Photo of the President’s Advisory Council gathered in Milwaukee in June 2015. Photo by Andy Manis.

The New WFAA

The President’s Advisory Council gathered in Milwaukee in June 2015. Shown in front of a backdrop of the Union Terrace are (first row, from left) Dave Florin, Laurie Shults, Kyle Weatherly, Kevin Pickett, Dean of Students Lori Berquam, Shawn Bergemann; (back row) Martha Vukelich-Austin, Paula Bonner, Kelli Trumble, Paul McCann, and Natalie Bowman.

Through a merger with the UW Foundation, WAA adds a letter to its name.

Between June 30 and July 1, 2014, WAA underwent an operation that added a letter to its name but didn’t change a thing about its mission. WAA merged with the UW Foundation to create the Wisconsin Foundation and Alumni Assocation (WFAA) and unite UW-Madison’s two most important independent support organizations. Each on its own has worked to advance the UW’s interests and missions; now both do so together.

Launched in 1945, the UW Foundation is UW-Madison’s fundraising and gift-receiving organization. It’s the group you know from Telefund calls and letters asking for donations. It maintains the UW’s endowment — investments adding up to around $2.3 billion that alumni and donors have given the university to create a pool of perpetual support.

WAA traces its history back to 1861, when a group of UW graduates got together at the start of the Civil War, planning to encourage their fellow alumni to work on behalf of their alma mater and its interests. Through 150 years, WAA has brought UW grads together in chapters in some 100 cities, for Homecoming, through publications such as On Wisconsin and Badger Insider Magazines, and in many other activities, events, and programs.

“Both WAA and the Foundation have the same mission,” says Paula Bonner MS’78, WAA’s president and WFAA’s chief alumni officer. “Both organizations believe that a strong UW-Madison is important to Wisconsin and to the world. And both have worked to support the UW as it pursues its goals. Now we’ll work together, as a single entity.”

The merger offers opportunities to improve efficiency, as WAA’s marketing and alumni-relations efforts are now tied with the Foundation’s development and stewardship work. Campus units now have a single group through which to connect with alumni and donors.

WAA members aren’t likely to notice any changes. On Wisconsin and Badger Insider will still arrive in mailboxes, with the same content. Chapters and regional programming will be much the same, or even enhanced. Career programs, learning programs, advocacy, and international and athletic travel will all continue.

The UW Foundation brand will continue to be connected with fundraising efforts, while the WAA brand will support alumni relations and engagement work.