October 2015

From Mary's Desk
It's all about perspective. Last month, I was fortunate to be a guest of Philanthropy Northwest to attend Local Matters 2015 - Alaska + Indigenous Communities. I participated in the First Alaskans' Institute Elders and Youth Conference in Anchorage. Having lived in Alaska for 15 years, I am fairly well versed on many of the state's issues. Yet participating in this experience was a first for me. I went into it with an inquisitive mind. I met people from areas of the state I'd never visited. I gained a new perspective about their lives and what's important to them. While there is much about Alaska that is different from Montana, we also have much in common.

For nearly the last two years, I have enjoyed traveling around Montana, listening and learning from stakeholders about their interests and goals. Hearing their aspirations has shaped MCF's direction. True to our desire to be the "go-to place" for philanthropy in Montana, we have made strategic decisions about how best to serve Montana's communities. This is evidenced by the creation of the Montana Office of Gift Planning and the growth in staff dedicated to that effort. This is evidenced by the creation of the Local Community Foundation office, housed full-time at MCF in response to community requests for that expertise and assistance. This is evidenced by a renewed focus on grantmaking, scholarship and donor relations.

Montana communities have spoken and we have responded. We look forward to continuing to serve Montana communities so that we all flourish.

Mary K. Rutherford, MA, CFRE
President & Chief Executive Officer
Generosity at Work
September was a great month of giving with 20 grants totaling more than $32,000 for Montana nonprofits. Thank you to the generous donors who made it possible and to the outstanding organizations dedicated to making Montana a wonderful place to live, work and play. 

One great example of generosity at work we'd like to share this month comes from the Montana Pioneer Manor, a retirement home in Plentywood. With resident safety a priority, replacing a sidewalk in need of repair was an important project for this nonprofit organization. A $2,000 grant recommended from the Sheridan County Community Foundation made a significant dent in the funding costs.

If you're interested in finding out more about how you can help by investing in Montana's future, visit the GIVING section of our website.

MCF Welcomes New Planned Giving Officer Nick Dietzen!  
Nick Dietzen joins the Montana Office of Gift Planning (MOGP) and will work with donors, local community foundations and nonprofits across the state to create or increase the value of endowed funds as the Planned Giving Officer. He will serve as a development officer and planned giving expert in support of Montana philanthropy, working in concert with MOGP's director Amy Sullivan.

Prior to MCF, Dietzen worked as a Major Gifts Officer and previously the Sports Information Director at Carroll College. Originally from Helena, Dietzen is a Capital High graduate and received his Bachelor of Arts from the Annenberg School of Journalism/Public Relations at the University of Southern California. He serves as a board member for Carroll College's Saints Athletic Association and Helena Food Share as well as supporting the Montana State Golf Association in their communication and marketing efforts.

Please join us in welcoming Nick!
$365,000 for Montana Students
For the 2015-16 academic year, MCF awarded more than $365,000 in scholarships, approximately $40,000 more than last year. That means 154 worthy Montana students have help achieving their academic goals through the incredible generosity of donors. 

The scholarships range in size from $500 to $5,000 and were awarded through a competitive application process. Many of the scholarships are renewable, offering financial support to students for multiple years. 

A wide range of scholarships are available with a variety of qualifications. Most scholarship applications are available beginning January 1 of each year, and both traditional and non-traditional Montana students are encouraged to apply.

If you're interested in learning more about starting your own scholarship fund to help students, you can find more information here.
10 Questions for the Staff - Amy Sullivan  
Who are the people that spend their days working for Montana's future? Let's find out!
1. Where are you from originally?
A ranch 5 miles east of Simms, Montana.

2. What's your position at MCF and what do you do?
I am the Director of the Montana Office of Gift Planning. I work with financial advisors, nonprofits and donors to take advantage of the Montana Endowment Tax Credit and grow philanthropy in Montana. We are all working together to invest in Montana--this place we know and love!

3. What's your favorite hobby/what do you do with your free time? 
What is a hobby? :-) Work is easy, hobbies are hard, but let me take a stab at answering this question. I play a mean game of Chinese Checkers, I love animals (I have two dogs and three cats), and I am especially fond of antique hardware--collecting it and preserving it!
Montana Office of Gift Planning Director Amy Sullivan
4. If you had to choose a different profession, what would it be and why?
I LOVE what I do and this is the profession for me! If I HAD to choose, I suppose I would be an oil painter...find my favorite spot and paint all the different seasons! 

5. What's something not very many people know about you?
My husband and I have renovated five homes in our 22 years of marriage--three of them from the Victorian era.

6. What are three things you can't live without?
Family, Montana and faith in the future!

7. How did you first get involved in the nonprofit sector?
I was recruited to be the CEO of the Montana History Foundation in 2004. Spending 10 years in that role, I learned so much about nonprofits in Montana.

8. If there was one thing you wanted people to know about MCF, what would it be?
We make philanthropic dreams come true every day!

9. What's your favorite place in Montana?
All of Montana is amazing. If I had to choose it would be Eastern Montana and the Hi-Line. I know that's a big area, but I enjoy landscapes where I can see for miles and the people tell it like it is! 

10. What's your favorite thing about Montana/Montanans?
Authenticity. Being authentic is something I value in others and strive to be every day!
Missoula Office Open House!
Our new office in downtown Missoula is open and you're invited to an open house! Located at 110 W. Front Street in the historic Florence Hotel building, the new office is home to the Montana Office of Gift Planning, the Women's Foundation of Montana and the Missoula Community Foundation. In conjunction with downtown Missoula's First Friday event, we'll be holding the open house on Friday, November 6th from 5-8 pm. Please stop by and say hello! Need directions?
Life Moves Fast: Keep Your Plans Up to Speed
Life changes -- sometimes suddenly and unexpectedly, sometimes with careful preparation. Read on to learn when and how to make sure your estate plans are up to par.

Create a plan. An astounding 55% of Americans and approximately 70% of Montanans do not have a will or any sort of estate plan. If you don't have a will, it's vital you create one to ensure your final wishes are carried out. 

Update your plan
Through a new will or revocable living trust -- or a codicil or amendment modifying your old documents -- you can address changes in your life, save estate taxes and leave a legacy for the future. Some examples:
  • Your family. With births, deaths, marriages or divorces, you may want to add or delete beneficiaries or increase or decrease their shares of your estate.
  • Your property. Events such as growth (or decline) in the value of your estate, the acquisition of a new home, or the sale or gift of property may necessitate changes to bequest provisions.
  • Your new location. Your will should be updated if you move to a new state. Different requirements for the execution of a will as well as different state inheritance taxes and probate laws may make revisions necessary. Contact an estate planning attorney in your new state.
  • Your charitable interests. Will your good works continue after your lifetime? Consider including a bequest to MCF or another charitable organization by designating a percentage of your estate. Give us a call for sample bequest language to use in your will. 
Review your choice of executor. Recognizing the intricacies of estate settlement, you may want to consider a professional fiduciary for the role as co-executor to serve with your individual executor. A professional fiduciary is an individual or institution that acts as a representative for the assets of others. A fiduciary's experience in saving taxes and prudently managing investments can be invaluable.
Look over the beneficiary designations of your life insurance, retirement plans and IRAs. These should be coordinated with your overall estate plan to make sure your entire estate is left the way you intend. If you want to remember MCF or another charitable organization in your plans, retirement assets are the most highly-taxed assets to leave to your family, making them excellent charitable gifts to support philanthropy.
Create a durable power of attorney. This authorizes someone you choose -- perhaps your spouse or another trusted family member -- to handle your financial affairs during your lifetime when you are unable to do so.
Execute a power of attorney for healthcare. This empowers someone you choose to make healthcare decisions on your behalf if you are unable to make them yourself.
Sign a living will. This tells people what life-sustaining medical treatment you want to receive, if any, if you become terminally ill and can no longer communicate your own decisions.

*This information is not intended as legal advice. For legal advice, please consult an attorney. 

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