April 2016

From Mary's Desk
One question we often get here at Montana Community Foundation is 
"What is an endowment?" Perhaps a more important question is "What is a qualified endowment?" Why does that matter, you ask?  The distinction is an important one, because to benefit from the Montana Charitable Endowment Tax Credit, the endowment you either give to or establish through your gift must be qualified as defined by the Montana Code Annotated (MCA). 

An endowment is a donation of funds held in perpetuity for charitable benefit. As the fund grows, investment returns are used to support the designated beneficiary organization, charitable field-of-interest, etc. An endowment can be funded by a variety of assets such as cash, property, securities and more.

So what then is a "qualified endowment" as defined by the state? According to the MCA,
"Qualified endowment" means a permanent, irrevocable fund that is held by a Montana incorporated or established organization that: 
     (i) is a tax-exempt organization under 26 U.S.C. 501(c)(3); or 
     (ii) is a bank or trust company, as defined in Title 32, chapter 1, part 1, that is holding the fund on behalf of a tax-exempt organization. 

A very important part of that definition is "permanent, irrevocable fund", which the MCA also defines:

"Permanent, irrevocable fund" means a fund comprising cash, securities, mutual funds, or other investment assets established for a specific charitable, religious, educational, or eleemosynary purpose and managed, invested, and appropriated pursuant to the Uniform Prudent Management of Institutional Funds Act provided for in Title 72, chapter 30. 

What's so important about endowments and in turn, what's so important about them being permanent and irrevocable? The answer is stability. Nonprofit organizations rely on charitable gifts for funding. They hold events, conduct campaigns, send appeals and much more in an effort to raise funds to meet their charitable missions. In most cases, this funding goes to support operations and programs. Money comes in the door and goes back out. What happens when fundraising efforts don't meet goals or demands? What happens when projects and programs incur unexpected expenses? Sometimes, unfortunately, projects and programs can't be completed or their impact is reduced. In extreme cases, some nonprofits are forced to close their doors.

An endowment offers a permanent, stable source of income for nonprofits. The principle of the fund is inviolable, meaning it cannot be spent or granted out. Why? Because an endowment is permanent and meant to last forever. Instead of depleting the fund and leaving nothing for the future or a year when fundraising goals aren't met, only the investment returns can be spent and only a percentage reasonable and prudent to insure the fund can continue to grow.

We all hear financial advisors tell us how important it is to save for our future, to make sure we have the income we need to support ourselves as our lives and circumstances change. It is no different for a nonprofit organization. An endowment fund is an incredible tool for nonprofits. It also shouldn't be overlooked that here in Montana, planned gifts to qualified endowments are a powerful incentive for donors who can take advantage of the Montana Charitable Endowment Tax Credit while ensuring Montana's future is bright and stable -- a "win win win" for families, nonprofits and Montana.

Mary K. Rutherford, MA, CFRE
President & Chief Executive Officer
Help Us Raise a Million for Montana!
The community conveners are established and the nonprofits are registered. Now it's time for everyone to help us make sure MTGives on May 3rd is a big success! Last year we raised more than $640,000 benefiting over 370 nonprofits. This year there are more communities, more nonprofits and hopefully, more money raised for Montana. We hope you'll join in and donate to your favorite nonprofits on May 3rd. Your donation is tax-deductible and makes a powerful and positive impact on your community and Montana.

Visit the MTGives website to learn more and be sure to donate on May 3rd!
Generosity at Work
Last month was a spectacular one for giving. In March there were 33 grants totaling nearly $335,000!  

A few of us were lucky enough to make a trip to Stanford, MT and visit the Judith Basin County Free Library. We delivered a check for $200,090 representing the combined total of three matching grants by MCF from an anonymous donor.
The Judith Basin County Free Library has been fundraising for two years to finance a building project. With this grant, they have now raised just over $500,000 and can begin library expansions and updates. The library was established in 1945 with 1,500 books after receiving tremendous support from residents across the entire county of Judith Basin. The library's current building was constructed in 1960, with the last addition occurring in 1979.
The library plans to expand space and services for a children's room and new technology area. "Some Judith Basin County residents have little or no access to technology and the library serves as an incredibly valuable resource for them," said Jeanne Lillegard, the library's director. "The library is used by people of all ages; it is such an important part of our community. We want to offer our heartfelt thanks to the anonymous donor who made this generous gift. It is truly remarkable."

You too can help us put generosity to work. If you're interested in finding out more about establishing a fund or supporting an existing fund, visit the Giving section of our website.
Montana Community Foundation 2015 Annual Report
We're happy to present our 2015 Annual Report. Inside you'll of course find information on our financials, but you'll also read about some of our major accomplishments and projects for 2015. We couldn't have made those things possible without our wonderful donors, nonprofit partners, local community foundations and many, many others. You have our sincere thanks for your generosity and partnership.
The MCF Gift Illustrator 
When it comes to planned giving (and many other things in life), there are some people who like to dive right in and sit down with someone or perhaps have a conversation on the phone. For others, they would rather explore options on their own before they have that face-to-face. For this second group of people, our Gift Illustrator is the perfect place to start. 

The Gift Illustrator presents you with a number of initial options to narrow down the best type of gift for you based on a number of factors. These include things like gifts that pay income, that you make today, or that make an impact after your lifetime. It then gives you various gift options to choose from including bequests, gift annuities, trusts and more. From there, you can calculate your gift and the benefits with easy-to-use sliders to change the size of your gift and age, depending on the type of gift.

Keep in mind the Gift Illustrator does not reflect the benefits of the Montana Charitable Endowment Tax Creditwhich offers a credit on your Montana state taxes of 40% of a qualifying planned gift's federal charitable deduction, up to a maximum of $10,000, per year, per individual. It also allows a credit of 20% on your Montana state taxes of a gift's federal charitable deduction for a direct gift by a qualified business up to a maximum of $10,000 per year. 

If you have any questions about the Gift Illustrator, the numbers it reflects, or want more information about taking the next step in establishing a gift to benefit you AND Montana, please don't hesitate to contact our planned giving team: Amy Sullivan, Director of the Montana Office of Gift Planning at (406) 541-7407 or amy@mtcf.org and Nick Dietzen, Planned Giving Officer at (406) 443-8313 or nick@mtcf.org.

*This information is not intended as legal advice. For legal advice, please consult an attorney. 
Women's Foundation of Montana 2016 Grant Cycle
Do you know of, or are you, a great Montana nonprofit working to advance women's economic independence or create a brighter future for girls? The Women's Foundation of Montana (WFM) wants to help them reach that goal! WFM has invested more than half a million dollars in creating a brighter future for Montana women and girls through the years and is pleased to offer a new opportunity for nonprofits to gain the resources they need to succeed through WFM's 2016 grant cycle.
The new $50,000+ grant funding is focused on creating systemic change to improve the economic status of women, supporting programs that give girls the tools to be financially successful, and programs that improve women's economic security. Funds will be awarded by WFM's board of advisors to nonprofit organizations that work to directly grow economic security for Montana women and girls through advocacy and programs such as job training, financial education, leadership and entrepreneurship programs, wage negotiation training and innovative STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) programming for girls. Preference is given to programs that show innovation, collaboration, and tangible, measurable results. 

The application deadline is April 30, so don't delay! To learn more or apply, visit the WFM website.
10 Questions for the Staff - Cathy Cooney
Who are the people that spend their days working for Montana's future? Let's find out!
1. Where are you from originally?
I was born in Calgary, Alberta, but lived in California most of my life (Orange County, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz and Riverside County).

2. What's your position at MCF and what do you do?
I just started a new position at the Foundation as the Director of Donor Services. My job is to assist donors in accessing services at MCF.

3. What's your favorite hobby/what do you do with your free time?
I teach Oula, which is an aerobic dance program based in MissOula, MT, but expanding rapidly across the country. Dancing is my passion! I enjoy community building as well. Toward that end, I am serving as the Board Vice-President of the Glacier Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Kalispell.
Director of Donor Services Cathy Cooney
4. If you had to choose a different profession, what would it be and why?
I would be a full-time Oula instructor/wellness coach/fitness trainer. I am a huge advocate for healthy lifestyles and maintaining fitness. I have spent countless hours at gyms in the past 30+ years so I try to practice what I preach. I am also very interested in the new research on building healthy lifestyles. 

5. What's something not very many people know about you?
I was a German major in college. My parents are immigrants from Germany, where most of my relatives still live. I always planned to go back to Germany and spend more time there, but life has taken me in a different direction.

6. What are three things you can't live without?
Dancing, my family (my husband Ned, our cat Slim Shady and our kitten Lilah), and books, lots and lots of books.

7. How did you first get involved in the nonprofit sector?
I worked for a nonprofit hospital as a mental health worker when I was still an undergrad and just never left the sector. One nonprofit job just led to another! My husband is also heavily involved with the nonprofit sector (served as the President of the Montana Nonprofit Association, etc.) and it is a big part of what we have in common. I can't imagine doing something different.

8. If there was one thing you wanted people to know about MCF, what would it be?
I love that we help people leave the world a better place by creating a legacy through endowed giving. I have a donor advised fund, named after my late grandmother. I like to think that her memory will last forever because of the charitable giving that will happen in perpetuity from that endowment.

9. What's your favorite place in Montana?
Our home overlooking Echo Lake, about 10 minutes from Bigfork. I love the Swan Range behind our neighborhood, the forest surrounding our house and the gorgeous sunsets over the water. 

10. What's your favorite thing about Montana/Montanans?
That sense that there is one degree of separation between everyone in this state. The nonprofit sector especially feels like a tight-knit community. Plus, I love the clean air. My chronic asthma disappeared after moving from Riverside, CA to Bigfork. Blue skies and clean air are incredible luxuries that many people don't get to enjoy. 

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