UPAF raises $12.16 million during 2016 fundraising campaign

Total is largest amount ever raised by group, but still short of goal

Cyclists ride south across the Hoan Bridge during the UPAF Ride for the Arts.

The United Performing Arts Fund raised $12.16 million during its 15-week fundraising campaign from March 1 through June 14. It’s the largest amount of money ever raised by the group, however, it did fall short of UPAF’s $12.26 million goal.

Cyclists ride south across the Hoan Bridge during the 2016 UPAF Ride for the Arts on June 5, 2016.
Cyclists ride south across the Hoan Bridge during the 2016 UPAF Ride for the Arts on June 5, 2016.

“Thanks to the generosity of our donors, area companies and foundations, 2016 was another record-setting year for UPAF, achieving another important milestone,” said UPAF President and CEO Deanna Tillisch. “Our co-chairs, Paul (Eberle, CEO of Whyte Hirschboeck Dudek), Paul (Purcell, chairman of Baird) and Peggy (Williams-Smith, vice president of food and beverage for Marcus Hotels and Resorts), staff, loaned executives and workplace ambassadors worked tirelessly to ensure the success of this campaign, and we are truly grateful to them for helping us achieve this new record.”

UPAF is an umbrella nonprofit that solicits donations on behalf of 15 local performing arts organizations, including the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, the Milwaukee Repertory Theater and the Milwaukee Ballet.

The amount of money the organization has taken in during its annual fundraising campaign has increased by nearly 24 percent since 2012. Since UPAF CEO Deanna Tillisch came aboard in 2011, the organization has also raised its ranking on Charity Navigator, which measures nonprofit efficiency and transparency, from 87.87 to 96.61.

Last year, UPAF’s fundraising campaign generated $12 million. This is the first time since 2008 the group has not reached its fundraising goal.

“While the amount raised was just shy of the goal announced at UPAF’s March 1 launch event, (it still) represents more than a $150,000 increase over the previous year and a new milestone,” the organization wrote in a statement released Monday. “UPAF typically sets a stretch goal, with the ultimate outcome of raising more money than the prior year.”

More than 200 local companies hosted workplace giving campaigns for UPAF this year. Northwestern Mutual was the largest overall donor. The company gave a total of $1.72 million to the campaign and around $990,000 of that money was contributed by Northwestern Mutual employees and retirees.

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Ben Stanley, former BizTimes Milwaukee reporter.

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