Determining which nonprofit to support isn’t easy, especially when you have limited financial capabilities.
That’s what Community Shares Milwaukee is for. The organization is a nonprofit for nonprofits, helping 50 affiliated member groups get funding and donations to promote their missions. On Feb. 7, Community Shares is looking for contributions in a brand-new way: the Concert for Community Shares, a benefit at Shank Hall featuring the local bands MidCoast, the Rumskis and Burgundy Ties.
Staging a benefit concert isn’t a new idea, but it’s new for the 33-year-old nonprofit, says executive director John Jansen, who’s been with the organization since 2001. He says the concept originated with board president Mary Hintz, an audit manager at Scribner, Cohen & Company. Her husband Jon Hintz fronts one of the bands — the Rumskis. He and other board members were able to recruit two additional groups to round out the show.
In addition to serving as a fundraiser, the concert will also function as a promotional campaign for the organization, which Jansen says has been raising its profile in recent years through traditional marketing and social media. Proceeds from the show will go to Community Shares to be distributed among the social justice, animal welfare and environmental charities Community Shares supports.
Community Shares’ major source of funding is workplace giving. Public and private sector employees select charities from Community Shares affiliates and donate a portion of their paycheck to them each week.
“It would be impossible for our 50 member organizations to go to 50-plus workplaces and run an employee giving campaign,” Jansen says. “So we give them the entree into the workplace and represent and advocate for them.”
Affiliates are appreciative of Community Shares’ contributions because they can be used to fund general operations. Funds provided through grants usually are designated for specific projects.
Community Shares also provides additional value for donors. The charities supported are screened and vetted to ensure they’re operated according to best practices and have a record of results.
It’s a virtuous cycle, so to speak — one Jansen hopes the Concert for Community Shares can keep on spinning.
A benefit concert’s nothing without its musical acts, and the Concert for Community Shares has brought together three varied acts offering a little something for everyone. To give you a sense of what’s on tap for the evening, we spoke with representatives from the bands performing.
Members: Jon Hintz, vocals/guitar; Matt Hintz, guitar; Tim Mercier, bass; Lyle Brotkowski, drums.
Sound: Alternative rock, with splashes of classic rock, hard rock, blues, psychedelic and folk rock.
Sample track: “Five Broken Hearts,” from the self-titled EP.
Origin story: “Two brothers, their co-worker and a bearded bass player all drank just enough rum and whiskey.”
Most memorable Milwaukee show: “Our EP release party at Fire and Water, April 20, 2013.”
Reason for supporting Community Shares: “Jon Hintz’s wife Mary is the president of the board at Community Shares. Because of her love for music and charitable organizations, she reached out to us to see if we wanted to do a benefit concert along with local bands we admire. We want to be involved in our local communities, and that involvement aligns perfectly with Community Shares’ mission.”
Members: Eric Zyla, rhythm guitar/vocals; Mike Serverson, percussion/vocals; Matt “Gunner” Gundersen, rhythm and lead guitar/Hammond organ; Jake Razbornik, lead guitar/vocals; Andy Riding, bass.
Sound: Indie/alternative rock.
Sample track: “Bring,” off upcoming EP.
Origin story: “Mike and I (Eric) started jammin’ together about two years ago, sharing each other’s original material and unique cover renditions. With aspirations of putting together a full band, we kept learning covers and playing out as a two-piece. Finally, about two months ago, I invited Mike over to Gunner’s place to jam some material he and I had been working on and things started to take off. Next, we invited Jake over, and his ability to fit the mood of the song gave us a great mix in sound. Andy jumped aboard in early January after he responded to our Craigslist post and turned out to be a great fit.”
Most memorable Milwaukee show: “Any show we play at Fire and Water — we’ve played at Fire and Water more than we’ve played at any other venue. Plus any time you get the chance to open a set for a great local band like the Rumskis you appreciate the experience even more.”
Reason for supporting Community Shares: “We have recently been introduced to Community Shares and their mission, and we’re honored to be a part of an event that will help bring awareness to the organization.”
Members: Pat Dermody, guitars/vocals; Geoff Felsher, lap steel/guitar; Nate Grey, keyboards/piano; Peyton Lencho, bass; Jacob Miller, drums/percussion/vocals.
Sound: Singer-songwriter rock ’n’ roll.
Sample track: “Homeward,” from the album of the same name.
Origin story: “Burgundy Ties originally formed back in 2003 and our name means “blood brothers.” Over the years we’ve released four albums and played over 1,000 shows. We’ve grown into the five-piece we are today with everyone joining the group organically. Music is the backbone, but humor is the glue that keeps us together as a band.”
Most memorable Milwaukee show: “Our sold-out Homeward CD Release Concert last summer on the Vista King (tour boat) in Milwaukee. We got to share our new music and a beautiful evening on Lake Michigan with 200 of our closest fans and friends.”
Reason for supporting Community Shares: “(We’ve) been involved directly with Community Shares in the past, (and we’ve) known board member Mary Hintz for a number of years.”
The Concert for Community Shares begins at Shank Hall at 7 p.m. Feb. 7. Tickets are $10 in advance or $15 at the door. Order tickets online at communitysharesmke.org.