The Marshfield Area Community Foundation is a public, 501-C-3 charity. There are 30 community foundations in Wisconsin and about 700 in the nation. The purpose of all community foundations, whether they be relatively small (as we are with assets of $4.6 million) or very large (as is the Greater Milwaukee Foundation with assets over $400 million), is to accumulate charitable dollars that impact a specific geographic region in areas such as education, the arts, economic development, recreation, environmental protection, health care, and social services.
Most people are familiar with private foundations, established by individuals, families, or corporations. The key to a private foundation is that whoever establishes it has to have considerable wealth. You could say Community Foundations are much more democratic. We are in a sense an umbrella foundation containing many small foundations. We call those small foundations "funds."
Here's how it works. We help people with charitable intent; that is, someone who would like to set up a scholarship, perhaps, or a fund benefiting a charitable or non-profit entity (a church, a school, the boy scouts, a YMCA, the Opportunity Development Center) or a category (senior citizens, the handicapped, underprivileged youth.) These people wish to establish a means of providing ongoing grants to the beneficiary of their choice. They can set up a private foundation to do so, but if they don't have half a million to a million to start with, it may be too costly to be practical and it is probably going to be more administrative trouble than it is worth. So they turn to us. For as little as $10,000, we can establish a fund with the Community Foundation that achieves the donor's original intent. The donor names the fund and indicates the charitable purpose of the fund. We handle all the administrative details, all the paperwork, the accounting, the IRS reporting, the auditing, etc. We publicize the funds as appropriate, we communicate with the original fund donors, providing them quarterly financial statements and other information. We invest our assets so they can grow and become more valuable with time.
Besides these endowment funds (that are usually intended to last forever), we also manage what we call project specific funds. These funds are established by an organization for the purpose of some sort of short term project...usually a capital improvement project. Our project specific funds have helped build a new baseball stadium (Hackman Field), the new pavilion in Wildwood Park, the Griese Park soccer fields, and others. These funds have often been partnerships with the city, in which the city provided partial funding and private donors provided the rest through our fund. Once the project is completed, the fund is either spent down to zero or remaining money is converted into a sustained fund that will provide ongoing maintenance or improvements for the original project.
In addition to annual grants from our named funds, we also award grants from what we call our Unrestricted Fund. Unlike most of our funds which name the organization or cause that will receive a grant each year, the Unrestricted Fund makes annual competitive grants. We call them Community Grants. These discretionary grants provide the Foundation its greatest flexibility in responding to and addressing new and changing community needs. Complete information about all our grants is available on the Grants from Funds page.
All of our funds are community centered—the funds we raise stay right here and help support a variety of charitable and philanthropic purposes in Marshfield and the surrounding area. Our Unrestricted Fund is partially dependent on annual public contributions. An unrestricted gift to the Marshfield Area Community Foundation directly enriches the quality of life we all share, thanks to the work of many organizations and individuals (see Making a Charitable Gift page.)
We are a trust form organization. Our official trustees are Associated Trust Company and M&I Wealth Management. They do all the actual investing of our money with oversight from our Board. Our Board is broadly representative of the community. Some of them are at-large members of the board, others are outside appointments (see Our Board and Staff page.) All of them are highly respected individuals in the community...and by community, we mean the area represented by this Community Foundation (see Geographic Service Area page.)
The Foundation's Board and Staff are proud of the impact the Marshfield Area Community Foundation has had in the community and treasure the trust this community has placed in the Foundation. We hope to hear from you. We will do our best to answer your questions. We will value your suggestions.