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

History

The foundation was started in 1975 by a local businessman who had a dream to create an organization for others much like himself who wanted to give 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.

It began with a $50,000 endowment from the disbanded Children's Home formerly located on the corner of Follett and Macy Streets and an additional $3,000 gift from the Children's Home for organizational costs. Joining Tonjes and Edgarton on the Board of Directors was George Becker, C. L. Ludden, Marian Petri, Bernard Schreiner, and Ellen Humleker.

For more than twenty years, Carl Tonjes worked full time as a volunteer for the Fond du Lac Area Foundation, devoting not only his energy and time, but his home; as he and his wife Delnia operated the Foundation there until 1989. At that time, Janet Schmidt was hired as executive director and 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 and in 1995 became executive director following the retirement of Janet. The Foundation had grown to just over $3,000,000 in assets.  

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. At that point, the Foundation had expanded to 111 funds with assets totaling 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 2002, the Foundation moved to a new home and added Joe Braun as Director of Communications & Accounting. By this time, the Foundation had more than $11,000,000 in assets and 160 funds. Through the years, the Foundation experienced impressive growth and the beginning of several exciting funds. The Foundation has grown to more than $40,000,000 in assets and manages more than 340 funds. Through the years, the Foundation has granted over $18,000,000 back to the community.

In 2018, Sandi Roehrig stepped into a part time role and the board of directors chose to promote Joe Braun to take over as Executive Director. He was joined in his new position with three new staff members. Jackie Runge, Erin Mueller, and Erin Butzke.

The Foundation provides donors with a variety of 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 and produce great channel 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.