Dane County is a hub of philanthropy in Wisconsin because of a few key factors. It’s home to the capital city of Madison, it has the second-largest population among Wisconsin counties, and it has the third-highest per capita income in the state. Meanwhile, there are over 4,000 nonprofits that call this county home. The Madison Community Foundation is a driving philanthropic force here, but there are also smaller, targeted funders setting an example for local donors to give back to the community.
One example is the Endres Manufacturing Company Foundation (EMCF), which has a well-established philanthropy program and has given more than $2.5 million to local groups in its 20-year history. Endres Manufacturing is a steel manufacturing company based in Waunakee, Wisconsin. It’s a local family business that produces piers and shoreline equipment and that even hosts a group of resident goats on its property to entertain kids and remind employees of the company’s Bavarian German heritage.
For its spring 2019 grant cycle, the company foundation received 36 grant requests and funded 28 local agencies. Endres has long-standing relationships with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Dane County and the Dane County Cultural Affairs Commission. But in addition to those two big commitments, lots of other local groups have been seeing grants in the $1,000 to $5,000 range lately. Other organizations receiving grants include Capital City Theater, Simpson Street Free Press, and the Waunakee Police Department.
Notably, EMCF occasionally gives nonprofits half of their requested amounts to promote a matching donation from other donors. This was the outcome for the Waunakee Fire Department’s $7,220 request for search and rescue equipment and the Waunakee Warrior team’s $12,500 request for its soccer stadium.
EMCF has two grant cycles per year, in May and November, and on rarer occasions, it will give grants up to $25,000. It has existed as the philanthropic arm of the company since 1996 and is open to funding pretty much any type of program that impacts the local community and its employees. Traditionally, about 40 percent of funds support programs for children and families, 25 percent for education, 25 percent for arts and culture, and 10 percent for the environment. Grants commonly fund agencies with annual budgets between $4 million and $5 million.
Overall, this is one of the most accessible corporate funders in the region and a good one to know for nonprofits that work in all community-focused sectors.