In the 608: Community Shares of Wisconsin celebrating 50 years

MADISON, Wis. – Community Shares of Wisconsin is marking its 50th anniversary.

We got a closer look at their new space on E. Main St. in Madison, which they open up to area non-profits to use.

Community Shares of Wisconsin was originally established as the Madison Sustaining Fund in 1971. Founders included anti-war activists and UW students who raised money for bail funds for protestors.

50 years later, they’re working with 70 non-profit member organizations that work for social and environmental justice.

Through fundraising and capacity building, Community Shares of Wisconsin takes a grassroots approach to making a positive impact in the community.

“The cooperative work that everyone does continues to stay, and that’s what makes Community Shares such a great organization because we’re not focused on competition,” said executive director Cheri Dubiel. “All of our groups, we invite them to come together and work together, and in a lot of our funding initiatives, that’s exactly what they do. They cheer each other on, and they support each other. They donate to each other, and so it’s a really beautiful community of people.”

You may already know of the “Big Share” fundraising campaign. That’s one of their biggest events of the year. This year’s was record-breaking, with the raising of $724,659 from 5000 donors.

Their new space is in a building managed by Common Wealth Development. That’s one of the many non-profits they work with. CWD works to redevelop areas, while keeping it affordable for small businesses and local organizations. When Community Shares of Wisconsin approached them with the idea of creating a space for area non-profits to work together, it was a win-win situation.

“We’re happy to see people still growing and thriving, especially the businesses that are in this building, and also seeing the non-profits being able to serve so many folks and address the issues that the pandemic brought up,” said Megan Diaz-Ricks, CWD Director of Economic Development. “We’re just really grateful for the collaboration with Community Shares and being able to amplify their voice, and in doing so being able to amplify the voices of all the other non-profits they’re serving.”

To learn more about Community Shares of Wisconsin, click here.