March 2018
From Mary's Desk

Sometimes I stop and ask myself, "Why are we doing this?" Why is MCF doing the work it does? Why are we helping create a culture of giving so Montana communities can flourish? Why is it important and what difference will it make?

While my initial reaction would be to talk about the future and the good of our state, building strong and vibrant communities through philanthropy, and ensuring stable funding for nonprofit organizations, the real reason and the thing that cuts right to the heart of the matter is standing right in front of me. With a lighthearted laugh and a big toothy grin.

Soloman is my grandson. He's seven and loves sports, cartoons, the outdoors, and electronics. He's the light of my life and at the end of the day, much of what I do in my personal life revolves around him and his future. Whether it's taking him to school, Cub Scouts, YMCA basketball, Jr. PGA golf, Grand Street Theatre, Montana Learning Center, Exploration Works or the million other activities he enjoys, his future is something that not only occupies my day to day life, but also my work and my passion for what we do here at MCF.

While Soloman enriches my life, it's the fabric of the nonprofit community that enriches both of our lives. I cannot imagine what life would be like without the incredible nonprofit organizations in our community. They are the lifeblood of what creates community. They enrich our lives in unimaginable ways. They matter. And they matter a lot.

At MCF, we aren't simply about charitable endowments and planned gifts, local community foundations and strategic partnerships. We aren't just about donors and nonprofits, professional advisors and tax benefits. We're about Soloman. We're about our children and grandchildren. We're about their children and grandchildren. What we do today will have a profound impact on their lives for many years to come.

Mary K. Rutherford, MA, CFRE
President & CEO 
Hay is for Horses...and Cows

Much needed hay is delivered to the Fort Belknap reservation.
We recently began distributing approximately $50,000 in grants from the Montana Disaster Relief Fund to purchase hay and transport that hay to the Fort Belknap and Northern Cheyenne reservations to feed livestock suffering from the extreme winter weather conditions. Based on data from Montana Disaster and Emergency Services, approximately 11,000 cattle and 1,720 horses are in the affected areas. To date, nearly 300 tons of hay has been delivered.
MCF received a $25,000 grant from the American Veterinary Medical Foundation (AVMF) and a $20,000 grant from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals® (ASPCA). Generous donations were received from the Maine State Society for the Protection of Animals, the Washington State Animal Response Team, and a number of individual donors.
MCF has been working with the Montana Departments of Livestock and Agriculture, who worked with groups to secure relief from across the country for livestock, and with RanchAid, a nonprofit organization that aids communities and government agencies in disaster planning in regards to agriculture animal issues and short/long-term recovery support and logistics.
"Working with the State of Montana DES, Montana Community Foundation and other supporting organizations displayed the true heart and spirit of helping animals in their time of greatest need," said RanchAid President Johnathan Cutler. "We're thankful to be a part of the solution and logistics to make that possible."
The Montana Disaster Relief Fund originated as the Montana Wildfire Relief Fund, created in response to the unprecedented wildfire season of 2017. The fund is now used to support disaster relief of all kinds in Montana. Donations to the fund can be made by visiting or by sending a check to P.O. Box 1145, Helena, MT 59624 made out to Montana Community Foundation with Montana Disaster Relief Fund in the memo line.
4 Steps to Take "Doing Good" to the Next Level

When families embark on a journey to make philanthropy a part of their lives across generations, it often starts with simple concepts: Having fun as a family, getting in touch with nature, being authentic and open about values, donating canned goods or clothing to families in need, recycling cardboard and aluminum cans, celebrating every birthday and holiday with a big cake and a gift to charity, buying wrapping paper from the school fundraiser, contributing to a handful of favorite charities--even eating healthy food and appreciating every peaceful moment. In today's social impact culture, "doing good" is a powerful way to create a sense of  belonging--in the family, the community, and the world.

Community foundations help you take it to the next level, so both you and your community get the most out of your family's social impact experiences. Here are four steps that make it all work. 

You're good! 
Studies show us that before a person can become deeply engaged, emotionally and intellectually, in a community or a cause, or even philanthropy in general, he or she must feel affirmed that what he or she is doing already to "do good" is in fact good. This includes not only giving to charities, of course, but also volunteering in the community, recycling and respecting the environment, donating canned goods, serving on boards of directors or committees, and attending community events. It can also include purchasing products that support a cause, marketing favorite charities through social media, and even committing to personal and family health and wellness. Community foundations know you are making a difference in lots of ways. 

A little learning goes a long way
Community foundations can give you the educational resources you need. Learning about philanthropy is in high demand across all generations. Students are interested in techniques that result in lives actually being changed for the better. Parents want to know how to teach their young children about doing good. Grandparents want to know how to leverage philanthropy to create a multi-generational platform for preserving family values. Young professionals are seeking new ways to access business information about nonprofits, especially online. Corporate executives seek techniques for charitable planning that meet their tax and estate planning objectives. Your community foundation can help with all of this, and more.

Get inspired!
Stories are powerful. Your family's unique story about making an impact will inspire others to pursue their own charitable objectives, too. The cause selected is an important part of any story. Other factors include how the experience with philanthropy made the giver feel and the ways the giver's life was enriched by feelings of gratitude and the ability to help people in need. Your community foundation wants to understand your own story of philanthropy and find out what inspires you the most. When you are giving to the causes you love, everyone wins--you, the community, and the organizations you support.

Take action
Motivation is the moment of truth. Does a student, an employee, an executive, or a parent have the tools and information to act on a philanthropic desire? That's what your community foundation is committed to doing. People at all levels of giving frequently voice this frustration: "I want to help, but I just don't know how I can help." Your community foundation can offer ideas for specific actions you can take to support your community and the causes you love. You'll be motivated and happy because you will know that your act of doing good, no matter how big or how small, makes a real difference.

Executives, civic leaders, parents, employees, students-and anyone else engaged in philanthropy--will love the expertise of their partners at the community foundation, and the community will be all the better for it.
Old Roosevelt Arts & Culture Center

By Tracy Timmons, Executive Director, Red Lodge Area Community Foundation

One of the things that makes each rural Montana community unique, is their contribution to arts and culture, and Red Lodge is no exception. The Red Lodge Area Community Foundation recently purchased the Old Roosevelt School building, located at the south entrance of Main Street. We did not purchase the building to become an arts and culture organization, our community loves us as we are. We purchased the building to restore, reuse, and revitalize Old Roosevelt into arts, culture, performance, reception, conference, education and community gathering spaces, providing both indoor and outdoor venues, for people to interact, converse, celebrate and express themselves - another place to fall in love. Can you picture a local musician copping a spot on the lawn, and the music serving as a catalyst for other people to stop what they are doing and enjoy the moment?
Our community needs this venue because we currently lack adequately sized downtown community spaces for people to meet and engage with one another. We are providing spaces, and engaging funding sources, to provide a wide variety of ways for arts and culture to grow and thrive. We are collaborating, incubating, and stimulating many organizations, and individuals, to create or expand the programming they are dreaming of for our community. Together we will create a "bigger pie" that our entire county will benefit from.
For example, the Carbon County Arts Guild will have access to additional display spaces for their member's art work; the school building is full of wide, well lit hallways. We are creating the community's first database with potential organizations who can hold their next conference in Red Lodge. We will turn that database over to the Chamber when it generates enough revenue to provide them with additional staffing. The building location will provide a walkable, downtown, performance space that will seat over 300 people and will complement other existing spaces that seat less people, including offsite break out spaces, meal venues and entertainment options.
Right now, we really need your help to open the historic side of the building. The most pressing needs are the heating system, the fire alarm and fire suppression systems. Until then, we are working with what's available of the newer side of the building, leaning on mentors from other communities to guide us, and facilitating community conversations on everything from STEAM programming to Spin classes. After all, defining arts is the fun part!

Learn more about and support the Red Lodge Area Community Foundation and the  Old Roosevelt Building project.
Nonprofit Workshops from MNA

Building Tomorrow's Nonprofit: Engaging Each Generation as Volunteers, Employees, and Board Members

Over the past several months, nearly 200 people in 9 communities across Montana participated in the Montana Nonprofit Association's (MNA) UpNext Focus Groups. Each community offered new perspectives on multi-generational leadership and the challenges facing the nonprofit sector. Two themes stood out above the rest:
  • How do we communicate through differences, including but not limited to age? What are tools and processes that organizations can use to maneuver conversations successfully with differences in perspective, experience, expertise, age, institutional knowledge, and bias all represented?
  • How do organizations attract and retain new leaders and board members, and how do we structure organizations to foster sustainable leadership development and pathways?
MNA has used these themes to develop a workshop that addresses many of the challenges related to multi-generational leadership -- Building Tomorrow's Nonprofit: Engaging Each Generation as Volunteers, Employees, and Board Members will visit four towns across Montana. These half-day workshops examine generational differences and change management and offer tools for approaching organizational structure and assessments to help navigate communication barriers.

You're invited to attend workshops in Hamilton on April 5, Missoula on April 6, and Red Lodge on April 19. Learn more and register at
Generosity at Work

With all the amazing grants from the Montana Wildfire Relief Fund, February saw more than $612,000 in your generosity put to work! Thank you again to the many, many donors and incredible partners who made the Montana Wildfire Relief Fund such a success.

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