State Profile – Wisconsin

About This Profile

Across the United States, the charitable sector generates incredible impact on both communities and economies. This profile is a snapshot of major statistics about Wisconsin’s charitable community. It’s designed to give you a broad sense of the scale and diversity of nonprofits, foundations, and charities across the state. A downloadable PDF version is available above.


Number of Wisconsin Nonprofit Organizations

  • All nonprofit organizations: 30,854
  • 501(c)(3) Public Charities (includes some religious organizations): 18,725
  • 501(c)(3) Private and Public Foundations: 2,074
  • Other 501(c) Nonprofit Organizations*: 10,055

* includes civic leagues, chamber of commerce, veterans organizations, etc


Economic Impact of the Wisconsin Nonprofit Sector

  • Employs 272,900 – over 12% of the state’s workforce
  • Generates more than $49 billion in annual revenues
  • Holds assets of almost $91 billion
  • Wisconsin foundations annually give almost $586 million
  • Wisconsinites give over $2.7 billion to charity each year, representing 2.52 percent of household income

Public Charities and Foundations Benefit Wisconsin Communities

Deliver vital community services
Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin and its large network of partners carry out anti-hunger initiatives across 36 counties in the state. Last year, the organization facilitated the distribution of over 24 million pounds of food, given to 377,000 needy individuals and families in the region. That translates to 67,000 meals per day in the Milwaukee and Fox Valley areas.

Give voice to the people they serve
Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee offered basic needs, adoption, and enrichment services to nearly 37,000 area residents in 2015. Its Adult Day Center provides daily support and education opportunities to seniors and adults with disabilities, 18 percent of whom are veterans and range from ages 68 to 92.

Contribute to vibrant communities
The Madison Museum of Contemporary Art has hosted an annual Art Fair on the Square for over 50 years that draws a crowd of nearly 200,000 to the city’s center over two days each July. MMoCA supports the community through outreach and education programs for youth and families year-round, in addition to housing 51,000 square feet for innovative art exhibition.

Advance solutions for challenges facing society
The Mississippi Valley Conservancy, an accredited and award-winning member of Land Trust Alliance, has led successful conservation efforts for more than 15,000 acres of natural resources since its 1997 founding.



Note: The “nonprofit sector” encompasses organizations that are defined as tax-exempt under section 501(c) of the Internal Revenue Code. This includes both public charities and private foundations [501(c)(3)] and other nonprofits such as civic league organizations [501(c)(4)]. Exceptions are noted when relevant.

Employment Information
Best estimate based on available data from the following sources:

Number of nonprofit employees: Holding the Fort: Nonprofit Employment During a Decade of Turmoil, Lester Salamon and S.Wojciech Sokolowski, Stephanie L. Geller, Nonprofit Employment Bulletin #39, Johns Hopkins Center for Civil Society Studies, 2012 {Data is 2010, page 3}

Number of Nonprofits
Urban Institute, National Center for Charitable Statistics, State Summary reports  {Data are 2013}

Asset and Revenues
Urban Institute, National Center for Charitable Statistics, “Registered Nonprofit Organizations by State (BMF 12/2015)
{Data are 2015}

Foundation Giving
The Foundation Center, FC Stats: “Foundation Stats: Total Grantmaking Foundations” {Data are 2013}

Individual Giving
How America Gives, 2014. The Chronicle of Philanthropy. {Data are 2012}

Nonprofit Examples:

Updated: May 2016


Resource Types: Fact Sheet