The second annual Big Share™—the area’s local online giving day—raised over $263,000 from more than 2,000 donors in 24 hours on March 1. A total of 70 nonprofits were part of the collaborative fundraiser, hosted by Community Shares of Wisconsin (CSW) for its member nonprofits. Wisconsin Council on Children and Families holds the top-earning spot this year, raising over $11,000. Others at the top of the list included Wisconsin Literacy, Wisconsin Alliance for Women’s Health, and Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters Institute.

“It’s phenomenal that together we raised over one-quarter of a million dollars in a single day for nonprofits working for social and environmental justice,” said CSW Executive Director Crystel Anders. “We’re gratified to see such a positive—and generous—response. We feel lucky to live in such a great community where people are committed to creating change at the grassroots level.”

As lead sponsor, Madison Community Foundation (MCF) helped underwrite CSW’s costs to produce the giving day, ultimately helping raise more funds for participating nonprofits. “Connecting people with the causes they care about most is what The Big Share is all about,” said Bob Sorge, President of MCF. “The buzz on social media, combined with the energy and excitement at events throughout the day, were truly impressive and inspiring.”

MCF also matched the $14,000 worth of Big Share funds that CSW groups added to their endowments housed at MCF—for a total of $28,000 put into endowments for the future of these nonprofits.

Anders noted that online giving, prompted by social media, is a good way to reach out to new donors, and especially young donors. “We had interns who zeroed in on engaging students on the UW campus, as well as other millennials. We always emphasize that donors—especially young adults—can give just $10 and still be an important part of our philanthropic community.”

Participating nonprofits also bolstered their social media campaigns. “The digital outreach was much more sophisticated this year, with more images, videos, and humorous approaches to get viewers engaged,” said Mitch Schwartz, Doctoral Candidate at the UW School of Journalism who assisted with social media communications trainings that were underwritten by Madison Gas & Electric. “It’s obvious that in this second year, CSW groups were more comfortable with social media and better prepared for The Big Share—and it literally paid off in their higher donations.”

“The Big Share relies on the viral nature of social media to get many people involved, especially younger donors. A text-to-give option this year broadened the appeal to donors, thanks to a Technology Innovation Grant from The ZenDesk Neighbor Foundation.

The Big Share doesn’t just raise money for organizations,” said Lew Friedland, Professor in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, a key partner with CSW. “Just by participating, groups raise their capacity to communicate with new audiences, especially younger ones. An event like this also helps nonprofits communicate about the successful work they’re doing in the community.”

“It’s our hope that all of those 2,000 donors to this year’s Big Share will stay connected to the nonprofits that they donated to,” said Anders. “Our member groups have always been great stewards of the funds they raise, but clearly when more people get involved with our members, the more these groups can do.”

“Congratulations to Community Shares and all the member nonprofits for raising awareness and money for important causes,” said MCF’s Tom Linfield, Vice President of Community Impact. “Not only did CSW engage new audiences, they strengthened these nonprofits’ capacity to meet the needs of our community now and in the future.”

The Big Share attracted more corporate sponsors this year and therefore was able to award more prizes to groups, either given out randomly or given to the groups with the most donors or the most dollars raised in a single hour. Media sponsors included 105.5 Triple M, Isthmus, and WKOW. Other sponsors who gave prize gifts or supported the day in other ways included Java Cat, Home Savings Bank, Mini of Madison, BCycle, Zendesk, Yelp, ColectivoDelta Properties, Kollath CPA, Supranet, National Guardian Life, Culver’s, Google, Dane County Credit Union, Plan B, Sardine, and Sprinkman Real Estate.

Special collaborators included Madison Commons, Earthling Interactive, 100 State, Reverbal Communications, High Tech Happy HourRaise4It, and Social Media Breakfast Madison.


About Community Shares of Wisconsin

Community Shares of Wisconsin is a member-directed fundraising federation; all of its member groups hold a seat on the CSW board, and this unique cooperative structure promotes accountability and transparency. CSW raises money through workplace giving campaigns, The Big Share, the Community CHIP® program at Willy Street Co-op, and the Round Up program at Capitol Centre Market. Community Shares not only raises money for its groups, it actively helps expand their capacity through training, 1:1 support from experts, networking, and technical assistance. Since its inception in 1971, CSW has worked to build the social and environmental change movement by connecting its member nonprofits with new generations of donors and leaders.


About Madison Community Foundation

Madison Community Foundation encourages, facilitates, and manages long-term philanthropy. Since 1942, the foundation staff has helped people realize their philanthropic goals, allowing them to support charitable interests anywhere in the world. The community foundation also awards grants throughout Dane County to build communities. More information is available at



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