May 2015

From Mary's Desk

In 2012, Montana Community Foundation partnered with MSU Extension and the Anaconda Local Development Corporation in a program to strengthen local community foundations and help build endowed assets in Montana. This group secured a $150,000 grant from the USDA Rural Development Program which was matched by MSU Extension and MCF at $75,000 each.


Over the past three years, the program has helped local community foundations create visions for their communities and given them the power to shape their own future, rather than reacting to the uncertainty of difficult times. It has also enabled us to provide materials, training and collaboration opportunities across the state, which in turn has developed leadership and built capacity for Montana's local community foundations. Why is bolstering local community foundations and endowments so important? It's estimated that $12 billion dollars will transfer from generation to generation in Montana by 2020, much of which may leave our state. Every community in Montana needs to take the initiative to build permanent wealth through endowed funds, ensuring the Montana we love is here for our children and grandchildren.


The USDA program is coming to a close this fall and this month is a great opportunity for local community foundations to take advantage of some of its final benefits, namely the spring convenings. May has been a very busy month! We have been organizing, traveling to, creating materials for and presenting at these events which give local community foundations the chance to learn, share, network and more. There's still time to register for the convenings in Columbus on May 21st and Missoula on May 28th. 


When this grant ends, MCF is committed to continuing our support of local community foundation efforts.  Watch for future issues of Infinity where we'll outline how we'll be providing that support.





Mary K. Rutherford, MA, CFRE

President & Chief Executive Officer

MCF Launches New Website

While our old website was functional and informational, serving its purpose for more than eight years, well, let's just say it was time for a change!


We're pleased to announce the launch of the new MCF website. It's even more functional and informational, has a great new look and feel, and offers users a much improved experience.


The new website represents significant time, effort and money we've invested to serve you even better. We hope you'll check it out and maybe bookmark it as a favorite. And since it's brand new, we also hope you'll let us know if you discover any bugs so we can get them fixed. Enjoy!


The new MCF website homepage.   
Montana Communities Raise More Than $640,000 For Local Nonprofits on Give Local Day

The results of Give Local in Montana are in and organizers are thrilled. During the one-day event, local community foundations led efforts in their communities to raise more than $640,000 for local nonprofits across the state. More than 370 nonprofits benefited from over 6,800 donations.


The May 5th event was a 24-hour crowd-funding event that used local and incentive funds to empower and equip people in Montana to invest in their communities and give to the organizations they care about most. More than 100 community foundations throughout America participated, making it one of the biggest giving days in history. Here in Montana, five local community foundations led Give Local efforts in their communities including Flathead, Glendive, the Bozeman area, Helena and Missoula.

Give Local raised more than $640,000 for Montana nonprofits.   

"Last year, the Missoula Community Foundation took the initiative to join the Give Local movement and we made the commitment to support them as a major funder and sponsor," said Mary Rutherford, Montana Community Foundation President and CEO. "It was a tremendous success and we decided to take the lead in organizing and sponsoring a much larger Give Local effort across Montana partnering with local community foundations. We are thrilled with the turnout and participation of so many Montanans. Our hope is that the program will continue to grow year after year, building momentum and raising money for the charitable organizations that are so vital to our local communities."

In 2014, communities participating in Give Local America raised more than $53 million for local communities. This year, Give Local America raised more than $68 million.

"It Was the Best Decision We Ever Made"

Here's a powerful and important story we're happy to share from one of our grantees - the Flathead Land Trust:

In 2008, the Helen C. Foreman Trust completed a conservation easement in partnership with the Flathead Land Trust for their family's 225 acres near the North Fork Flathead River on Garnet Lake, about three miles south of the Canadian border. Now, years after the easement has been put in place, Jason Cohn, one of the thirteen heirs of the Trust says, "It was the best decision our family ever made."


"The North Fork, and our small piece of it, is a truly unique and special place," says Jason. "The remote, wild beauty of it is important to protect both for its value as wildlife habitat and for its place in our family history. Five generations of my family have enjoyed the property so it is the geographic center of the family in many ways, even for those who can't visit as often as they would like." Jason's family has owned land in the area since the 1940s and the Foreman name is well known and respected in the North Fork. In fact, Jason's grandmother Helen had an uncle named L.O. Vaught after whom Glacier's Mt. Vaught is named. 

Orville and Helen Foreman   

"I have been visiting the North Fork since I was just a few years old, and in many ways it's more home than the town in Ohio I grew up in. My only memory of my grandfather is playing horseshoes in front of the main cabin in Montana. All my best memories of my grandmother are from the ranch fishing, walking in the woods, cooking on the wood stove and spending rainy days playing cards in front of the big fireplace. I learned to drive on an old 1958 Willies Jeep that is still there, although not running anymore! As a kid, whenever I was stressed or worried, my mom would tell me to close my eyes and think of Montana to calm me down...I still do that to this day! I shared that with my wife who has grown to love the ranch as much as I do and she does the same thing! I've learned so many things about how to improvise and be more self-sufficient by spending time in the woods, and I can't imagine how different my life would be without having been privileged to spend time in such a beautiful place."


Because the natural values of the land had been appreciated by the Foreman family for generations, when Jason's mother and uncle learned about conservation easements, they felt a responsibility to preserve the family's remote North Fork property as their parents would have wanted. In fact, Jason's grandfather was a founder of the North Fork Compact, one of the first land-use planning agreements in Montana, formalized in 1971. The compact grew out of the concerns of some residents about the threat of subdivision and potential environmental harm that could come with no land use plan in place. This compact that was created from Jason's grandfather's vision is still in effect today with slight revisions.


But, even with a common conservation value, how did a family trust with 13 heirs come to an agreement about the future of their property? Jason explained, "We've always wanted to keep our property in as close to a natural state as possible, because it is in the center of important grizzly habitat and adjacent to a Wild and Scenic River corridor. My mother and uncle negotiated the easement details, making sure that we would have the ability to do what we needed to in order to manage the forest for fire safety, but with the idea of having as light an impact on the land as possible. They shared the terms with the rest of us and I think we were all on board with it. I don't recall any debate or dissent as we all recognize the natural value of the land is far greater than the financial value. The benefit to us of the easement is peace of mind in the knowledge that no matter what happens with our family and our ownership of the land, the land will be protected for many years to come."


"I regard the easement as the best thing we have done as a family for several reasons," said Jason. "The first reason is that with it, we have protected a small but important piece of property for the future. I'm proud that we chose to do that, and I think my grandparents and my great great uncle Vaught would be pleased. The second reason I'm glad we have the easement is that family trusts, by their very nature, are tricky. The more people that own something together the harder it is to maintain. While everything is going well currently, as time passes and more people become owners, things can get very complicated and the possibility that the property will no longer be able to stay in the family becomes more likely. Thanks to the conservation easement, we know that no matter what happens down the road related to ownership, that we've done everything we can to protect the land for the future."


To find out more about the Flathead Land Trust, visit www.flatheadlandtrust.org.

Are you an MCF grantee or donor interested in sharing your story? Contact us today!
10 Questions for the Board - Casey Lozar  

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 am from the Flathead Indian Reservation (Polson).


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

I am the director of the State Tribal Economic Development Commission, a body of the state government that works directly with each of the eight tribal nations on activities and policy development to enhance and grow our tribal communities.


3. What's your favorite hobby/what do you do with your free time? 

When I am not chasing down my three kids, Leighton, Winn and Mary Mac, or spending time with my wife Reagen, I can be found on the golf course tempering my proclivity for duck hooks.

MCF Board Member Casey Lozar
4. If you had to choose a different profession, what would it be and why?

I would start an organization that took troubled Native American youth into the backcountry as part of their healing process and as an alternative to court orders.  


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

I spent a year in the Republic of the Marshall Islands without power or English. The experience deepened my focus on supporting community as a tool for positive change and cultural perpetuation.  


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

Coffee, laughter and family.


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

My wife Reagen and I moved from Boston to Boulder, CO for her to attend graduate school. I taught for one year in Boulder and then transitioned to the American Indian College Fund, the largest Native American non-profit organization in the country. I started at the ground level writing grants to smaller family foundations. When I left seven years later I was the vice president managing five departments and raising over $18 million annually.  


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

MCF is a brilliantly balanced organization. On one hand MCF has the intellectual assets on staff and on the board to tackle any issues or changes in the nonprofit sector, while on the other hand MCF is gracefully embedded into the many communities throughout our great state. 


9. What's your favorite place in Montana?

My favorite place in Montana is my family's small one room cabin on the west side of Flathead Lake. A close second is on the trail in the Mission Mountains.  


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

My family. And the fact there is at most two degrees of separation when meeting any new person in Montana.

Generosity at Work

April was certainly no slouch when it comes to giving. The month saw more than 25 grants totaling over $75,000 in support of philanthropy in Montana. The grants benefited public education, libraries, performing arts programs, museums, a children's shelter, churches and more.


Learn more about how you too can support philanthropy in Montana!

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