The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Covers UPAF’s Finale

United Performing Arts Fund raises a record $12,163,486

Mary Louise Shumacher covers UPAF’s Finale

By Mary Louise Schumacher of the Journal Sentinel

The United Performing Arts Fund, which raises core operating funds for area performing arts groups, raised $12,163,486, an amount $96,514 shy of the goal it set in March but a record nonetheless. The amount is an all-time high for the organization and $162,260 more than last year.

UPAF has fallen short of its fundraising goal 14 of its 49 years, though most of those occurred in the early life of the organization. The last shortfall came in 2008 due to the economic downturn, when the group missed the goal by about $100,000. The only other time in recent memory was in 2003, when it raised about $300,000 less than hoped.

UPAF generally meets or exceeds its goal each year and, except during the economic downturn, typically sets a higher “stretch” target for each subsequent campaign. The group could not pinpoint any particular reason the goal was not met this year, and disbursements to arts groups will be unaffected, said Dave Fantle, chief marketing officer for UPAF.

The group also wants to be transparent about the modest shortfall.

“It is not our policy at UPAF to go back to major donors to help fill a last-minute gap just so we can say we met a goal,” said Deanna Tillisch, UPAF’s president and CEO. “We want our campaigns to be authentic and our outcomes realistic.”

The group has also increased the funds raised annually by more than $2 million since 2012. UPAF raised $12,001,226 last year, $11,728,476 the year before, $11,005,419 in 2013 and $10,129,411 in 2012.

More than 200 companies gave through workplace giving campaigns, including 22 new additions, and Northwestern Mutual once again raised more than any other company. The insurance giant’s employees and retirees contributed $990,000 to UPAF this year, bringing the company’s overall gift to $1.72 million.

UPAF raises operating funds for 15 performing arts organizations such as the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, the Milwaukee Repertory Theater and First Stage. It also provides one-time grants to arts organizations.

The results of this year’s campaign, which included the UPAF Ride for the Arts, were announced at a finale celebration on Tuesday at the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts.

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