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2016 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Variety - The Children's Charity of Wisconsin

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Developmentally Disabled Centers, Disabilities, Education, Human Services, Philanthropy, Philanthropy, Charity & Voluntarism Promotion

Mission: Providing life-enriching assistance to Wisconsin children challenged by physical disabilities.

Target demographics: Variety serves Wisconsin children who are challenged by physical disabilities, 21 years of age and younger and whose needs are not met by other sources, including family, school, insurance and service program resources.

Direct beneficiaries per year: In 2016, Variety provided funding for 53 requests of life-changing equipment, therapy, adaptive bicycles, and other items with a retail value of $68,000 through our Freedom Program. We hosted 66 events through the Future Program with more than 2,500 participants. We hosted 20 families for Chatter Matters! Communication Camp.

Geographic areas served: Wisconsin


The Variety Freedom Program encompasses mobility, communications and experiences. The Freedom Program exists to help children with physical challenges obtain confidence, freedom and independence by funding durable medical equipment, such as wheelchairs, walkers, van lifts, house ramps, adaptive car seats and strollers, specially-equipped bicycles and tricycles, bath equipment and stair lifts, for those with the greatest financial need.

The Variety Future Kids Program provides memorable educational and play experiences that would likely be inaccessible to children with physical challenges due to mobility or financial restrictions. The program takes children and their immediate family members on fun, free outings.

Chatter Matters! Communication Camp is a residential camp for children who use speech generating devices and their entire family to become better communicators in a fun, traditional camp setting.

Community Stories

4 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

1 Kay R.1


Rating: 5

A member for over 40 years, I have watched Variety grow from a Little-known club run by an executive director, board members, and volunteers to a well-organized Charity. Back in the 80’s, my husband, then the chief barker ( president) personally delivered a check to a family in northern Wisconsin with a disabled child so they could afford to buy Christmas presents for their children. Today, the scope of Variety’s work has grown into bigger and better things. With corporate help, ramps have been erected to make homes accessible for children with disabilities, hundreds of adaptive bikes have been donated so special needs kids can be like normal kids. Each summer Variety sponsors a Chatter Matters camp to aid families learn to communicate with children with serious communication disabilities.

Although Variety is an international charity, all money raised from the numerous events Variety holds throughout each year are used to help families in Wisconsin.


Rating: 5

I attended Variety's annual luncheon this afternoon. I haven’t been able to stop thinking about the stories, and information about what Variety does for children. What I think makes your organization so unique is that you aren’t raising money to help fund research (don’t get me wrong, I do think that’s important too) but you are just trying to find creative ways to help kids with disabilities feel more like other kids! What a loving and caring approach that is.

So in short, I have been moved beyond belief and I want to get involved! Please let me know what you need help with! I think it is absolutely amazing what you do to help disabled children and their entire families! I am so glad I was able to be there today to witness first-hand the look on Carson’s face when he saw his new blue bike! I will never forget it!

Review from Guidestar


Rating: 5

I have had the opportunity to work closely with Variety as a fundraising partner for over ten years and have personally witnessed their work in action. The passion and dedication of everyone involved in this organization is nothing short of inspirational. Gerise and her team are enthusiastic, thoughtful, caring and selfless about their cause. The children and families who benefit from their work are the true evidence of the success of Variety's mission. I haven't been part of a Variety event where every child in the room hasn't had a smile from ear to ear, which certainly speaks volumes. Whether it's taking kids to the movies, providing bikes to children with special needs or securing funding to remodel a home for wheelchair accessibility, it's clear that this organization has it's heart in exactly the right place. I am proud to partner with Variety and look forward to helping them positively impact the lives of more families.


Rating: 5

Our company has had the fortunate opportunity to help out Variety over this past year on a few projects. The dedication and passion that Gerise, Molly and Nicole all have for this organization can be seen quickly as we discuss some of the issues and projects. The commitment to doing their best and helping the families and children with their special needs is incredible. The work that Variety does for the children is unbelievable! It was so great and heartwarming to see the smile on the young boy’s face that we were able to help out earlier this year as well as the deep gratitude that the parents had for the help they received to make their sons life just a little easier. It has been a pleasure to be a part of this organization and we look forward to continuing to help wherever possible. Keep up the great work!