To put pressure on our universities to divest from fossil fuels, a group of students, faculty, alumni, and parents have joined together to create the donor-advised Multi-School Fossil Free Divestment Fund. The fund leverages the greatest power alumni hold: our annual giving capability. Show your school that you want to donate but need them to do the right thing and divest from fossil fuels first. You can see the list of participating schools here. The 350 Madison Divestment Team added the University of Wisconsin–Madison to the fund in February 2015.

How It Works

Donations to the fund are tax-deductible, and when your school divests, it will receive your donation and the earnings it has accrued from being invested fossil-free. The fund will hold and invest donations until an institution’s endowment:

  1. Immediately freezes any new investment in fossil fuel companies, and
  2. Divests within five years from current holdings in fossil fuel companies.

If the institution fails to divest by the end of 2017, donors’ funds will go to other participating schools that have divested. Why 2017? According to the International Energy Agency, that’s the outside cutoff for building new fossil fuel infrastructure if we’re to avoid catastrophic climate change.

Since donations will go to other universities if a college or university does not divest, the fund creates an incentive for an institution to take action. Money donated acts as a financial carrot—but if universities continue to support the rogue fossil fuel industry, those donations turn into a stick.

While the size of alumni contributions is important to universities, it is the number of donors that’s essential to their reputations. National rankings are partially determined by the percentage of alumni giving, regardless of the size of their gifts. For example, 5% of the U.S. World News & World Report college rankings score is derived from the average percentage of undergraduate alumni of record who donated money to the college or university. If a substantial percentage of alumni divert their donations to the Multi-School Fossil Free Divestment Fund, the message will be heard in presidents’ offices across the country.


The Multi-School Fossil Free Divestment Fund will increase pressure on UW–Madison, through the UW Foundation, to divest from fossil fuels and invest in sustainable energy. The UW Foundation manages the university’s $2.2 billion endowment. The fund allows UW–Madison alumni and community members with a deep concern about climate change to contribute to the university in ways that are morally acceptable to them. We urge the UW Foundation to “guarantee ethical stewardship of gifts received,” as stated in its mission, by stopping investment in companies that threaten the future. Join us by downloading and mailing a letter telling the UW-Madison it’s time to divest from fossil fuels.

Tar Sands Campaign

The Tar Sands Campaign is fighting Enbridge tar sands pipelines in Wisconsin. Our aims are to block expansion of Line 61 and to halt plans for an adjacent Line 66. We support efforts led by those most impacted, including tribes, landowners, and affected community members.

Divestment Campaign

2016 was the hottest year on record. The Divestment Team focuses on convincing institutions that investments in fossil fuel are not only ethically and fiscally irresponsible, but are literally wrecking the planet we call home—all for profit. Banks are our current focus since without their support, dirty pipeline projects can't get funded.

Community Energy Campaign

The Community Energy Team is focused on taking action on and responsibility for our own fossil fuel use. We work to create and change policies that impact our energy use and nurture a culture of reducing energy use and using clean, renewable energy to reduce our carbon footprint.