Community Orgs Nonprofits

Give Chippewa County Giving Circle Fosters Philanthropy at All Ages

generosity toward local nonprofits grows, bit by bit

Tom Giffey, photos by Andrea Paulseth |

MAKING CHANGE: Building homes for Hope Village, a Give Chippewa County recipient.
MAKING CHANGE. Hope Village, which has received grant funds from Give Chippewa County, creates tiny homes for formerly unhoused people.

Philanthropy can be an intimidating concept, one that may seem to be the domain of only those capable of writing million-dollar checks. In Chippewa County, however, a new group is aimed at showing people – especially young people – that philanthropy can start small and pay big dividends for the community.

Give Chippewa County was created about two years ago as part of the Community Foundation of Chippewa County, and since then has grown to about 100 members and amassed tens of thousands of dollars to benefit nonprofits around the county.

“We really want to share the idea of philanthropy with people young and old,” said Patti Darley, a member of several Give Chippewa County committees. “We wanted to let people have a voice in where funds go, let people learn about the needs in our community and what they can do to help.”

The organization was partly inspired by the Women’s Giving Circle, a fund created in 2007 by the Eau Claire Community Foundation, although Give Chippewa County is open to anyone, and most members are couples.

Give Chippewa County has two primary goals: making grants to worthy local nonprofits and creating an endowed fund that the foundation will oversee for the future. Membership is open to anyone who gives $250 annually, a contribution that can be paid in 12 monthly installments.

“You start getting the taste of what giving is,” explained Matthew White, chairman of Give Chippewa County. “You start feeling better yourself, because you’re part of something special and big.”

“You start getting the taste of what giving is,” explained Matthew White, chairman of Give Chippewa County. “You start feeling better yourself because you’re part of something special and big.”

In addition to learning about the needs of the community, participating in Give Chippewa County allows younger members to meet and learn from more experienced donors and leaders, White added.

In just a few years, Give Chippewa County’s endowment has grown to over $50,000, with an additional $17,000 in a pass-through fund used for grants and overhead expenses.

Grants from Give Chippewa County are used to support local charitable groups in a variety of realms, including arts and culture, community development, education, environment and animal welfare, and health and human services, said Jaynee Brannen, a member of the development and marketing committees.

Nonprofits may apply for grants during the next funding cycle, which runs July 1-25. Applications are winnowed down by a committee to five organizations with worthy projects. Next, members vote online, and the top three nonprofits receive grants.

Grant winners are announced each year in September at an event that also features the previous year’s winners, who speak about what they have done with the funding they received.

“That opportunity in itself is very eye-opening,” Brannen said. “You learn more about our community and our county and the needs that we have.”

Past recipients include a hydroponics program at Holcombe schools, a food pantry in the Bloomer and New Auburn area, a backpack program for kids in Cadott, and Hope Village, a tiny home development in Chippewa Falls.

In addition to the grant celebration, Give Chippewa County hosts quarterly social events, which are meant to allow members and potential members to mingle in a relaxed environment such as the Leinie Lodge.

Ultimately, most people would like to give back to their communities, White said. “The question is when, and the answer doesn’t have to be 20 years from now when we’re close to retirement, or when we have our debt paid off,” he added. “The answer can be we can start now, and all the benefits of giving can start now.”

Learn more about Give Chippewa County by visiting You can also find them on Facebook and Instagram. The group will be holding a social for interested members of the public at 5:30pm Thursday, May 18, at the Leinie Lodge, 124 E. Elm St., Chippewa Falls. They have also planned a grant celebration at 5:30pm on Wednesday, Sept. 6, at White’s Wildwood Retreat, 18059 County Highway OO, Chippewa Falls.

Best of Chippewa Falls is brought to you by:

Mason Companies, Inc
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Best of Chippewa Falls is brought to you by:

Mason Companies, Inc
Northwestern Bank