Philanthropy your way

Giving to and through a community foundation offers tremendous flexibility for donors, ensuring that their charitable investments meet their needs as well as the community’s. At the Greater Milwaukee Foundation, donors can choose from a range of fund types and giving opportunities that match their goals and preferences.

Individual and family philanthropy

Individuals and families can establish their own philanthropic fund that meets their needs and interests. Each option has unique characteristics and benefits to consider.

Fund type




You support your favorite nonprofits on an annual basis.

A designated fund allows you to directly support the nonprofits listed in your gift agreement. We distribute grants annually based on your fund’s available grant dollars. 

Donor advised 

You direct your grantmaking while tapping into Foundation expertise, resources and careful stewardship of your assets.

A donor advised fund can be a low-cost alternative to a private foundation or a complement to an existing foundation. You may use the fund as your primary philanthropic vehicle, recommending grants at your discretion and working with staff on funding opportunities. You may have the option to name successor generations as fund advisers under certain conditions or you can designate our Board to decide where grants should be made to respond to the area’s greatest needs.  

Field of interest 

You support evolving community needs and a variety of nonprofits focused on your preferred area of interest.

A field of interest fund allows you to support the causes you are most passionate about – from arts and culture and education to racial equity and inclusion and more – the choice is yours. You can rely on our staff’s expertise, which is based on data, community insights and greatest community needs, to select effective nonprofits working in those areas. 

Flexible funds 

You give the Foundation’s Board discretion over where grants are made.

The Board relies on the Foundation’s history and knowledge to address the most pressing and changing needs within Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Waukesha and Washington counties. Our community impact team and volunteers manage these funds’ grantmaking based on data, community insights and greatest community needs. Funds are added to our Community Grant Fund or distributed through your named fund. 


You help students pursue their educational dreams.

With a scholarship fund, you can support educational opportunities for tomorrow’s leaders. You may specify an area of study, geographic area, academic or financial requirement. Scholarships can provide one-time or multi-year support.  


Planned giving and bequests

Through planned gifts and bequests, individuals and families can leave a permanent legacy while supporting the greatest needs and opportunities of our region, and the nonprofits making a difference. 

Gift type




You name the Foundation as a beneficiary of your estate plan or other assets.

You create a lasting legacy to maximize tax benefits and impact our community for generations to come by supporting the greatest needs and opportunities of our region, specific interest area, or nonprofits you care about. Examples include naming the Foundation as a beneficiary in a will or revocable trust, or of an IRA or other retirement plan (401k, 403b).

Planned giving

You establish a planned gift to accomplish your personal, financial and philanthropic goals.

Through planned gifts and bequests, individuals and families can leave a permanent legacy while supporting the greatest needs and opportunities of our region, and the nonprofits making a difference. Vehicle types include a will or trust, retirement assets, life insurance, charitable remainder trust, charitable lead trust and/or complex assets.



Organizational Philanthropy

Corporations, nonprofits and community partners can establish endowed funds or supporting organizations to achieve sustained philanthropic impact while the Foundation manages the administrative responsibilities. 

Fund type



Agency endowments

You create a permanently endowed or quasi-endowed fund for your nonprofit that provides a quarterly distribution.

You invest your agency’s financial reserves with the Foundation and take advantage of our best-in-class investment managers and competitive investment returns while avoiding administrative overhead.


Corporate funds 

You establish a fund that offers your company a strategic giving program aligned with your business goals.

You take a more proactive and strategic approach to philanthropy while simplifying the administration of giving and deepening employee engagement.

Private foundations

You transition your private foundation to a Greater Milwaukee Foundation philanthropic fund.

The Foundation handles all the investment and administrative details your foundation used to handle, allowing you to focus on strategically supporting the causes most important to you.

Supporting organizations 

Your group creates a 501(c)(3) entity affiliated with the Foundation with a separate governing board of directors.

Your group or family can operate independently like a private foundation, maintaining its own board, while the Foundation handles all investment and administrative details, including related tax matters. Your board may choose one of the Foundation’s investment pools or maintain a separate portfolio with an investment manager of its choice. 




This strategic approach allows donors to align their giving with Foundation investments and those of other philanthropists to strengthen the region and address community priorities together through innovative solutions and the power of the collective. 




Priority funds 

You and other donors support community priorities by funding projects and programs.

You amplify the impact of your philanthropy by uniting your grant dollars with those of the Foundation and other donors to support new projects or innovative programs focused on the region’s greatest challenges.

Established funds

Everyone is welcome to donate to one or more of the Foundation’s strategic priority and specialty funds 

Anyone with a credit card can give to an established fund. This method allows individuals to make a one-time or recurring donation without establishing a fund themselves. Donors or fund advisers may also contribute to these funds and support the community’s greatest needs.

Impact investing

You use your charitable assets to invest in economic vitality projects that can generate revenue that is then reinvested in additional projects to benefit the community.

You invest in places and opportunities where funding has been inadequate and racial inequities have stifled potential. Impact investments help address social needs, create jobs, build wealth and expand opportunity.


Become a Donor

Get connected to the greater Milwaukee community and help strengthen a permanent resource that is built to address the issues of tomorrow as well as today.

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