Wausau Pilot & Review

Editor’s note: Business of the Week is a sponsored feature that shares the stories of locally-owned and operated businesses in the Wausau area, highlighting the products and services they offer and the ways they contribute to the metro area’s unique flavor. Learn how to feature your business by emailing christina@wausaupilotandreview.com.

This week’s featured Wausau business is an organization that connects people, passion and resources for maximum local impact – The Community Foundation of North Central Wisconsin. Led by President and CEO Tim Parker, the Foundation has a clear mission: to enhance the quality of life for the people of north central Wisconsin. The organization acts as a catalyst to design programs and identify issues in collaboration with other foundations, corporations, organizations and communities, while responsibly managing philanthropic assets. The leadership team includes Karla Lodhoz, director of donor services, a donor’s first connection to establishing a fund as a way to fulfill their philanthropic wishes and give back to the community. Program officer Sue Nelson is another key leader, with 33 years of experience in managing grants and strengthening nonprofits. Together, they engage in creative, sensitive grant making to enrich the communities they serve – with a special emphasis on education, the arts, health and human services, and the preservation of historical, cultural and natural resources. Simply put, the Community Foundation of North Central Wisconsin provides people with a variety of easy, secure, and effective ways to “give back” to their communities, strengthening every aspect of life in our area for generations to come. Here is their story.

Q: When was the organization established?

A: On January 22, 1987, the Wausau Area Community Foundation was formed by a group of visionary individuals in the community (including names like John Ullrich, Stan Staples, Dwight Davis, Bart Kellnhauser, Don Grade, Jim Lundberg, Mac McCormick, and Caroline Mark) who realized there was a need to build an endowment for the maintenance, enhancement, and enrichment of the greater Wausau area and Marathon County. The Foundation’s purpose is to connect the passions of people who want to give with the needs of nonprofits for local community impact.

Since its inception, the geographic reach of the Foundation’s work has expanded to communities beyond Marathon County – like Merrill, Antigo, Minocqua, Boulder Junction, and Three Lakes. The name of the Foundation was changed to the Community Foundation of North Central Wisconsin, to more adequately reflect the donors we serve.  

With 35-years’ experience, the Community Foundation leads and inspires philanthropy to enhance the quality of life for generations to come. The Community Foundation currently has over $85 million in assets and prudently manages 431 different funds. Through its commitment to excellence in donor investment, the Foundation received $6.3 million from donors in 2021 and distributed more than $7.4 million to support nonprofits throughout our area.

Q: What makes the Community Foundation unique?

A: The community foundation field is one of the fastest-growing philanthropic sectors in the United States. Community foundations build and strengthen communities in a multitude of ways, including providing the means for a wide range of donors to create funds to meet critical needs. Though the first community foundation was launched over 100 years ago in Cleveland, Ohio, today there are more than 750 community foundations in the United States.

Through professional management of donated assets, the Community Foundation is built to last and to be a permanent force in north central Wisconsin. This assures stability and longevity, and that all donations and funds will be used as the donor intended.

The Community Foundation, as its name indicates, is a foundation for the community – or the community savings account. Assets totaling more than $85 million have been built up over time though donations from many sources – individuals, corporations, and foundations. The Community Foundation allows anyone to be a donor. Through the generosity of our donors, we support programs and organizations that enhance every aspect of life in our area for generations to come. Earnings are used to support projects and programs, like the 400 Block, the Riverfront development, JoJo’s Jungle, and many more that make this a more vibrant and livable community. 

In addition to being a funding resource, the Community Foundation is a leader in our nonprofit sector. A healthy nonprofit sector is essential to building a vibrant and livable community. The Community Foundation is committed to supporting our nonprofit sector by providing information and educational resources, opportunities to network with each other, and financial support for their important work.

Q: As an organization, what are you most proud of accomplishing? 

The Community Foundation prides itself in being a community connector. We are proud that in 35 years, the Community Foundation has granted more than $89 million total to charitable organizations in Marathon County and beyond. 

Q: Has anything changed since the Foundation was established?

A: The mission of the Community Foundation has not changed over time – we continue to play a role in enhancing the quality of life in our area. Our strength as a Community Foundation reflects in our ability to adapt to the needs of the community as they arise through our funding sources. Our donors are a true reflection of the community and we are thankful to them for meeting relevant and pressing needs.  

In the Community Foundation’s first year of disbursements, we granted $82,000. In 2021 that number has escalated to $7.4 million – we can only go up from there through the generosity of our donors.

Q: What are your hopes and dreams for the future? Where do you see the Foundation headed?

A: Our vision is to be seen as a leader in north central Wisconsin to identify and support community needs. We are positioned to help individuals and businesses understand where philanthropy can create the best impact to make north central Wisconsin the best place to visit and live. We will continue to help donors know where their gifts can be directed and to prepare nonprofits in the region to optimize their impact.  

In the next year, we on a path for $100 million in managed assets and up to $10 million in annual distribution of grants. We see this as an exciting milestone for our 35th year in operation.

Over the next 5-10 years, we intend to increase awareness of what a community foundation can do for the community. As people in the region become more aware of our work, we expect accelerated growth both within and beyond Marathon County.  

Connect with the Community Foundation of North Central Wisconsin

  • Address: 500 1st St. Suite 2600, Wausau, WI 54403
  • Phone: 715-845-9555
  • Online at CFONCW.org | www.facebook.com/CFONCW