January 2018
From Mary's Desk

Welcome to 2018!

You know the saying, "Don't focus on the past, you're not going there." Yet, I believe there's often a lesson to be learned when reflecting on past experiences. Things don't always go as planned, but that doesn't mean goals and objectives need to change.

Back in early 2015, we told you about a new nonprofit organization called The Nest, which focused on providing a safe and secure environment for young pregnant and parenting moms and their children in Lake County and on the Flathead Indian Reservation. We happily announced large grants supporting their mission. The Nest faced some serious challenges as a new organization. Rather than give up, they sought help, changed and carried on. You'll read more about The Nest and their journey below, but what their story has made me think about is resiliency and adaptability of the nonprofit sector.

As a nonprofit corporation, our mission is focused on serving the public good by increasing philanthropy that benefits Montana forever. That's one thing common among all nonprofit organizations - serving the public good. Unlike our friends in the for-profit sector which focuses on increasing shareholder value, nonprofits are bound by the non-distribution constraint which ensures a focus on public benefit rather than private individual financial return. While nonprofit organizations' missions and goals are noble, we sometimes face incredible adversity.

One thing I love so dearly about the nonprofit sector is our ability to adapt in the face of that adversity and to show strength when times get tough. Even more so, I treasure our ability to help each other coupled with a sincere willingness to do so. The nonprofit sector forms a community where mutual aid is part of who we are and why we exist.

Whether you're a nonprofit organization that has helped another nonprofit, one that has received help, or a donor who has supported a nonprofit organization, you're part of a much larger community of people who - cliché or not - are trying to make the world a better place. I think that's pretty amazing. We are proud to be one small part of it.

Mary K. Rutherford, MA, CFRE
President & CEO 
MCF Distributes $600,000 in Montana Wildfire Relief Fund Grants

We're excited to announce just over $600,000 in grants have been distributed from the Montana Wildfire Relief Fund. The fund originated as a partnership between MCF and the Montana Television Network and is dedicated to supporting wildfire relief efforts following Montana's unprecedented 2017 wildfire season. Launched in early September 2017, the fund has grown through the extraordinary generosity of individuals, businesses, private foundations, and many others across the country.
"We're grateful to have played an important role in not only receiving these charitable gifts, but also in administering the grants," said MCF President and CEO Mary Rutherford. "We're looking forward to seeing the positive impact these funds will make on the recipient organizations and in turn, the positive impact made on communities across Montana affected by the fires."
Grant amounts range from $600 to $15,000 and benefit 81 organizations across Montana, primarily rural volunteer fire departments. The majority of grant requests being fulfilled will be used to purchase much needed personal protection equipment (PPE), radios, equipment such as hoses and nozzles, and other safety gear.
"Maintaining good communications on the scene of a wildland fire is an essential component of firefighter safety," said Red Lodge Fire Chief Tom Kuntz. "Fulfillment of our grant request ensures our volunteers have dependable and adequate radio equipment in our apparatus, and will greatly increase their ability to operate safely and effectively when fighting wildland fires in our jurisdiction and throughout the State of Montana."
In addition to fire departments, other organizations that provided direct relief to victims of wildfires or that are located in a community that suffered losses, such as structural damage or economic hardship, will also receive funding.
"The Montana Community Foundation's grant toward the Bob Marshall Music Festival means so much to Seeley Lake," said Seeley Lake Community Foundation Board Member Emily Rindal. "After a long, hard fire season it gives our community something to look forward to. The festival will increase tourism, support the business vibrancy, boost morale and let everyone know that Seeley Lake still stands after the fire and is as beautiful as ever."

For a full list of recipients, visit
Building a New Nest

In early 2015, we were excited to share a story about a new nonprofit organization called The Nest located in St. Ignatius, whose mission was providing a safe and secure environment for young pregnant and parenting moms and their children in Lake County and on the Flathead Indian Reservation. Substance abuse is a huge problem in the area they serve, but substance abuse wasn't something they had prepared for and therapeutic assistance wasn't something they envisioned as a service they would offer. Ultimately, it wasn't something they were equipped to handle. 

That, however, didn't change the fact that the need was there. The Nest turned down many applicants because of active drug addiction. But they soon realized that a therapeutic home would provide a safer place for families with the policies, procedures, staff and resources needed to serve those in need. 

The Nest set out on a mission to adapt and change, rather than give up on their mission. They knew of a home in Missoula, the Carole A. Graham Home, that offered the services they knew were needed in St. Ignatius and the surrounding area. After careful consideration and discussion, The Nest's Board of Directors decide to transfer The Nest home, contents and assets to the Western Montana Mental Health Center, the parent organization of the Carole A. Graham Home. They will operate it as a therapeutic home and continue the mission of The Nest, better equipped now to meet the needs of the community.
Wildfire Disaster Recovery: The Next Chapter

As a result of MCF's work with the Montana Wildfire Relief Fund, the organization has begun additional efforts in disaster recovery. In early December, MCF hosted the Montana Wildfire Early Recovery Workshop with the Center for Disaster Philanthropy and later participated in the Midwest Early Recovery Fund: Wildfires and Vulnerable Populations webinar (see below).  MCF also recently took part in the Montana Disaster and Emergency Services Long Term Recovery Meeting. 

The need for disaster recovery funding and organization became very apparent this past year. In response, MCF will establish a permanent, non-endowed fund dedicated to disaster relief in Montana, providing a mechanism for donors to give money in support of future disaster relief and worthy organizations to receive funding in support of disaster relief efforts.

Apply Today!

Scholarship applications for the  2017-18 academic year are now available. The closing date this year for most scholarships is March 16. Last year, MCF awarded more than $450,000 to 146 students through our scholarship program. 

Each year, MCF awards scholarships ranging from $500 to $5,000 to deserving students across Montana.  Scholarships are made possible by generous scholarship funds established by individual donors and organizations committed to giving back to their community.
While qualifications for each scholarship vary, each student is required to go through a competitive application process to be considered. Some scholarships are renewable, meaning students can apply to receive funding for multiple years.

To apply online, visit For more information or questions, contact Scholarship Manager Jenny Lou Stark.
Expanding a Library and Building Community

Back in March of 2016, we told you about the Judith Basin County Free Library in Stanford, MT. An anonymous donor was generous enough to provide more than $200,000 to help finance a desperately needed building expansion for what has become the heart of the community and surrounding area. 

The library was established in 1945 with 1,500 books after receiving tremendous support from residents across the entire county of Judith Basin. The library's current building was constructed in 1960, with the last addition occurring in 1979.

The new expansion is well underway with new space for a children's room and technology area. 
Our sincere congratulations to the amazing folks who have made this wonderful dream a reality for their community!
New Grant Opportunities: Montana Healthcare Foundation 2018 Call for Proposals

The Montana Healthcare Foundation (MHCF) makes grants to improve the health and well-being of all Montanans. MHCF's call for proposals for 2018 has been announced. 
They will consider proposals in three areas:
  • American Indian Health
  • Behavioral Health
  • Partnerships for Better Health
Each organization may submit up to three distinct applications under this call for proposals.
These grant awards offer significant funding, with grants between $10,000 and $50,000 for projects implemented within a 12-month period, and grants up to $100,000 for projects implemented within a 24-month period. All grants will be awarded through a one-step application process offered twice in 2018, with a possibility of a third opportunity in the fall.
Don't miss out on this incredible funding opportunity for your organization and even if you're not eligible, please share this information with others who might benefit from it. Learn more and apply here.
Generosity at Work

December is always a good month for giving and this past December was no exception. There were 74 grants made representing more than $140,000! Thank you to the hardworking nonprofits serving Montana each and every day and thank you to the generous donors who support those nonprofits.

If you want to put your generosity to work, visit the Giving section of our website to learn more.
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