Born in a Time of Change

A Brief History of the Nonprofit Center of Milwaukee

Milwaukee spiritual leaders came together in the mid-1960s in response to tumultuous events, bearing witness to the idealism – and change – that also flourished during the decade. A group formed under the name Milwaukee Associates in Urban Ministry (MAUM) and incorporated in 1967 as a nonprofit organization to sponsor Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA) projects in central city churches.

Over time, the dimensions of urban problems and the demands of the VISTA program pushed for the creation of an organization that served all nonprofit organizations. MAUM was gradually transformed into Milwaukee Associates in Urban Development (MAUD), taking that name in 1972.

By the late 1970s, nonprofits in general had begun to encounter the problems and characteristics of maturing organizations. Many had people power, but lacked the expertise to comply with financial, fundraising, and tax-exempt reporting guidelines. MAUD opened a Resource Center in 1977 to share its fund of expertise with the growing number of nonprofit organizations in the area.

MAUD expanded training and technical assistance efforts that served more than 200 organizations in 1984. MAUD membership grew to 75 organizations in 1988. In 1990, the School for Leaders was born, formalizing MAUD’s commitment to organizing and skills training and technical assistance services.

MAUD created a Neighborhood Data Center in 1991 to collect and distribute demographic and other information of value to nonprofits – a state of the art enterprise. MAUD Membership grew to 170 organizations by 1992, more than doubling in just four years.

A groundbreaking conference on collaboration among public, private and nonprofit sectors was attended by more than 400 individuals in 1994. The next year, MAUD created the Management Consultant Program (later called the Management Assistance Program), a collaboration with the Volunteer Center of Greater Milwaukee that linked volunteer consultants with nonprofits in need of assistance.

The planning process to lead the organization into the 21st century inspired MAUD to change its name to the Nonprofit Center of Milwaukee in 1996. Scope of service and membership continued to expand, and we moved in to our current facility at 2819 West Highland Boulevard in 2000. Two years later the Nonprofit Center purchased the building, creating a permanent home for our programs and the nonprofit community.

In 2003, the Volunteer Center of Greater Milwaukee came under the umbrella of the Nonprofit Center. The Jobs That Serve nonprofit employment website was launched in 2005, the Finance Center providing financial management training and services was created in 2007, and the MKE123 nonprofit collaborative website was launched in 2012 (MKE123 is no longer in service).

Expanded online services through the Volunteer Center website and Jobs That Serve have greatly enhanced our ability to benefit organizations, their staff members and volunteers, and individuals in the community on a daily basis. The Nonprofit Center of Milwaukee now serves more than 400 nonprofit member organizations, hundreds of non-member nonprofits, more than 40 corporate members of the Business Volunteer Council, and thousands of individuals each year.