July 2017
From Mary's Desk

We believe everyone can be a philanthropist. Something we hear from people when speaking to them about establishing a fund here at MCF is "Well I couldn't do that - only wealthy people have the money to create an endowment!" That simply isn't the case though. Sure, everyone would like to have enough money in the bank, stocks to sell, real estate, etc. to simply write a check and establish a fund.  Let time be on your side! There are plenty of people who have created family endowments by making gifts over time. By making annual contributions over a five-year period, establishing a family legacy is more attainable that you might have thought otherwise.

The Engler Endowment to benefit the Montana Audubon was created and funded through the passionate, hard work of Gail Engler. She made the most of her connections and found others who were passionate and willing to help.

One of the most common ways donors establish funds is through a series of planned gifts. With a $25,000 minimum to reach over five years, making an annual $5,000 gift is something attainable for many. On top of establishing a fund, planned givers are also able to take advantage of incredibly generous tax savings like the Montana Endowment Tax Credit. If someone could offset your state income tax and instead allow you to use that money to create your own donor-advised family fund to benefit the charities you care about, it's hard to imagine anyone not wanting to make planned gifts.

Creating your own family fund is achievable today. The impact is forever. You can perpetuate your support for the things you care about long after you're gone and you can pass the fund along to your children or grandchildren. It's an incredible way to teach future generations in your family how to be a philanthropist - a gift that "keeps on giving" not only to them in participating in charitable giving, but also to the nonprofit organizations making such an incredible impact around our state. Believe me, those organizations will still need your support after you're gone and a family fund is a great way to accomplish it.

From a practical standpoint, a family fund is a financially efficient way to conduct your charitable giving. It doesn't come with the large administrative burden that private foundations do and there are clear tax and financial advantages as well.

Perhaps it sounds clich√©, but at MCF we are helping make people's dreams for Montana come true. Gail's dream was to honor her amazing parents and ensure their legacy of giving. What's your dream for Montana? Whatever it may be, let us find a way to help make it a reality. 
 
Sincerely,
Mary K. Rutherford, MA, CFRE
President & CEO 
Montana Audubon Conservation Fund Takes Flight

Gail Engler, left, and Montana Audubon's Interim Director Norane Freistadt, right. Photo courtesy of MT Audubon.
For new donors establishing permanently endowed funds here at MCF, the challenge of meeting a $25,000 minimum can seem daunting. Even with the freedom to raise that money over a five-year period, some donors might balk at the task. There are a few good reasons for the fund minimum, however.
 
With a current payout rate of 4.5%, $25,000 provides $1,125 in annual distribution to support the charitable beneficiary. While this may seem like it's not a great deal of money, it is still enough to make an important impact on an organization, especially when considering that amount should continue to grow and the distribution will be made forever. The minimum also provides a good starting point for investment growth potential. A fund balance of just a few thousand dollars will almost certainly remain that way for many years if increases are made through investment earnings alone.
 
You may recall a story we published in the September 2016 edition of Infinity about the George and Laurene Engler Montana Audubon Conservation Fund. It was submitted by Gail Engler, who established the fund to honor her parents and their legacy of supporting and furthering conservation in Montana. The specific purpose of the fund is to create sustainable funding to monitor, study and conserve Montana's birds, including preservation, enhancement and restoration of Montana's avian habitats and promote land use policies and legislation consistent with these conservation goals.
 
The Engler Audubon Fund and Gail Engler herself are proof positive that creating and funding a permanent charitable endowment can be accomplished quickly and with great success; all it takes is a little hard work, dedication and motivation. It also helps to create and/or foster a good relationship with the benefitting charity, as they will hopefully be supportive in promoting the fund to donors who are already interested in supporting the charity.
 
Since June of last year, more than $28,000 has been raised for the fund, meeting the fund minimum in less than a year. How did she do it? She worked hard to promote the fund and let others know just how important it is. The Montana Audubon helped promote the endowment through their website and other avenues, while the Upper Missouri Breaks Audubon offered a 2017 match up to $5,000.
 
"It has been a pleasure and an honor to work with the staff and Board members of Montana Audubon, Upper Missouri Breaks Audubon and Nick Dietzen from the Montana Community Foundation to help achieve fundraising goals so quickly for this fund," said Gail. "I don't picture myself as being an expert in fundraising by any means. It helped that I was a long-time member of the Upper Missouri Breaks Audubon chapter which my Dad helped co-found, and that I had kept in touch with and supported them and Montana Audubon for a number of years. The groundwork and foundation was laid for me to promote these connections as far as fundraising to support our common interest, namely Montana Audubon. Ask if someone or some organization will provide matching funds to help reach your goal as people are often more motivated to donate if they know their dollars will be matched! Reach out to those people you know, who support your cause and develop a plan from there. Believe in yourself and the possibility of achieving your dream!"  
 
Gail was recently honored with the Montana Audubon's Outstanding Achievement Award for the work she's done to help create a permanent source of charitable funding for this great organization. Her dedication should be an inspiration to us all - donors, charitable organizations, and everyone else who works to help create permanent philanthropy in Montana.
Social Justice and Blaine County Grant Cycles Open Aug. 1

We're happy to announce the opening of grant cycles to benefit projects promoting social justice in Montana and Blaine County. Grant applications will be accepted Aug. 8 - Sept. 7, 2017.

Social Justice
Grants will be made from the Social Justice Montana Fund, established at MCF in 1997 with a challenge grant from the Otto Bremer Foundation that was matched by donations from Montanans across the state.
 
Applicants must be either a 501(c)(3) nonprofit or an exempt governmental unit. Grants will range in size from $1,000 to $5,000. Only one application is allowed per organization.
 
Successful grantees will have the following characteristics:
  • Promote social justice in Montana.
  • Work to understand and address the root causes of the issues, not just the symptoms.
  • Sees itself as part of a larger movement for social change, and works towards strengthening that movement.
  • Preference will be given to projects that engage Montana's youth in the work of social justice.
Eligible projects must provide a direct benefit to Montana residents, be sustainable, and address important, unmet needs. Ineligible projects include partisan or sectarian activities.

Blaine County
Grants will be made from the Blaine County Community Foundation Fund, established at MCF by Warren Ross in 1997. Financial support for this grant program also comes from the Ross 87 Ranch Endowment Fund, established by Warren Ross as well.
 
Applicants must be either a 501(c)(3) nonprofit or an exempt governmental unit. Grants will range in size from $1,000 to $3,000. While grants must be used for projects benefiting communities or residents in Blaine County, the grantee organization does not need to be based in Blaine County. Only one application is allowed per organization.
 
Eligible projects must provide a direct benefit to local residents, be sustainable, and address important, unmet needs. Ineligible projects include conferences, workshops, planning, research, untested projects, and partisan or sectarian activities.

Grant requests for both funds are reviewed by the MCF Grants & Scholarships Committee. The grant process is competitive; incomplete applications will not be considered. Grant applications will be accepted Aug. 7 - Sept. 8, 2017.
 
To apply for either grant, access the online application at mtcf.org/grants beginning August 7. Only online applications will be accepted. For questions, please contact MCF Director of Operations & Grants Jessica Stewart-Kuntz at (406) 441-4950 or jessica@mtcf.org.
Save the Date! 8th Annual Community Foundation Convening

Join us for the 8th Annual Community Foundation Convening!

This year's convening will be held Tuesday, September 26th at the University of Montana
in Missoula.

This convening promises to accelerate your learning and engage your community foundation in community leadership.
  • How do we identify ways to serve our community?
  • How do we zero-in on our community's crucial priorities?
  • How can our community foundation respond to local challenges using community philanthropy?
  • How do we challenge underlying assumptions about how community foundations approach our work?
Watch this page for details on the agenda and registration in the near future!
Generosity at Work

What does 20 grants totaling nearly $100K look like? It looks like generosity at work! A small sample of the types of causes benefiting this month include children, churches, seniors, pets, wildlife, a film festival, history and more. 

Imagine what even $1,000 could do for your organization as a nonprofit or what even $1,000 could do for an organization you love as a donor. Don't wait to start making an impact forever.

If you want to put your generosity to work, visit the Giving section of our website to learn more.
Let's Get Personal

Personality type matters, even when it comes to supporting community causes. Your "social impact personality type" is especially important as you gear up to structure your donor-advised fund. A donor-advised fund is a terrific vehicle to help you and your family organize gifts to charities, whether you identify as an "investor," a "connector," or an "activator." 

Why should you ask the professionals at MCF about opening a donor-advised fund in the first place, though? Donor-advised funds are the fastest growing philanthropic planning vehicle in today's wealth management marketplace. Donor-advised funds are popular because they allow an individual or family to make a tax-deductible transfer that qualifies as a charitable contribution, and then later recommend gifts to favorite charities from the fund when the time is right. A donor-advised fund operates a lot like a checking account just for charity, except it's established according to the IRS guidelines that create the tax advantages. Plus, when you establish a donor-advised fund at MCF, you know you are setting up your charitable giving to make the biggest impact in the community through the causes you love the most. 

So how does personality type fit into the equation? People who lean toward the investor personality type are typically a good match for setting up a donor-advised fund to maximize tax benefits. If you're the investor type, you probably enjoy acting independently as much as you enjoy "doing good" with a group. You look at the bottom line when you invest in the community, both from the perspective of your own financial objectives as well as those of the nonprofit organization you support. In other words, you're looking at charitable giving and social impact as an investment to improve the lives of others, and you want to maximize results not only for the people you intend to help, but also for your own tax and estate planning portfolio. Investors love the elegance of the donor-advised fund to achieve many goals through one vehicle.

Does it work for non-investor types, though? You bet! Activators, who like to focus on a particular cause, are also well-suited for a donor-advised fund because they can gain valuable insights about community impact by working closely with the team at MCF. Connectors love donor-advised funds because they enjoy the opportunities through community foundations to get together with other donors and involve their friends and family members in their favorite charitable pursuits.

Investor, activator, connector. Where donor-advised funds are concerned, everybody's got a good side. What's yours?

Learn more about how to support all your favorite charities with your own endowed fund today.
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