MCF Supports Statewide Tax Credit to Keep Donor Dollars in Wisconsin

Wisconsin Philanthropy Network is spearheading Endow Wisconsin, an exciting initiative designed to enhance individual and corporate support at each of Wisconsin’s 19 nationally accredited community foundations, including Madison Community Foundation, which serves Dane County and communities throughout the region. 

At Aldo Leopold Nature Center, the Wonder Bugs preschool program blends outdoor adventure with learning and school readiness.

Proposed as a tax credit, Endow Wisconsin encourages donors to keep dollars in Wisconsin by providing a valuable incentive for Wisconsinites to share a portion of their hard-earned assets with their hometown communities. Adoption of the tax credit has the potential to raise significant dollars for use in Wisconsin while requiring only a modest investment from the state.

Why does Wisconsin need to incentivize its residents to give? The snowbird effect is real: Demographic shifts can result in assets being channeled to other states rather than used to strengthen our state’s hometowns and neighborhoods. And, according to Wealth in Wisconsin1, a transfer of wealth study, approximately $687 billion is projected to pass from one generation of Wisconsinites to the next. Keeping a portion of this wealth in Wisconsin through a powerful tax credit incentive presents a unique opportunity to grow assets that will enhance our communities.

“Generous people who live in Wisconsin will have the opportunity through the tax credit to donate to an endowment at a certified community foundation, receive a 25% tax credit on their Wisconsin taxes for their gift, and have the satisfaction of knowing their gift supports important causes and organizations that make our communities great,” stated Jill Van Calster, President and CEO of Wisconsin Philanthropy Network.

“Wisconsin’s community foundations are one of our state’s best-kept secrets,” said Bob Sorge, Madison Community Foundation President. “At Madison Community Foundation we strive to make the Madison area a vibrant and generous place where people help each other thrive today, tomorrow and for generations to come.” 

Community foundations achieve National Standards for U.S. Community Foundations accreditation when they demonstrate adherence to best practices and effectiveness. “It is a rigorous process, as well as a point of pride of the 19 that have earned this distinction in Wisconsin,” said Van Calster. “Donors can trust in these foundations to deliver with integrity.”

Mirrored after the success of similar programs in other states – most notably Iowa – this is one of the most exciting opportunities ever created to build community foundation endowments, which in turn, strengthen the nonprofits in our communities. Since its inception in 2003, the Endow Iowa tax credit has leveraged $191,585,801 in support of its statewide nonprofits through contributions made to permanent endowments at their community foundations.

Other successfully endowed states include North Dakota and Kentucky, while legislation has been proposed in other Midwestern states including Minnesota, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois.

“The introduction of this powerful tax credit presents a unique opportunity to inspire giving and strengthen our community as a place where people live, work and play,” Sorge said.

Endowments fuel jobs, housing, food systems, cultural centers, youth programs and a myriad of essential services that make Wisconsin communities great. They also support the institutions and nonprofits that give our residents an excellent quality of life.

“Philanthropy is a great thing,” states Van Calster.  “But philanthropy that pays the donor back is even better.”

A video of Endow Wisconsin is available to view, share, or download at https://vimeo.com/204109141.

1 http://wiphilanthropy.wpengine.com/wp-content/uploads/21._Transfer_of_Wealth_report--Wisconsin.pdf