members.
The grants cover a wide range of causes in its five-county service region – Outagamie, Waupaca, Calumet and Shawano counties plus the Neenah-Menasha area of Winnebago County. The grants were distributed among the following categories.
- Arts and Culture, $2.4 million
- Community Improvement, $5.9 million
- Education (includes $1.1 million in scholarships), $9.6 million
- Environment, $1.3 million
- Health, $3.3 million
- Human Services, $4.3 million
The Community Foundation was established in 1986 with $5,000 Walter L. Rugland received as part of the first Community Service Award given by Aid Association for Lutherans (now Thrivent Financial), where he had been president, CEO and chairman. It is the second-largest certified community foundation in Wisconsin and among the largest 10 percent nationally.