Old World Wisconsin Foundation

Funding Old World Wisconsin with Stewardship and Integrity since 1984

aka Old World Foundation   |   Elkhorn, WI   |


Old World Wisconsin Foundation enhances the preservation of Wisconsin history through local, independent support of museum visitation, educational outreach, and the maintenance of artifacts and buildings, particularly at Old World Wisconsin museum. Old World Wisconsin takes you back to the 1800s, when immigrants shaped their destinies on the Wisconsin frontier. Staff and volunteers engage visitors as they interpret the settlers' stories and provide opportunities for fun, memorable hands-on experiences.

Ruling year info


Executive Director

Ms. Gwen Griffin

Main address

P.O. Box 347

Elkhorn, WI 53121 USA

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NTEE code info

History Museums (A54)

Children's Museums (A52)

Garden Club, Horticultural Programs (C42)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Old World Foundation provides monetary support for the Old World Wisconsin historic attraction. Preserving history is critical for our future. With limited funds available to Old World Wisconsin from the State of Wisconsin and through earned revenue, Old World Foundation continually seeks to increase awareness and engagement within the surrounding community. Searching for sources of funding through grants, individuals, and corporations is an on-going challenge. In addition, informing people in the surrounding area of the projects and programs at Old World Wisconsin is also an on-going challenge. Old World Foundation's mission is to enhance the preservation of Wisconsin history through local and independent support of museum visitation, educational outreach and maintenance of artifacts and buildings.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Richard W.E. Perrin Fund

The R. E. Perrin Fund exists to ensure that adequate resources exsist to carry out proper historic preservation, maintenance, conservation, restoration and procedures for the historic buildings at Old World Wisconsin.

Population(s) Served

The Neita Oviatt Friend Fund exists to ensure that adequate resources are available to continue Old World Wisconsin's mission of telling the stories of our Wisconsin ancestors, through the creation of new exhibits.

Population(s) Served

This fund exists to subsidize school field trips to Old World Wisconsin for schools with low-income students.

Population(s) Served
Non-adult children

This fund exists to provide care for the over 100 animals that live at Old World Wisconsin. Many of these animals are heritage breed animals that are bred and raised to ensure the future of these unique breeds. Visitors enjoy the experience that engaging with these animals brings. Learning about how animals helped the early settlers give visitors a deep appreciation for both the animals and the day to day life of our ancestors.

Population(s) Served

The garden fund exists to fund the planting and care of over 24 heirloom gardens at Old World Wisconsin. These gardens are not only visually welcoming to visitors, they are educational as they provide hands-on learning about how our ancestors used the plants in everyday life. Visitors are encouraged to see, smell, touch, and taste the various flowers, herbs and vegetables growing on-site at Old World Wisconsin.

Population(s) Served

Where we work

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

Old World Foundation is aiming to preserve history in all forms at Old World Wisconsin, At this site, history is found in historic buildings, heritage breed animals, heirloom gardens, collections of artifacts, stories of our ancestors and more. Since this is a living history attraction, trained facilitators who interact with guests must also be clothed in the appropriate clothing. Guests learn about the past in an interactive environment. Therefore, reproduction items must be available for guests to use. Often school-age children visit this site on a school sponsored trip. Old World Foundation provides school field trip subsidies to help children from low-income schools visit and participate in activities related to history, social studies, art, science, technology, engineering and math. Teaching children STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) principles applied throughout history, helps connect the past to the present and the future.

Old World Wisconsin is a dynamic site that strives to create new, immersive experiences for guests each year. We are aiming to reach potential visitors and current visitors to deliver the message that guests can visit Old World Wisconsin every year or even several times within the year and experience something new.

As a fundraising organization, Old World Foundation's strategy for increasing awareness and raising the necessary funds is to constantly communicate with our current supporters. We send out monthly newsletters, post on Facebook weekly and update our website approximately once a month or more often as necessary. We also are actively involved in networking within the surrounding communities by staying active within eight local Chambers of Congress or community groups.

In addition to increasing awareness of Old World Wisconsin to the surrounding communities, we must raise the needed funds to support projects and programs. We seek out foundations that have an interest in funding particular projects and programs and complete grant applications.

Old World Foundation also stewards gifts from individuals and corporations who support our mission. One major fundraising event is also held annually with the goal of raising the necessary funds while also engaging with new potential supporters.

Old World Foundation is capable of fulfilling its mission through on-going donor support. We host donor "thank you" events and recognize the value of our supporters.

In addition, our Executive Director researches other possible sources of funding. Approximately 12-15 grants are applied for each year based on the specific current needs of Old World Wisconsin.

One full-time staff person and one part-time staff person plan, organize and host all the Old World Foundation events produced each year. These include one large fundraising event and four to six donor recognition events.

The Old World Foundation Board of Trustees consists of 12 individuals who are passionate about our mission of support for Old World Wisconsin. These people support our mission by sharing information with those they come in contact with in the community and by attending our events.

Since 1984, Old World Foundation has gifted $9 million to Old World Wisconsin. In the 1970's and 1980's several historic buildings were moved to Old World Wisconsin from various locations around the State of Wisconsin. More recently, Old World Foundation has funded the restoration of the Sanford house and yard, new theater chairs for Caldwell Hall, repairs to several chimneys, opening of The Garden Shop, planting of many heirloom gardens, feeding and care of the 100 + animals on site, printing and distribution of promotional rack cards and site maps, prairie restoration, 15 memorial benches, harness and livery carriage repair, fabric for clothing, school field trip subsidies, sponsorship of programs and many other items.

Old World Foundation is currently raising funds to repair/restore several additional buildings and chimneys. We are also in the process of raising awareness and funds for the various hands-on, family-friendly programming. For example, each year, Old World Wisconsin honors Independence Day with a 19th century celebration. In December, they showcase how the holidays were celebrated by the people who immigrated and migrated to Wisconsin. Raising additional funds for this type of programming will ensure that Old World Wisconsin can maintain and even enhance the guest experience.

Enhancing the guest experience and creating new opportunities for guests remain priorities at Old World Wisconsin. Old World Foundation will continue to support Old World Wisconsin's goals in this area. It is only with continued significant attendance that Old World Wisconsin can share the stories of the resilient people who settled in the unforgiving Wisconsin wilderness. Every aspect of Old World Wisconsin -the buildings, gardens, animals, artifacts, facilitators and programs-contributes to the story of our past.

In addition to these plans for the future, Old World Wisconsin is looking to enhance the entry experience for guests. The feasibility of adding buildings, such as a new ticketing building, are being explored. After a final determination is made as to the design and the scope of this project, Old World Foundation will begin the campaign to raise needed funds.


Old World Wisconsin Foundation

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The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.


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Connect with nonprofit leaders


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  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
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Old World Wisconsin Foundation

Board of directors
as of 05/04/2022
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Rosanne McGuire

Blessings in a Backback

Term: 2021 - 2023

Terry Dignan

Retired, formerly CedarPoint Investment Advisors

Douglas Bruins

Retired, formerly President, Citizens Bank

Joanne Kraut

Retired, formerly Johnson Controls

Hans Pregler

Young Auditorium, University of Wisconsin-Whitewater

JoAnn F. Villavicencio

Non-profit Advisor

Rosanne McGuire

Program Manager, Blessings in a Backpack

Kristin Koeffler

City of Milton, Municipal Judge

Rhese Morgan

Relationship Banker, BMO Harris Bank

Ron Buchholz

Retired Director Career and Leadership Development, UW-Whitewater

Jay Williams

Retired Senior Systems Designer, GE Medical Systems

Beth Heaney

Legal Assistant, Standard Process Inc.

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Not applicable
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? No

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 3/1/2021

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? Candid partnered with CHANGE Philanthropy on this demographic section.


The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
Gender identity
Female, Not transgender (cisgender)
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or straight
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity


Sexual orientation