For several years, members of the community of Eau Claire discussed the need for a foundation in Eau Claire to provide a vehicle for financial planning for charitable donors and recipients. Their vision was an organization that would work through other community non-profit organizations without competing with them for funds.
In January 1997, the Board of Trustees established a goal of finding 25 individuals by December 31, 1998 to become members of the Society of Founders. Each member was asked to give a $10,000 (or more) unrestricted contribution, payable over five years, without reducing their prior community support. A total of 64 members made total pledges of over one million dollars, and the Eau Claire Community Foundation became a reality.