Foundation raises over $726 million in Greater Together Campaign, unites community around investment in lasting change

Milwaukee, Wis., Feb. 9, 2024 – Created to cultivate the resources and partnerships essential for building a Milwaukee for all, the Greater Milwaukee Foundation’s Greater Together Campaign exceeded its ambitious $700 million fundraising goal, leaders announced today.

Spanning seven years, and concluding Dec. 31, 2023, the Foundation’s first campaign was historic, marking also the first comprehensive and priority-focused campaign for a community foundation nationally. It encouraged giving across all charitable interests while also emphasizing key priorities for community impact and intentionally inviting everyone to be a philanthropist.

In all, the campaign raised $726.8 million, with over 4,800 donors contributing at some level.

“The results of this campaign affirm the community supports the Foundation’s vision of a Milwaukee for all. Transformational impact is only possible together, and by welcoming all people and communities to see themselves in philanthropy, we are helping generate a movement toward greater collaboration and the long-term solutions Milwaukee needs,” said Ellen Gilligan, Foundation president and CEO. “We are filled with gratitude for the many ways our donors and partners throughout the region have been generous.”

Stewarding generosity and strengthening leadership

The Greater Together Campaign introduced new and innovative approaches to engaging and investing in a better Milwaukee. In addition to inviting donors to give according to their personal passions, the Foundation offered distinct opportunities to coinvest in five funding priorities, driven by key community outcomes and aligned with the Foundation’s North Star of racial equity and inclusion.

Identified through data and community voice, these priorities – early childhood care and education, housing, impact investing, flexible funding and the ThriveOn Collaboration – drew $35.6 million in philanthropy during the campaign. This accessible and collaborative way for donors to make an impact on Milwaukee’s greatest needs, coupled with traditional giving, enables the Foundation to continue enhancing quality of life throughout the region while also addressing systemic racial disparities that have inhibited lives and livelihoods throughout Milwaukee’s Black and Brown communities. 

Support for campaign priorities is already having an impact on community outcomes that are fundamental to a Milwaukee for all, including educational opportunity, health equity, economic opportunity and housing security. For example, the ThriveOn Collaboration received private donations of $8.5 million through the campaign. These coinvestments, alongside partners Medical College of Wisconsin and Royal Capital, are contributing to redeveloping the historic Gimbels-Schuster’s building into a catalytic community hub and augmenting continued efforts to revitalize Milwaukee’s Bronzeville district.

Through such infusion of new resources and partnerships, the campaign is playing a key role in fueling the Foundation’s deep, ongoing leadership on community issues and solutions. Foundation leaders view the campaign’s conclusion not as a finale, but a springboard. The community outcomes receiving focus now remain critical to the wellbeing of people throughout the region, so the Foundation will continue to seek support for their advancement. 

“From our priority-driven model to our inclusive invitation to join our table, the Foundation’s reimagined approach to philanthropy in this campaign has resonated strongly with our partners and the people we serve,” said Cecelia Gore, Foundation Board member and campaign co-chair. “Reaching our comprehensive campaign goal despite the tremendous economic and social toll of the pandemic is a remarkable testament to the generosity in our community and donors’ commitment to our collective future.” 

Community philanthropy takes many forms

With gifts ranging in size from $5.00 to $20 million, the campaign demonstrated how philanthropy is for everyone. By responding to opportunities for coinvestment, donors who traditionally are underrepresented in philanthropy, such as younger donors and donors of color, were able to align their giving to drive greater impact. The Foundation also recognized community members who offered not just treasure, but time, talent and ties to support its strategic direction of a Milwaukee for all. 

Through the campaign:

  • Over 3,000 new donors began partnering with the Foundation, representing a diverse array of ages and backgrounds
  • Over 1,000 donors coinvested with the Foundation in priority areas through a new gift or grant
  • Over 340 new philanthropic funds were created at the Foundation
  • Over 115 legacy promises were established, including estate and other planned gifts

“There is no other organization quite like the Greater Milwaukee Foundation, with the permanence and vision to focus on the actual root causes of community challenges,” said Paul Jones, Foundation Board president. “Those who join us in partnership know that our unique role as a community foundation with over a century of collective experience means that we have the fortitude and the perspective to see long-term solutions all the way through. This campaign is concluding, but our efforts to support the community have no end in sight.”

About the Greater Milwaukee Foundation

The Greater Milwaukee Foundation is Wisconsin’s largest community foundation and was among the first established in the world. For more than a century, the Foundation has been at the heart of the civic community, helping donors achieve the greatest philanthropic impact, elevating the work of changemakers across neighborhoods, and bringing people and organizations together to help our region thrive. Racial equity is the Foundation’s North Star, guiding its investments and strategies for social and economic change. Leveraging generations of community knowledge, cross-sector partnerships and more than $1 billion in financial assets, the Foundation is committed to reimagining philanthropy, catalyzing systems change, convening and following community voice, and building inclusive culture to transform our region into a Milwaukee for all.

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