The Face of Philanthropy in Madison

–submitted by Mary Borland; photo by Donna Beestman

Bob Sorge 8 30 17

From left: Neil Dinndorf; Bob Sorge, President Donna Hurd & Nasra Wehelie

On Wednesday, August 30, at the Park Hotel, fellow Rotarian and past club president (2005-06) Bob Sorge, spoke about trends in philanthropy at national, state and local levels; a few faces who have shaped our community through philanthropy; and the Madison Community Foundation’s 75th anniversary.

Community foundations are grant-making public charities dedicated to improving the lives of people in a defined local geographic area.  They bring together financial resources of individuals, families and businesses to support effective nonprofits in their communities.

The Madison Community Foundation (MCF) was established in 1942 and has $218M in assets. MCF grants $10M annually and has granted $200M over 25 years!  MCF consists of 631 Fundholders and 1,074 funds.

Philanthropy is really the idea of nurturing and the MCF nurtures Madison, Wisconsin. John F. Kennedy said that philanthropy is “…a jewel of an American tradition.”   Dane County residents are fortunate to have several large philanthropists contributing to our quality of life via the arts, community development, the environment, learning and via organizational capacity.  These five areas make up the MCF’s Impact Focus areas.

American’s provide $390B in donations across the country!  Millennials are donating more than Baby Boomers and significantly more than Generation Xers.  Here in Wisconsin, we rank 44th among other states in our overall giving, meaning we donate on average, about 3.4% of our discretionary income to charity.  On the upside, Wisconsin ranks 9th among states in being willing to help someone in need.

Bob spoke about some of the area’s philanthropists, including the Goodman Brothers whom lived frugally and gave big!

The MFC has provided grants over the years and continues to do so to increase the quality of life for residents of Dane County. Rotarians are exceptionally generous, giving over $220M across the globe.

We wish MFC a happy 75th anniversary.  You can learn more about MFC at

If you missed our meeting this week, you can watch the video here.

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