Jane Coleman: A Home for Big Ideas

Jane Coleman's unrestricted legacy gift to the Community Impact Fund will support Dane County's greatest assets for generations to come.

Jane Coleman loves big-picture thinking, and named Madison Community Foundation as a beneficiary in her will to make sure big ideas have a home today, tomorrow and for generations to come. Connecting people with bold ideas that build on the assets of our community is at the heart of what Jane appreciates most about MCF.

As MCF’s executive director from 1986-1997, Jane helped facilitate the $1 million to launch the construction of Monona Terrace, thanks to a donor who left an unrestricted gift to the MCF in her will to support the Community Impact Fund. “If community foundations want to be change agents, they have to have unrestricted money,” says Jane.

In 1993, Jane asked 100 women to donate $1,000 to start A Fund for Women—and they did. She calls the effort “an amazing opportunity” for women to identify themselves as philanthropists. In the early 2000s, Jane led the Great Performance Campaign, helping to raise $23 million to build permanent endowment funds for Overture Center’s resident arts groups, matched by $23 million of philanthropist Pleasant T. Rowland’s own generosity.

As a donor, Jane pays her “civic rent” by supporting a broad range of interests, including education, visual arts, music, theater and more. Especially near and dear to her are the student journalists at Simpson Street Free Press, where she volunteers as an editor once a week, and which she proudly supports through MCF.

For Jane, charitable giving through MCF is a way she can impact her community by supporting her favorite causes today, and as a Legacy Society member, well into the future.

“I think of my legacy gift as paying it forward,” says Jane. “What better way to enhance the future of the city that has given me such a wonderful life.”