Waukesha County Community Foundation logo


Our Mission

Through our permanent endowment funds, project funds and grants, the Waukesha County Community Foundation meets local challenges and improves the quality of life in our community.

Our Vision

We build a strong Waukesha County through…  
  • Collaboration – bringing individuals and organizations together to promote meaningful connections.
  • Education – listening, learning, and sharing information about community needs and effective ways to give.
  • Philanthropic Investment – enhancing the power of donors and fund advisors for impactful solutions.
  • What is a community foundation?

    A community foundation is a tax-exempt charitable organization created by and for a community of people. They are recognized by the IRS as public charities since they receive support from the general public and their boards largely represent the areas served. 

    At the Waukesha County Community Foundation (WCCF) we share the common mission of every community foundation — to enhance the quality of life in the local area. As our name indicates, the WCCF’s efforts are centered on Waukesha County. We are able to execute our mission of meeting local challenges and improving the quality of life in our community by building permanent endowment funds and supporting a variety of local non-profit organizations through grants.

    In addition to our own grant programs, the Waukesha County Community Foundation manages and administers a variety of other charitable funds. Learn more about the funds offered here.

    Community Foundations Have 3 Special Features:

    Personalized Service

    We aim to ensure donors and fund advisors receive the support they need to accomplish their philanthropic goals. Our team works to customize giving approaches to match donors' personal interests, economic situation, and individual tax planning needs.

    Local Expertise

    We provide insight into the issues and opportunities within our geographic region. With our deep understanding and knowledge of organizations specific to Waukesha County, our staff can provide personalized nonprofit recommendations that align with donors' interest areas.

    Community Leadership

    Our organization is governed by a volunteer Board of Directors and dedicated staff members with strong ties to Waukesha County. We hold ourselves accountable to industry best practices and operate in compliance with the Community Foundations National Standards.

    Community Foundation FAQs

    We hope to answer all of your questions about community foundations and what we do! Please feel free to contact us at 262-513-1861 for any further questions you may have or to learn more about creating a fund at the Waukesha County Community Foundation. 

    How do community foundations differ from private foundations?

    A community foundation is supported by a far-reaching and ever-widening group of unrelated individuals, families, corporations and institutions. The only thing that connects all of our donors is a desire to improve local communities. Because of the broad base of support, community foundations are classified as publicly-supported charities. This gives community foundations tax advantages not enjoyed by private foundations.

    Community foundations are also allowed to treat all funds within their control as part of a single corporation. This gives them administrative and investment advantages over private foundations as well. Private foundations, by contrast, are generally supported by a single individual, family, or business, and are subjected to tax and legal requirements.

    How do community foundations differ from other charitable organizations?

    Most nonprofit organizations have a specific mission. By contrast, a community foundation’s mission is very general: to improve the quality of life in a given area. This wide scope of mission reflects our ability to make grants in any field of interest with a charitable benefit to local communities.

    This flexibility allows us to serve a broader group of potential donors as well as support a widespread group of nonprofit organizations, whom we consider our partners, in improving our local communities.

    Area nonprofits benefit from having a local community foundation because the community foundation helps money stay in the community. Community foundations benefit local nonprofits in other ways too. Besides having local grant money available, some nonprofits ask the community foundation to manage an endowment on their own behalf. We call these “agency funds” but they are also known as “organizational endowment funds.”

    Why do people give through community foundations?

    Community foundations work with individuals, families, businesses, and nonprofits to make giving back to the community easier, more effective, and more enjoyable. Setting up a charitable fund at the Waukesha County Community Foundation is an easy way to make your charitable giving efficient and help you achieve your philanthropic goals. 

    How many community foundations are there?

    The Cleveland Foundation was the first community foundation in the U.S.. It was founded in 1914 by banker and lawyer Frederick H. Goff.

    The Cleveland Foundation was an entirely new concept in philanthropy. Captains of business and industry such as John D. Rockefeller and Andrew Carnegie had conceived of creating private foundations to channel their immense wealth into philanthropic activities. Goff envisioned an alternative mechanism for ensuring the honorable and productive use of monies. Endowing such a foundation was a simple and affordable way for individuals of modest to comfortable means to leave a charitable legacy.

    The model has since been replicated across the country and beyond. Today, there are more than 800 community foundations across the United States!

    Frederick Harris Goff, humanitarian, 1858‒1923