September 2017
From Mary's Desk

On the homepage of our website, we say "Family. Friends. Neighbors. Montanans." Over the past month, we have seen that this sentiment of togetherness is well justified. We have seen remarkable generosity. We have seen our Montana community come together in support of a cause, and people from nearly every state across the nation answer the call to support our state which has suffered from a devastating wildfire season. We have seen young and old, urban and rural, individual, business, private foundation and everything in between come together to help our state in this great time of need. Even in places dealing with their own terrible disasters like Texas and Florida, we have seen people come forward to help.

To date, we have raised almost $275,000 for the Montana Wildfire Relief Fund. But we certainly haven't done that alone - far from it. With incredible partners like the Montana Television Network, Mountain Sky Guest Ranch/Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation, PureWest Christie's - International Real Estate and now the Alice Lee Lund Charitable Trust, who have provided a combined $115,000 in matching funds, we have together created a groundswell of generosity for this cherished place we are lucky enough to call home.

There are many more partners we must thank. The businesses and individuals who have taken it upon themselves to find creative ways to raise money and the hundreds and hundreds of donors from every corner of Montana and across the country who have sent their checks or made a contribution online. While the MCF staff has been buried with the work of administering so many donations, work we are so incredibly grateful and happy to do. As you'll read below, the messages we have received with these donations and stories behind them have made this effort far more than a fundraising campaign; they have made this effort a spectacular example of human kindness, empathy and generosity.

Mary K. Rutherford, MA, CFRE
President & CEO 
From Lemonade to Bunco

We'd like to take this opportunity to share some of the comments and stories we've received through donations to the Montana Wildfire Relief Fund. It just doesn't seem fair to hoard all the heartwarming wonderfulness for ourselves!

Bigfork was spared this year, maybe not so lucky the next year. We watched as Lolo, Seeley Swan, Thompson Falls, and Eureka burned and suffered from the hazardous air. Here's hope this contribution will help residents and fire fighters.

In honor of ranchers and other Montanans who have suffered during this summer's wildfire season.

I have traveled to Marion Montana since I was little 56 years and my family is from Montana. I love the people, the county and the Firefighters!

Our son, Braden, wanted to set up a lemonade stand at a recent MSU Bobcat game to raise money for Wildfire Relief. He raised $187 to honor the firefighters and help with fire relief this year.

We have a cabin in the Elk Meadows subdivision. Extremely grateful to all the firefighters for their valiant effort.

We are forever grateful to all of the firefighters who worked so tirelessly and bravely to save our precious ranches and forests. We especially want to thank all of you who were at the "Hoon spike camp" it was a privilege to have you here. Thank you for all you did for our community while fighting the Alice Creek fire. God bless you all.

Thank you to all involved in helping battle the fires...especially the firefighters. Our thoughts are with the two families who lost their loved ones.

To all who were responsible for our safety this 2017 fire season....we can't thank you enough for your efforts on our behalf.

Our prayers are with you. Good luck to all.

I know you are having a hard time in the state and much of the attention is with other parts of the country. Hope this helps those who have been suffered from the wildfires.

My thoughts and prayers are with the family members of the two firefighters, who lost their lives... I am also thinking of those who have lost their property and/or possessions, I cannot even imagine how hard that would be?? I am glad that I am able to make this small contribution and I appreciate what you people at KPAX do for our community!! Thank you...

This is in honor of all the firefighters that have risked their lives to save lives, homes, animals, land and livelihoods of fellow Montanans! God bless all of the firefighters and we have prayed and are praying still!!

This is a donation that was raised by our Roosevelt Elementary students, families and staff in Great Falls, MT. We did a 4 days 4 Firefighters Fund raiser this week and had different themes for each day and encouraged students to bring in a $1.00 each day for the cause. We celebrated with a Wear Red for Firefighters Day, Support the Wildfire Fund with Wild hair Day, We love the 406 Day (wearing Montana gear), and ending with Hats Off to Firefighters with a hat day.  The kids had fun and were able to make a contribution to a great cause! 

We've had catastrophic storms in the U.S. but these fires are catastrophic to us in Montana and it's nice to be able to help here at home.

The ladies of our Bunco group decided to all make a small donation at our game night this month to help an area that was dealing with a natural disaster. We have heard that you are dealing with wildfires out that way and wanted to send this $150.00 to you to use to help those who have been impacted by the wildfires. - The Bunco Babes of Clinton, Illinois

My husband and I are full time RVers, that is we live in our RV and travel the country. We have spent the past 5 weeks in various places in Montana. You have a beautiful state and we hate to see it burning. Yet, we have such respect for the brave people fighting this disaster. Bless you all.

We visited Glacier this summer and fell in love so wanted to help out any way we could!

We donate this money to help the courageous men and women working to keep Montana and Montanans safe from the numerous wild fires this year. Montana will always be my home, and my husband and I pray for the safety of all involved.

Thank you to the men and women who fight to save our homes and forests. And for those who gave their lives may their families receive some comfort knowing that Montanans are grateful for their service.

My heart will always be in Montana.

For the LOVE of MONTANA.
Questions about the Montana Wildfire Relief Fund?

What is the Montana Wildfire Relief Fund (MWRF)?

The MWRF is a charitable fund established at the Montana Community Foundation (MCF) to efficiently and effectively respond to the unprecedented 2017 fire disaster in Montana.


Why did MCF create this fund?

The MWRF provides Montanans a central place to make their donations knowing that not only will the money be distributed efficiently and effectively, but also that the money is going to a trusted, accredited organization with 30 years of experience distributing philanthropic funds to benefit Montana.


How do I donate to the fund?

Donations can be made online here or by mailing a check to Montana Community Foundation, PO Box 1145, Helena, MT 59624-1145. If mailing a check, please write "Montana Wildfire Relief Fund" in the memo line.


Is my donation tax deductible?

Yes, 100 percent of your donation to the MWRF fund or any other fund at MCF qualifies as a tax deductible contribution, for those who file itemized tax returns.


How will the fund be administered and how will grantmaking decisions be made?

Grantmaking decisions will be made by an MCF staff-led committee of no more than nine and no less than five members. Whenever possible, grantmaking will be done in consultation with an organization local to the disaster (such as a local community foundation) in an effort to provide the most effective support utilizing local knowledge.

Eight principles will be followed in responding to disasters:

  1. Do no harm (Ensure relief is appropriate, useful and does not create additional problems).
  2. Stop, look and listen before taking action (Information is key and every disaster has unique characteristics that must be examined before deciding how best to take action).
  3. Don't act in isolation (Coordination between disaster grantmakers, victims, organizations "on the ground" and other stakeholders is key. Information must be exchanged and needs must be prioritized appropriately).
  4. Think beyond the immediate crisis (Long-term planning and preparation are also key areas that may need support. Also, the long-term effects of current relief must be examined).
  5. Bear in mind the expertise of local organizations (Community-based organizations with a local presence are the first on the scene and often know best what assistance is needed. They may also have the best insight into the political, social and cultural context of the disaster).
  6. Find out how prospective grantees operate (Understand the approach of the organizations/efforts we fund as they may vary widely).
  7. Be accountable to those you are trying to help (We must be accountable not only to our donors and board, but also to the other stakeholders in a disaster such as the victims and organizations we decide to fund).
  8. Communicate your work and use it as an educational tool (We will share best practices and lessons learned to help others in their own disaster relief efforts).

Who is eligible to receive funding?

According to IRS regulations, recipients must be either 501(c)(3) public charities or exempt governmental units.

How many grants will be made and for how much?

The number and size of grants will be determined based on the total amount of money contributed to the fund. Grant awards will be no less than $500. 

When will MCF begin granting from this fund?

We will open our grant cycle with a call for proposals beginning October 9, 2017. We expect to have grantmaking complete before the end of the year. Based on the results and feedback from the initial cycle, we may consider having a second cycle either later this year or early in 2018.

What are the administrative costs associated with this fund?

MCF is waiving its fees for administering this fund through 2017. Your entire donation will go to wildfire relief and stay in Montana for Montanans. (Online donations are subject to a small fee by the credit processing company as all online credit card transactions are).

What will happen to the fund after the 2017 fire season is over?

Currently, the plan is for the fund to continue to exist and provide support for future fire relief efforts in Montana. However, we will expend all funds received in support of fire relief in Montana by the end of 2017 if possible and no later than early 2018.

If you have any questions about the Montana Wildfire Relief Fund or anything else we might be able to help with, please don't hesitate to contact us.

Montana Healthcare Foundation Grants

It's your last chance to apply for one of  Montana Healthcare Foundation's Rapid Response Grants! These grants offer funding up to $75,000 and the deadline for applications is October 6! Even if you are not an eligible organization, please share this tremendous opportunity with others.  

Learn more here.
Thank you for attending the 8th Annual Community Foundation Convening!

We were so incredibly fortunate to have wonderful people from all over Montana (and beyond) join us this week for the 8th Annual Community Foundation Convening!

It was an amazing experience of learning, sharing, community and friendship, and we hope the participants left with a host of new ideas to take home to their communities.

Legacy of Life - Planned Giving Seminar

Join our very own Amy Sullivan, Director of the Montana Office of Gift Planning, for a planned giving seminar co-sponsored by MCF and the St. Peter's Hospital Foundation on Wednesday, October 25 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the St. Peter's Hospital Education Center (across from the Cafe) at St. Peter's Hospital, 2475 Broadway, Helena, MT. 

Learn about gifts that pay you income, the IRA Charitable Rollover, the Montana Endowment Tax Credit and more! Lunch will be provided. RSVP by October 18 to (406) 444-2370 or
Generosity at Work

August was an amazing month of giving, with 39 grants totaling nearly $99,000! Our thanks to the generous donors who made this possible and to the nonprofit organizations benefiting from these funds who work so hard for Montana.

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