A Legacy Built on a Lifetime of Involvement

Jenifer Winiger finds joy in seeing the impact of philanthropy

photo of two smiling women showing off their matching necklaces

The idea of leaving a legacy through philanthropy began to resonate with Jenifer Winiger after the passing of her parents. “I think it’s natural to start thinking about ‘legacy’ as we get older and start losing people,” Jen explained.

Jen already had a strong connection with MCF through her involvement with A Fund for Women. “I met Jane Coleman when I interviewed her for a column about prominent Madisonians,” Jen shared. “Jane was such an inspiration to me, and eventually became a role model, a freelance employer and a close friend. When she started A Fund for Women, I was honored to be part of that.” Jen became one of AFFW’s founding supporters, a future board chair, and remains a supporter today.

After her husband Phil Winiger’s sudden death in 2011, Jen started contemplating the impact she knew he would have liked to leave in our community. “Phil thought AFFW was a terrific fund, and I already was working with MCF, so I could see how legacy giving could make a difference,” Jen explained.

Jen’s estate plan includes gifts to MCF to establish two funds: the “In Honor of Jane Coleman” Community Impact Fund and the “In Memory of Phil Winiger” AFFW F und. “I wanted to honor my husband and Jane, two people who meant the world to me. Planning a legacy gift and naming the funds in their honor seemed like a natural way to do that.

“The idea of leaving a legacy also was comfortable — because the gift comes out of my estate, it doesn’t affect my financial security should something unexpected come up, and it allows me to continue to support the causes that are meaningful to me after I’m gone.”

Jen feels deeply about the challenges facing the world today and is using her legacy to help the people of Madison address them. But she also recognizes that over time those challenges will shift, which is why she has chosen to support MCF’s Community Impact Fund as part of her legacy plan. “I have witnessed so many changes in my life and in Madison, and I find it reassuring that MCF is able to adapt to these evolving circumstances and prioritize what matters most for the community.”

Her legacy gift for AFFW makes sense to her because she sees the ongoing need to support women financially and address persistent setbacks. She knows AFFW’s grantmaking will continue to champion equal opportunities, for both young girls and women who continue to struggle in so many areas and desperately need innovative programs.

When asked about how she wants to be remembered, Jen instead talks about the joy she gets from seeing the impact of philanthropy spreading. “I think that change happens one person at a time,” Jen said. “I believe in MCF and what it’s doing. It’s what Jane promised me so many years ago: Participation in philanthropy is not only vital to us all, it’s actually ‘fun’ to be part of it.”