Here's What You Missed – A Glimpse Inside the Minds of Wisconsin Grantmakers

Cover of Wisconsin Philanthropy Networks 2018 "Wisconsin Gives Report"An in-depth look at the culture of philanthropy

More than 100 members and guests joined us February 28 to peer Inside the Minds of Wisconsin Grantmakers to learn about giving trends and issues that matter most to funders across the state.

Tony Shields and Caty Bulgrin of the Wisconsin Philanthropy Network (WPN) presented highlights of the 2018 Wisconsin Gives Report. This report is a biennial, in-depth look at the culture of philanthropy in Wisconsin and throughout the U.S. WPN surveyed 377 grantmakers across Wisconsin with a 24% response rate.

Report highlights included:

  • Total estimated charitable giving in the U.S. rose 5.2% between 2016 and 2017 (3.0%, adjusted for inflation), to $410.02 billion.
  • 56% of respondents planned on increasing their grantmaking in 2018
  • 26% planned to increase general operating support
  • 78.2% planned to increase partnerships or collaborations

Grantmakers’ primary concerns about issues potentially affecting the health of Wisconsin’s nonprofit sector included decreases in public funding, increased demand for services and reduced government funding.

The detailed report can be found at  AFP of Southeastern Wisconsin is proud to have sponsored this report and is pleased to continue our partnership with WPN.

The presentation was followed by a panel discussion, providing an opportunity to hear directly from funders themselves. Panelists included Julie Bauer with Alliant Energy Foundation, Shelli Marquardt with Waukesha County Community Foundation and Mike Murphy with Kaztex Foundation.

AFP Member Prudence Precourt, PhD, CFRE, Advocate Aurora Health Research Institute Grant Specialist, Sponsored Programs Office, moderated the panel discussion with questions provided by the AFP Grant Writer’s Special Interest Group as well as from the audience.

Topics included what sets apart a proposal that receives funding from those that don’t, the best way and time to approach a funder for general operating support, how to most effectively steward a funder and many others.

Some answers varied but there was a common theme to many of their responses. It is important to do your research to ensure funding proposals match the funder’s criteria (geography, mission, etc). Additionally, communication and relationship building were seen as key components to success. Pick up the phone and speak directly with funders so they can get to know you and your organization, its reputation and track record.   

Interested in discussing the Wisconsin Gives Report with other grantseekers? Plan to attend the next Grant Writer’s SIG on Tuesday, March 19. For more information, contact

Have a topic idea for future professional development opportunities?  Contact Julie Cordero from the AFPSEWI Education Committee at