On Philanthropy: Combo Campaigns Crowdsource Community

image of four row boats tied together in the waterContributed by AFP SEWI
Milwaukee Business Journal
May 12, 2017 issue

Every nonprofit raises funds to pursue its mission.  And then there are nonprofits for which fundraising IS the mission.

The impact of these organizations goes far beyond the charitable funds they channel to area nonprofits. Because they are so high-profile, intermediaries like United Way, Greater Milwaukee Foundation, United Performing Arts Fund (UPAF), Community Shares, the Greater Milwaukee Committee, Cream City Foundation, and others constantly build our community’s awareness of charitable giving in general.

Think about it.  When you hear about UPAF’s latest successful campaign, your underlying takeaway is “Wow, Milwaukeeans really support the arts.”  Seeing giving as trendy greatly increases the chance you’ll join in -- with your own gift to UPAF, to one of its performing arts organizations, or indeed any nonprofit.

That’s why these intermediary fundraising organizations act as “force multipliers” for philanthropy – they don’t just float specific boats, they create that proverbial rising tide that every community thrives on.

“A combined giving organization like UPAF provides a one-stop, efficient way to contribute to the performing arts,” says Deanna Tillisch, UPAF’s president and CEO.  “And because we’ve earned Charity Navigator’s highest rating, we provide donors the added peace of mind that their dollars will be used effectively.”

Every year, annual campaigns like United Way’s or UPAF’s sustain the health of human service and arts organizations.  Some donors also take the long view.  “Greater Milwaukee Foundation and other community foundations provide donors a place to invest to address pressing issues now and in the future.  Both legacy gifts and fund investments that let donors see the results of their generosity during their lifetime are vital to a strong community,” says Ellen Gilligan, president and CEO of Greater Milwaukee Foundation.

When people know that thousands of their peers find giving rewarding, it’s not just good for nonprofits.  High-profile philanthropy builds everyone’s sense of Milwaukee as a caring community – the kind of place we all want to live, work and invest in.

AFP’s monthly column in the Milwaukee Business Journal is edited by Doug Diefenbach, principal of Diefenbach Communications Strategies, a full-service consultancy specializing in philanthropic communications. Please contribute ideas for future articles here.