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Quixote Foundation Records

Identifier: MSS117

Content Description

The Quixote Foundation Records consist of eight series: Board Meetings, Administrative Files, Financial, Subject Files, Associated Organizations, Grant Files, Promotional Materials, and Photographs.

Board Meetings, 1998-2016, consists primarily of agenda booklets distributed to board members at quarterly or thrice-yearly retreats, which contain information about strategic, financial, and operational concerns. Many materials include handwritten notes by Keneta Anderson, as well as official minutes and correspondence relating to board activities. A sub-series includes a variety of large-format paper easel notes from meetings in 2015. When viewed in combination, these materials present the opportunity to examine a variety of perspectives on the organization’s actions; the range of materials available for a single event can offer both a bottom-up and top-down take on philanthropic activity, from private notes to public presentations, from planning statements to after-the-fact summaries. A significant amount of material in the collection relates to the “spend up” celebration held in November, 2016, to commemorate the organization’s final push to expend its full resources. A large story map, produced for a meeting with the think tank Sightline Institute and its founder Alan Durning, is of particular note. This oversized art presents strategies and thematic concerns in pictorial and textual cartoons.

Administrative Files, 1997-2017, includes materials relating to the Quixote Foundation’s operations, policies, bylaws, and strategies, as well as statements of their institutional history and branding concerns. Many of these records came directly from the files of Keneta Anderson or Lenore Hanisch, reflecting their perspectives on the organization. The collection also includes storage devices for digital files pertaining to Quixote operations and backed up from institutional computers.

Financial, 1997-2015, is primarily the 990-PF tax forms and supporting documents filed by the organization, as well as investment information.

Subject Files, 2004-2010, contain information gathered and maintained by the Quixote team pertaining to the primary areas of interest for their funding concerns. This includes publications and conference materials, as well as internal organizational notes.

The Quixote Foundation and its board members were actively involved with sister foundations and core grantees, and Associated Organizations, 2003-2015, contains records of those interactions, including correspondence and conference proceedings. They were most heavily involved with the Election Verification Network and Northwest Reproductive Justice Collaborative, which the records reflect.

Grant Files, 1998-2017, make up the bulk of the collection of materials. These contain correspondence, reports, grant proposals and contracts, and financial information relating to the various projects and institutions funded by Quixote during their years of operation.

The Promotional Materials series contains a variety of brochures, mailers, marketing materials, and oversized advertising boards utilized by the Quixote Foundation, much of it undated. This includes a substantial amount of realia, most of it collected from the “Free, Fair, and Healthy” celebration held in November, 2016. The material gives a snapshot view of the quirky, fun nature of the organization, and their signature “Don” icon of a metal knight tilting at windmills appears throughout. This collection could be of particular use to researchers interested in the material culture of philanthropy and the ties between institutional culture and philanthropic missions.

The Photographs series includes photographs of “Team Q” at various events and retreats, particularly the “Free, Fair, and Healthy” celebration held in November, 2016.


  • 1997 - 2018


Language of Materials

The materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open to the public.

Conditions Governing Use

The copyright law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code) govern the making of photocopies or other reproductions of copyrighted material.

Historical Note

The Quixote Foundation was established in 1997, originally in Madison, Wisconsin, by its founder and president, Arthur Stuart Hanisch, commonly known as Stuart Hanisch. The organization was originally structured to continue his personal philanthropic tradition based on a progressive world view, and its initial incorporators and officers were Arthur Stuart Hanisch, his son Erik M. Hanisch as Vice President and Treasurer, and investment advisor Paul R. Soglin as Secretary. From its start, the Quixote Foundation centered around the goals and motivations of the Hanisch founding family, with a mission “To promote the health and well-being of the planet earth and all of its inhabitants.” Its first gift, on June 15, 1998, was a $25,000 grant to the Wilderness Society for protection of a 1.7 million acre wildland ecosystem. Early philanthropic activities focused heavily on local, Wisconsin-based projects, while simultaneously incorporating regional and international giving.

In 2002, Stuart Hanisch passed away, shifting the timeline and focus of the organization, which moved its base of operations to Seattle, Washington. His son Erik and daughter-in-law Lenore Hanisch took over operations of the family foundation, ultimately adopting a limited-life policy, with strategic plans in place to spend the Quixote Foundation’s entire philanthropic budget. This resolve to hold the foundation to a 20-year life span took on new life as a “Spend Up” strategy within the organization’s vocabulary. This policy dictated much of their activities and funding choices from 2010 until the Quixote Foundation officially shut down operations in 2017.

The Quixote Foundation self-describes its mission as supporting five major fields of philanthropic interest: 1) independent media and media reform; 2) voter rights and election integrity; 3) reproductive rights and related women’s issues; 4) environmental equity, protection, and preservation; and 5) equality and civil rights. Major grantees receiving continued support over the years include Art Resources International, the Center for Media Justice, Media Democracy Fund, the Election Verification Network, the National Wildlife Federation, Planned Parenthood, Sightline Institute, the Wilderness Society, and the Women Donors Network, among many others. The organization also funded many local programs and national initiatives, sometimes with one-time grants for specific projects (for example, the “Girl Neighborhood Power” project of the Atwood Community Center in 2000).

The Quixote Foundation relied on close-knit relationships among its constituents, dubbed “Team Q” internally. Their major activities over the years focused around the activities of its Board of Directors, including Founder Stuart Hanisch until his death; Board President Erik Hanisch; Board Member and Senior Director of Engagement and Partnerships Lenore Hanisch; and Board Member and Executive Director June Wilson. The Quixote Foundation worked regularly with consultants Keneta Anderson, Bryan Jeffrey Graham, and Zarina Parpia, and its activities and meetings usually included a number of “core grantees.”

The foundation’s name is a nod to Don Quixote by Miguel Cervantes, described on their website as “a rash romantic knight who travels the country taking on causes whose importance only he understands.” Corporate meetings and literature often revolved around the theme of tilting at windmills and the motto, “Free, Fair, and Healthy,” with a mission of seeing “free people in fair societies on a healthy planet.” Brand associations and the tagline “practice idealism” were designed to encourage putting values into action, countering the idea that practice and idealism were two separate activities. The “Don” icon found on promotional literature derives from a metal Don Quixote statue belonging to Stuart Hanisch, with its sentimental echoes and humor attempting to express “the fun and open side” of the Quixote Foundation.


12 Cubic Feet (10 record cartons, 1 oversized box, 1 oversized folder in a drawer, 4 tubes/spools of oversized papers) : Oversized box contains realia; objects are variously composed of cardboard, magnetic particles, textile, wood, and paper.


The Quixote Foundation was established by Arthur Stuart Hanisch as a family foundation in 1997, and after his death in 2002 the organization adopted a limited-life strategy that resulted in full expenditure of all philanthropic funds by 2017. The foundation espoused a progressive world view, with a majority of grantees working for media reform, election integrity, reproductive rights, environmental equity, and social equality.

The records consist predominantly of grant files, with other materials including board meeting minutes, Forms 990-PF, publications, and other materials created by or for the organization.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Presented by the Quixote Foundation, May 2017-June 2017. A2016/17-039, A2016/17-054.


Hanisch, Lenore. "Giving It Away Now to Make the Most Difference." Tactical Philanthropy, January 3, 2011.
Jacobs, Deborah L. "Foundations with a Limited Life." New York Times, November 11, 2010.
Quixote Foundation.


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Quixote Foundation Records, 1997-2018
Processed by Catherine Walsh
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Repository Details

Part of the Philanthropic Studies Archives Repository

IUPUI University Library
755 W. Michigan St.
Room 0133
Indianapolis IN 46202 USA