January 2019
From Laura and Dale

We write to you today as the current chair and immediate past chair of the Board of Directors of the  Montana Community Foundation (MCF). We s hare a deep belief in the power of philanthropy and the adage that anyone can be a philanthropist -- at any level for any worthy cause. This inclusive  perspective and the focus on helping donors achieve their philanthropic dreams is what drew both of us to support  MCF, as donors and volunteers. For more than 30 years now, Montana Community Foundation has worked tirelessly to create permanent philanthropy and build stronger communities in our great state. Since our founding in 1988, MCF has reinvested more than $61 million in Montana through grants, scholarships, and more - all made possible by myriad individual philanthropists from Montana and beyond. 

In this month's newsletter, you'll read about some of those things - the more than $400,000 we have available in scholarships, our annual endowment payout so many nonprofits rely on, and grants available from some of the incredible organizations we've had the pleasure to build relationships with and support over the years.  

As all of us turn to the next chapter with the beginning of a new year, MCF is also turning to the next chapter with a change in board leadership. While leadership may be changing and new perspectives and ideas along with it, what will not change is our commitment to donors, grantees, and our many partners. Our mission, to cultivate a culture of giving so  Montana communities can flourish, will not change either.  

Perhaps the greatest opportunity we have is the transfer of wealth from one generation to the next. The study we commissioned and supported in 2010 estimated that $123 billion dollars would transfer over the next 50 years, but where will that money go? Will any of it remain in the communities where it was created and for those communities? We certainly hope so and we strive every day to ensure that happens through endowed philanthropy. Today, more than $62 million has been permanently endowed at MCF for the benefit of Montana. 

In our efforts to create permanent charitable wealth, one of the most important tools we have at MCF and you have as philanthropists and nonprofit organizations, is the Montana Charitable Endowment Tax Credit. The credit is once again up for renewal this year in the legislature. Sponsored by Senator Mark Blasdel and supported by us, the Montana Nonprofit Association, the Montana Taxpayers Association, the Montana Chamber of Commerce, Montana Society of CPAs, and many others, SB 111 renews the credit and has just begun working its way through committee. This credit is invaluable for our state. It helps ensure charitable dollars stay in Montana for Montana. We urge you to contact your district's legislators in the House and Senate and urge them to join us in supporting this important legislation. 

In closing, let us both thank you for your partnership, trust, and support of the Montana Community Foundation and its board throughout the years. More importantly, thank you for supporting philanthropy in the Last Best Place. 


Laura Brehm 
Chair, Board of Directors, 2019 

Dale Woolhiser 
Immediate Past Board Chair, 2018 
Scholarships! Scholarships! Scholarships! Apply today!

Don't miss out on this opportunity and please share it with students who may be interested! We have begun accepting scholarship applications for the 2019-20 academic year. Last year, MCF awarded more than $430,000 in scholarships to 138 worthy Montana students. These scholarships are made possible by the generous donors who have established scholarship funds at MCF.

Scholarship awards generally range between $500 and $5,000, some of which are renewable for multiple years. Qualifications vary widely, resulting in scholarship eligibility for a diverse range of students. Both traditional and nontraditional Montana students are encouraged to apply. Students can apply online with a submission deadline for most applications of March 15, 2019.

To apply or for detailed information on eligibility, deadlines and awards for specific scholarships, visit or contact Scholarship Manager Jenny Stark at (406) 441-4946 or
New MCF Board Officers  

In addition to our new board members Leonard Smith and Tom McGree, the MCF board also elected new board officers. 

Laura Brehm has over 30 years of nonprofit experience in higher education, arts organizations, land conservation and other organizations. She was the president and CEO of The University of Montana Foundation from 2003-2013. Previously, Laura was the national vice president for development for the Trust for Public Land, overseeing fundraising programs across the country. She also spent 15 years in senior advancement positions at her alma mater, the University of California, Berkeley. When she left in Berkeley in 2000, she was the assistant dean for development and alumni relations at Berkeley's Haas School of Business. She received the Berkeley Citation, the university's highest honor for achievement and notable service. In addition to her degree from Berkeley, she has an executive education certificate from the London School of Business and Finance in Strategic Innovation. Laura became an independent philanthropy advisor in 2013. Her work is focused in Montana. She is active in community and civic affairs. She serves as a member of the Northern Rockies Advisory Board of the Trust for Public Land and on the board of UM's Grizzly Riders.   

Kelly Bruggeman of Billings will serve as Vice Chair. Kelly is a Vice President with First Interstate BancSystem and the Executive Director of the First Interstate BancSystem Foundation. Kelly was a founding board member of two statewide Montana nonprofit organizations - NeighborWorks Montana and the Montana Financial Education Coalition, of which she is still a board member. Kelly has served on the boards of Philanthropy Northwest and the Montana Nonprofit Association. She is also a member of Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship, Council on Foundation and Philanthropy Northwest. Kelly is a graduate of the University of Montana's School of Business Administration and the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University - Governing the Family Business.

Mary Ann Phipps will serve as Secretary. Mary Ann is a senior tax accountant at CHMS, P.C., an accounting and tax firm in eastern Montana. Her work includes individual, corporate, nonprofit, partnership and estate tax as well as estate planning services. She is an Enrolled Agent with the IRS. Prior to CHMS, Mary Ann worked at the Garfield County Bank in Jordan, MT and is a founding board member of the Garfield County Community Foundation. She attended Brigham Young University and has five children. 

Karen Latka will serve as Treasurer. Karen formerly worked for the Foundation for the Diocese of Helena as an Accountant and Office Manager. Prior to this, she served as the Parish Financial Consultant. Before moving to Helena, Karen served on the board of directors for Basin State Bank headquartered in Stanford, MT with branches in Lewistown and Geraldine. Karen's background also includes work in the banking industry in the Seattle area and two years in finance for The Boeing Company. She grew up on a ranch outside of Stanford and attended Montana State University where she earned a degree in Business Finance with a minor in Economics. Karen served as Vice President and President of the Rossiter Elementary School Parent Council and served on the Superintendent's Advisory Council.
Grants Available to Benefit Darby

MCF announces the opening of a grant cycle to benefit the community and residents of Darby. Grants will be made from the Darby Town Community Endowment Fund, established at MCF by Richard and Barbara Ackerman in 1999.

Applicants must be either a 501(c)(3) nonprofit or an exempt governmental unit. Grants will be up to $5,000. While grants must be used for projects benefiting the Darby community and residents, the grantee organization does not need to be based in Darby. Only one application is allowed per organization.

Eligible projects must provide a direct, ongoing benefit to local residents, be sustainable, and address important, unmet needs. Ineligible projects include one-time events, conferences, workshops, planning, research, untested projects, and partisan or sectarian activities.

Grant requests are reviewed by the Darby Town Community Endowment Fund Committee. The grant process is competitive; incomplete applications will not be considered. Grant applications will be accepted January 31, 2019 - March 1, 2019

To apply for a grant, access the online application at Only online applications will be accepted. For questions, please contact MCF Director of Operations & Grants Jessica Stewart-Kuntz at (406) 441-4950 or
Annual Endowment Distribution Beneficiaries - Please take note!

We are once again in the early stages of our annual endowment distribution process. Here are some important things you should know:

1. 2019 Distribution Date

We plan to make ACH (electronic) payments on Friday, March 1, 2019. However, while payment will be initiated on Friday, you probably won't see the distribution in your account until early the next week, depending on how quickly your bank processes the deposit.

2. Current ACH Form
Distributions are made via ACH payments to your organization's bank account. If your bank account information has CHANGED since March 1, 2018, please email Cathy Cooney at and request an ACH form and return it (by mail or email) no later than January 31, 2019.
If your bank was sold/merged with another bank, we need a new ACH form, even if you didn't change your accounts.
If nothing has changed or if you recently sent in a new ACH form, you don't need to do anything. 

3. Confirmation letter
After the electronic payment is sent, we send you a (hard-copy) letter with:
  • the amount of the distribution(s)
  • the fund(s) making the distribution
  • mailing address for the donor, if the distribution is from a family designated fund* unless it is an anonymous donor, in which case, you can send a thank you directly to MCF and we will pass it along for you.
Please give a copy of the confirmation letter to:
  • Your Accountant/CFO/Controller - This person needs the information about the ACH deposit and will need the letter for your year-end financial statements.
  • Your Development Director - This person needs to send a thank you note to the fund donor, if your distribution is from a family designated fund.*
  • In some cases, you may not be the ultimate beneficiary (for example, we sometimes issue payments to a county government, who in turn provides funding to a volunteer fire department). If this is the case, please make sure and inform the organization the funding actually benefits as they will not receive a notification from us.
If your mailing address has changed since March 2018, please send your new address to Cathy Cooney at

4. Thanking your Donors
If your organization receives an annual distribution from a family designated fund*, please thank the donor, but do NOT send a gift acknowledgement letter since the donor gets no tax benefits from the distribution to your organization. A hand-written note is an ideal way to say thank you.
If you'd like to learn more, we did a webinar in September on this topic entitled "Gifts through Community Foundations: The Where, Why and How of Donor Stewardship and Cultivation."  Here's the recording link:
Not sure what to do? Contact Cathy Cooney at or (406) 441-4954 and she can help.

5. Quarterly Statements on the Portal
MCF discontinued paper statements 3 years ago. If your nonprofit has an agency or agency designated* fund at MCF, you can download your quarterly endowment statements on the donor portal. (If you are receiving a distribution from a family designated* endowment, you won't have access to quarterly statements for that family's fund.)
Need an invitation to register? Not sure if you are registered on the portal or how to access the portal? Want to add an additional staff person to the portal or update the staff contact? No problem! Contact Cathy Cooney at or (406) 441-4954.

6. New handout about agency, agency designated endowments

We have a new handout for our agency and agency designated* endowment holders with information we hope will be helpful. If you would like a copy, please contact Cathy Cooney at

7. Who do you call?

Questions? Concerns? Total Confusion? As the Director of Donor Services, Cathy Cooney is your "go-to" person at MCF. Call or email her at or (406) 441-4954.
Thank you for your partnership with Montana Community Foundation!
*Family Designated endowments = established by individuals or families to benefit their favorite charities
*Agency endowments = made up of contributions from your nonprofit's own unrestricted money
*Agency Designated endowments = made up of contributions from individual or corporate donors
Grants by Girls

Here's another great funding opportunity that also helps encourage youth philanthropy.

Every year hundreds of girls gather from across Montana and Wyoming to attend the Girls for a Change Summit, a one day event devoted to encouraging high school-age girls to step out of their comfort zones and experience a day of incredible fun. Girls choose four amazing workshops to attend, experience two inspiring keynote speeches, and engage with their peers for a day of new experiences and self-exploration.

Throughout the Summit, girls put their vision for making the world a better place into action through the Grants by Girls program. For this program, Thrive has teamed up with First Interstate BancSystem Foundation to offer Montana-based nonprofits who are working on projects that benefit girls in local communities the chance to win a $1,000 grant. During the Summit, girls will enhance their awareness of philanthropy and community engagement, express their opinions in deciding which proposals to fund, and support projects from around the state enhancing girls' leadership.

The application deadline is February 1st, so apply today!
Montana Healthcare Foundation Announces 2019 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 2019 has been announced.

They will consider proposals in three areas:
  • Partnerships for Better Health
  • American Indian Health
  • Behavioral 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 in 2019, with a possibility of a second opportunity in the fall.

MHCF will be holding an informative webinar on Wednesday, February 13th at 1 p.m. to go over the details of this call for proposals and how to apply. Register here.

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 saw an amazing 110 grants totaling nearly $190,000 from generous donors to benefit hardworking nonprofits. We hope you too will consider putting your generosity to work in Montana by supporting the charities and causes YOU care about!
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