March 2015

From Mary's Desk

One of the most important covenants between our organization and donors is the ability to give anonymously. While not every donor wishes to remain anonymous, some certainly do. Why you might ask? The reasons are too numerous to count, but we don't ask why, we just give thanks. What we do know is that without anonymity, some donors might not choose to give as much or give at all. Providing donors with the information, tools and resources to accomplish their philanthropic goals in the best way possible is at the top of our priority list; giving anonymously is just one tool we provide.


You may wonder why this is the topic I chose to write about this month. You'll find the full story below, but here's a sneak peek to keep you reading. This past weekend we delivered a check to a worthy nonprofit - The Nest - for $325,000. It was through the kind and generous support of an anonymous donor(s) this incredible gift was possible. We hope you'll join us in taking a moment out of your day to offer thanks for this amazing act of kindness and the many, many others we are all fortunate enough to be a part of here in Montana. 





Mary K. Rutherford, MA, CFRE

President & Chief Executive Officer

Nonprofits - There is Still Time to Take the Shared Space Survey!
A few months ago, you may remember us telling you about an exciting shared space project we're working on with the Montana Nonprofit Association. One of the most important initial steps is to gain feedback and information from Montana nonprofits.

Our goal is to understand what kind of shared space and shared services would best help you meet your mission - even if you're not looking for a new space or services right now. Please take 15-20 minutes to complete this online survey by March 27 by clicking here. Organizations that complete the survey are eligible to win a great prize! Thank you in advance for your participation! 

Montana Nonprofit Receives Unexpected $325,000 Grant

The Nest, a new 501(c)(3) charitable organization received a surprise grant for $325,000 from a charitable fund supported by an anonymous donor(s) at the Montana Community Foundation. The grant represents one of the largest made in MCF history.


The Nest was in the process of raising funds to purchase a home to pursue their mission of providing a safe, secure environment for young pregnant and parenting moms and their children in Lake County and on the Flathead Indian Reservation. When the anonymous donor(s) heard about The Nest, they initially wanted to make a $100,000 grant to the nonprofit to help in the purchase of a $225,000 home. After hearing about the outpouring of gratitude from The Nest and supporters in the community, the donor(s) asked the MCF Board to provide a grant to fund the entire purchase as well as provide $100,000 to help with renovations, fixtures and fittings for a total grant amount of $325,000.

The Nest nonprofit receives a grant from MCF for $325,000 - $225,000 more than expected.  

"We are overwhelmed and very grateful for the incredible show of support this enormous check represents," said Jenifer Blumberg, Executive Director of The Nest. "Many people are celebrating this gift with us, because this is truly a grassroots project, and so many folks across Lake County and the Flathead Indian Reservation understand the need for The Nest. We are excited to purchase a home and provide women and their children a safe and secure place to grow and thrive.


"I can't thank the Montana Community Foundation enough for facilitating this amazing donation. By allowing anonymous giving to take place, MCF provides a great service to the many generous people in Montana who truly want to support causes they feel strongly about, without then being besieged with more requests once the word is out. MCF is truly a partner in this project, and we thank them, as we do our many community partners and supporters here in the Mission Valley. We value all the donations so much -- and an exceedingly generous donation such as this from someone(s) who has the means to say "let's do this!" allows us to make the dream of The Nest become a reality. We can truly make a difference toward breaking the cycles of poverty and violence, and we can do it now!"


The anonymous fund at the Montana Community Foundation is a charitable donor-advised fund dedicated to supporting worthy organizations and causes throughout Montana. The anonymous donor(s) has been making very significant grants in support of food banks, public schools, hospice care, child welfare and more throughout the state.


"There is nothing better than seeing a worthy organization like The Nest receive a grant like this," said Mary Rutherford, MCF President and CEO. "It's what makes coming to work a joy for us. There are so many important nonprofits across our state doing amazing things every day. They rely on the generous support of donors to fund their good work and this is an extraordinary example of that generosity. A huge part of what we do here at MCF is create endowed funds to build permanent wealth to support nonprofits. This gift to The Nest shows just how powerful this form of giving can be." 
Welcome Jenny Stark!  

Please join us in welcoming the newest MCF team member - Jenny Stark! Jenny joined us this month as our new part-time office assistant. A Montana native who grew up in Polson, she previously worked for the Diocese of Helena, the Montana Teachers' Retirement System and Ries Surveying. Jenny has been married for more than 25 years, has two children and makes her home in Helena. She spends her time away from MCF gardening, walking, skiing and watching her favorite chick flicks and 80's movies.

Jenny Stark joined MCF this month as our new Office Assistant.
10 Questions for the Board - Brian Patrick  

Just who are these wonderful folks that give so much back to Montana through their work with MCF and beyond? Let's find out!


1. Where are you from originally?

I've been a Montanan my entire life. I am the youngest member of a large family who grew up on a wheat farm north of Hingham. The farm is four miles from the Canadian border so I rode the bus 26 miles to school each day.


2. What's your "real" job outside the foundation?

I have been a teacher/coach, Principal, and Superintendent in Townsend and Broadus. I am currently the Director of Business Operations for the Great Falls Public School System.   


3. What's your favorite hobby/what do you do with your free time?
Up until now, my "free" time has entailed following my children as they participate in school extra-curricular activities. I have always enjoyed all school activities because students have the chance to demonstrate their talents. The limited remaining "free" time is spent doing family activities.

Brian Patrick is an MCF Board Member and also serves as Secretary.
4. If you had to choose a different profession, what would it be and why?

What I love the most about the past twenty-six years in school administration is that every day presents new challenges and I continue to learn new things - although the learning has not always been the easy way. I would like any profession where the job and people were fun to be around and I could continue to grow and facilitate the leadership skills of my co-workers. 


5. What's something not very many people know about you?

One of my favorite movies is "It's a Wonderful Life" because it demonstrates the impact that a single person can have on the world around them. The movie is a family favorite that we watch each Christmas.


6. What are three things you can't live without?

Family, Friends, Dreams. My family is my rock. I've been blessed to have been a part of a large family which was raised on a farm where I learned the importance of a good day's work. I'm blessed with an excellent wife and have enjoyed experiencing my four children grow into young adults. I'm also the proud grandfather of two amazing grandchildren. I've been lucky to have great friends who have supported me in both good times and in bad. My dreams of being the best that I can be, along with helping make the community I live in a better place, have guided my life.


7. How did you first get involved in the nonprofit sector?

I was lucky to be a part of the Montana Community Foundation Beacon project in the early 1990's in Broadus. That experience led me to be in on the ground floor in helping start a very successful school/community foundation in Broadwater County. I loved working with the amazing people who helped create and build the very successful foundation. Our efforts have made a big difference in the community today and will continue to do so for future generations.


8. If there was one thing you wanted people to know about MCF, what would it be?

A measure of any organization is the quality of the people who work there. The staff at MCF is amazing! They are all dedicated to their jobs while serving the many and varied aspects required of foundations. MCF is a great organization because it allows people to make a difference during their lifetime and future generations. I love the analogy of planting a tree. We don't plant a tree to immediately benefit from its shade. Future generations will enjoy the shade from actions we take today. 


9. What's your favorite place in Montana?

I have been lucky to have lived in northern, eastern, southern, western, and central Montana. Each area has had its own unique characteristics. My favorite place has always been the place where I am currently living.


10. What's your favorite thing about Montana/Montanans?

In Montana, when you first meet a fellow Montanan, they more than likely know someone that you know. I've had the opportunity to travel to many places in my life. It has always been fun to see different parts of our country and the world, but it is always a great feeling to get back home to Montana. Less traffic and the big open skies are wonderful! 

The Check is in the Mail...and Should Be.

The rules, laws and guidelines that go along with how community foundations, donors and nonprofit beneficiaries interact certainly aren't anyone's favorite topics to discuss. But the fact remains there are good reasons for them to exist and it's important to stay abreast of them.

Grant checks have been flying out the door lately and it raises a good rule to remind ourselves of when it comes to this process. In particular, donors hand delivering grant checks. Here it is from the Council on Foundations: 


The Council has always discouraged the practice of allowing donors to deliver grant checks personally. Since 2006 and the Pension Protection Act, donor advised funds may not make grants that result in a more than incidental benefit to the donor, advisor or related person (Sec. 4967 of the Code). The IRS has concerns with the practice of allowing donors to deliver grant checks because it opens a door for donors to direct the grantee to apply the grant amount to something that benefits the donor personally -- for example, paying a child's tuition at a private school or university. Donors who do this face penalties under Sec. 4967, but managers (community foundation staff) can also be penalized if they acted "knowingly." Allowing donors to carry the checks to the grantee could be used against the foundation in a penalty situation.

Additional concerns related to this practice include the possibility that the grantee will misconstrue the grant as coming from the donor rather than the community foundation, and provide a gift acknowledgment to the donor directly. This could allow the donor to improperly claim the charitable tax deduction twice. Finally, your foundation documentation will be more accurate if you deliver the check and can verify its delivery and receipt.

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