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Geographic Service Area

The official geographic service area of the Marshfield Area Community Foundation, beginning to our west and traveling clockwise, includes the following communities in addition to Marshfield: Chili, Granton, Neillsville, Loyal, Greenwood, Withee, Owen, Spencer, Unity, Colby, Curtiss, Abbotsford, Dorchester, Stetsonville, Medford, Stratford, Rozellville, Hewitt, Auburndale, Blenker, Milladore, Sherry, and Arpin. It also includes, of course, the towns and rural areas between these communities.

How did this come to be?

From the beginning, this Foundation was intended to serve an area larger than the City of Marshfield. Our name, our mission, and all of our publications, news releases, and other communications refer to the "Marshfield Area."

But just what is that area? Our Declaration of Trust is vague on the subject of geography, stating only that the purpose of MACF is to benefit "…residents of the City of Marshfield, its surrounding area and vicinity as designated from time to time by the Marshfield Area Community Foundation Board, and other areas included in gifts or bequests accepted by the Board."

However, it is not enough to state that we serve Marshfield and the surrounding area. For one thing, Standard I of the National Standards states, "A community foundation is a tax-exempt…institution… established…for the broad-based charitable benefit of the residents of a defined geographic area, typically no larger than a state." The key word is "defined." In seeking to be in compliance with National Standards, then, one of our responsibilities was to more precisely define that geographic service area.

In addition, all community foundations work hard to build and maintain a mutually supportive relationship. One essential component of that relationship is respect for each other’s boundaries. Central Wisconsin is also served by the Community Foundation of North Central Wisconsin, based in Wausau, and the Community Foundation of South Wood County, based in Wisconsin Rapids. Our nearest neighbor to the west is the Eau Claire Area Community Foundation. One of our first concerns, then, was to avoid encroaching upon the already established service areas of our neighbors and to honor previous understandings with them regarding those boundaries.

Another primary concern, of course, was to define our service area so that it would include, as much as possible, those nearby communities for which Marshfield constitutes their business, cultural, educational, or philanthropic center or, as some say, Marshfield’s "area of influence."

It would be convenient if we could use existing political boundaries to guide us, but with Marshfield straddling the Wood and Marathon County lines, its close proximity to Clark County and with another community foundation established in the southern end of Wood County, those boundaries are not particularly helpful. Also, there is a vast area to the north in which there are no community foundations.

Representatives of the Marshfield Area Community Foundation met with representatives of the Community Foundation of North Central Wisconsin in June of 2002. Although the Wausau foundation claims to serve all of Marathon County, their representatives conceded that our desire to serve Spencer and Stratford was reasonable, given the proximity of the communities to Marshfield. We agreed, however, that if donors from those communities contacted either foundation, we would give them the option of working with the foundation of their choice.

Pittsville is about equidistant between Marshfield and Wisconsin Rapids, and so we had conversations with the staff of the Community Foundation of South Wood County regarding that community. They made a strong case for Pittsville being within their service area, given their history of foundation service to that community, a point which we conceded. However, we agreed that if donors were determined to work with the Marshfield Area Community Foundation, we would honor their desire. We also corresponded with The Eau Claire Area Community Foundation on the subject.

To determine Marshfield’s "area of influence," we obtained distribution and circulation data from the Marshfield News-Herald. The News-Herald distributes papers in a highly irregular area stretching from Rib Lake in the north to Pittsville in the south, from Thorp and Willard in the west to Marathon City in the east.

We also talked to the Marshfield Area Habitat for Humanity. They define their target area as, "…a largely agricultural, rural area which includes the communities of Pittsville, Arpin, Auburndale, Hewitt, Marshfield, Rozellville, Spencer and Stratford." Habitat for Humanity also has chapters in Wausau and Wisconsin Rapids.

Some of our existing funds specify which communities are eligible for grants. The Louis J. and Betty Ptacek Scholarship Fund states that applicants must reside "…within a 15 mile radius of the city of Marshfield. The communities included in that area are: Arpin, Auburndale, Blenker, Chili, Granton, Hewitt, Marshfield, Pittsville, Spencer, Stratford, Unity, and Vesper." The stated purpose of the Floyd and Pat Hamus Fund is to support community projects in Marshfield, Auburndale, or Stratford.

Given all of the this information, the Board of Trustees of the Marshfield Area Community Foundation, in July of 2003, made and approved a motion to define the geographic service area of MACF as described above.