(920) 921-2215Fax: (920) 921-1036
384 N. Main Street - Suite 4Fond du Lac, WI 54935

History

A little more than thirty years ago, a local businessman had a dream. The dream was to create an organization for others like him who wanted to give something back to the community. With the help of his friend and business associate, attorney Allan Edgarton, Carl Tonjes started the Fond du Lac Area Foundation as a tribute to the caring nature of this area's citizens.

The Fond du Lac Area Foundation was started with a $50,000 endowment from the disbanded Children's Home formerly located on the corner of Follett and Macy Streets. An additional $3,000 gift from the Children's Home was donated for organizational costs. Joining Tonjes and Edgarton on the Board of Directors was George Becker, C. L. Ludden, Marian Petri, Bernard Schreiner, Ellen Humleker, and David Wilson.

Carl Tonjes worked full time as a volunteer for the Fond du Lac Area Foundation for more than twenty years. He served as chairman of the board from the first year until 1994. Until 1989, when Janet Schmidt was hired as a part time executive director, he and his wife, Delnia, operated the Foundation out of their home. By that time, the Foundation had grown from one fund with assets of $50,000 to eighteen funds with assets of $1,418,022.

In 1993, Sandi Braun Roehrig joined the staff of the Foundation. She became executive director in 1995 following the retirement of Janet Schmidt. Susan Steinbarth joined the staff in 1995 acting as accounts executive and executive assistant. In 1995, the Foundation had just over $3,000,000 in assets.  Carl continued to serve the community foundation as a full time volunteer acting as treasurer of the board of directors until his death in September of 1998.

As of April 1999, the Foundation had grown to 111 funds with assets totalling more than eight million dollars. More importantly, the Foundation had been able to award more than $1,000,000 of charitable grants to the Fond du Lac community. In 1999 the Fond du Lac Area Foundation announced the largest gift ever to be made to the arts: a grant award of $900,000 to support the Performing Arts Center at the new high school and the Arts Center of Fond du Lac.

In 2002, the Foundation moved to a new home.  This new location provided additional space and donor-friendly access.  In 2002, Joe Braun joined the staff as Director of Communications & Accounting.  By this time, the Foundation had more than $11,000,000 in assets and had 160 funds.  In 2007, the Foundation added Jenny Zacherl to the staff as an Administrative Assistant.  Through the years, the Foundation experienced impressive growth and the beginning of several exciting funds.  The Foundation has grown to more than $34,000,000 in assets and manages more than 330 funds.  Through the years, the Foundation has granted over $17,000,000 back to the community.

The Foundation provides donors with a variety of different fund types to choose from and can work with donors to help them decide the best areas for their fund to benefit.  These were all started by people with a charitable dream and who were able to see that dream become a reality with the Foundation.  These funds can be started with as little as $1,000.  These funds are a great way to leave a legacy for a family member or a loved one.  Whether you want to give a gift, start a fund, or even volunteer with the Fond du Lac Area Foundation, your support and generosity have allowed the Foundation to not only survive for the last 42 years, but also to thrive.  The Fond du Lac Area Foundation will continue to follow its mission of creating a better community by promoting philanthropy, awarding effective grants, and providing leadership on important community issues … today & forever.