In the Community

Local Leader - October 2023

October 19, 2023

October 2023

Closing Out the Year

Local Leaders,

Fall is upon us and your Local Community Foundation (LCF) is probably preparing for the end-of-year giving season. While we know that LCFs are busy throughout the year with appeals and fundraisers, we also know that LCFs rely on year-end donations to fund their endowments and community initiatives. Plus, donors often use the end-of-year giving season to reflect on the causes that matter most to them!

Our team at the Montana Community Foundation (MCF) wants you to know that your LCF has our support during this chaotic time of the year. Would it be helpful to have a second set of eyes on your end-of-year newsletter? Our Communications Team can help with that. Do you have a donor who is interested in a year-end gift to your endowment and curious about the Montana Endowment Tax Credit? Our Philanthropy Team can help with that.

No matter the question, please reach out to me at or (406) 603-4913 and I will connect you with the correct expert on our team.

As your LCF strategizes about the end-of-year giving season, remember that your donors have numerous ways to support your hard work. Here are some giving options:

  • Gifts of cash, real estate, or appreciated stocks
  • Charitable Trusts
  • Charitable Gift Annuities
  • Qualified Charitable Distributions from retirement accounts
  • Beneficiary designations on life insurance policies, retirement accounts, and bank and brokerage accounts

Looking forward to supporting you through the end of 2023!


Taylor Crowl
LCF, Program Officer

Have You Signed Up Yet for the LCF+ Incentive Program?

If your LCF is interested in participating in the LCF+ Incentive Program - $1 Million for Montana, please submit your applications before November 15, 2023. As a

reminder, this program is an incentive for LCFs to grow their unrestricted endowed assets. When your LCF reaches its fundraising goal, MCF will provide funds for immediate grantmaking or other needs. The program will run from January 1, 2024 to December 31, 2028. Over the course of that time, your LCF could receive over $30,000 from MCF!

Do you have questions about the LCF+ Incentive Program? If so, please reach out to Taylor at or (406) 603-4913.

Valley County Community Foundation Awarded "Outstanding Foundation"

We have some exciting news! The Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) Montana Chapter has named the Valley County Community Foundation (VCCF) as the 2023 “Outstanding Foundation” for their National Philanthropy Day Awards. On October 26, we will gather to celebrate VCCF at AFP’s Annual Awards Dinner in Bozeman.

Do you want to hear more about VCCF’s impactful work? Check out this overview of their work:

Valley County Community Foundation (VCCF) has promoted philanthropy in Valley County since 1998. VCCF, an all-volunteer organization, has built six endowments with assets of $1.3 million. With these endowments, they have granted $331,000 for 165 projects and given $79,000 in scholarships. In 2023 alone, VCCF awarded $38,454 in grants to nonprofits across the county. In addition, VCCF ensures that the organization is representative of the various communities in Valley County; their grantmaking is spread equitably throughout the area, and their board has representation from all areas, such as Glasgow, Fort Peck, Hinsdale, Nashua, and Opheim. VCCF ensures that Valley County has the resources needed to face their community’s challenges both now and in the future.

Applications Open: Reimagining Rural 2024

Would your community like to participate in Reimagining Rural? Reimagining Rural brings together community members for three evening events to hear from speakers about how to get things done in small towns. After listening to the speakers, community members discuss what might work in their corner of the state. In addition, Reimagining Rural communities can apply for "seed grants" from the Montana Community Foundation to implement one of these ideas.

"Reimagining Rural brings fresh ideas to small towns that spark big ideas of what is possible for their future," said Tara Mastel, MSU Extension Community Vitality Associate Specialist. "Everything about the program is specifically designed for small towns that are powered by volunteers."

48 communities across Montana have participated in Reimagining Rural. In the past, LCFs have gathered community members to participate in the program. So, if your LCF is interested in community visioning, this could be the opportunity for you!

Reimagining Rural is free, but communities must apply to participate by December 15, 2023. The dates and topics are listed below. More information can be found on MSU Extension's website.

  • January 29, 2024 - Rural is Changing, Not Dying
  • February 12, 2024 - New Ways to Get Things Done in Small Towns
  • February 26, 2024 - Stories of What is Working in Small Towns

Apply Now for Reimaging Rural!

MCF's New Team Members

In September, MCF welcomed two new members to our team! Rebecca Connors joined as the Director of Marketing and Communications and Alley Fontenot joined as a Gift & Estate Planning Director for Missoula and Western Montana.

If your LCF has questions about best practices in communications, Rebecca will be able to answer them. If your LCF has questions about donor cultivation or planned giving (particularly in Missoula), Alley will be able to guide you. If you are not sure where to direct your questions, Taylor can always serve as your main point of contact at or (406) 603-4913.

Here is some more about Rebecca:

Rebecca's background is steeped in leadership, public relations, marketing, and project management. When not in the office, she enjoys being with her husband, two pups, and five horses. Together, they train ranch performance horses, ski, hike, camp, and enjoy everything Montana has to offer. Originally from Pennsylvania, Rebecca moved to Montana in 2008 to attend graduate school at Montana State University.

Here is some more about Alley:

Alley started her professional career as an attorney, where she learned collaborative thinking, the ability to engage people in conversations, and active listening. Alley then pivoted her career to development, where she has been successful at creating and implementing strategic fundraising plans. Alley has lived in Montana (mostly Missoula), on and off, since 1993, and is active and engaged in the community. She is an avid whitewater kayaker, yoga teacher and practitioner, downhill skier, dog walker/hiker, and dancer.

Fundraisers: Tips & Tricks from Seeley Lake Community Foundation

From West Yellowstone Foundation’s “Happening” to Hill County Community Foundation’s “Arts & Appetizers”, LCFs across the state incorporate fundraisers into their annual activities to raise money and gather as a community. Hosting a fundraiser can be daunting, so we sat down with Claire Muller, Executive Director of the Seeley Lake Community Foundation to gather insights and knowledge from her experience.

MCF: What are some benefits of a fundraiser?

Claire: There are a lot, but three that come to mind are: 1) fundraisers bring supporters together, 2) in-person fundraisers generate excitement (and money) in a quick amount of time, and 3) fundraisers are an opportunity to introduce new people to your community foundation’s work.

What are some hurdles to hosting a fundraiser?

Claire: Fundraisers are a lot of work, so that is a hurdle. At SLCF, we think about the time that we spend organizing our annual banquet and auction; it takes time away from serving our community, so we ensure that the output from the fundraiser offsets those costs. Also, we know that it can be dangerous to have too many eggs in one basket and count on your fundraiser for all the money your community foundation would like to raise in a year. What if there is bad weather or wildfire (which has happened to us)? Those pieces can really change the impact of your fundraiser.

MCF: What are some tips for a successful fundraiser?

Claire: If you are thinking about a fundraiser, you should look at the landscape of your community. Where are there opportunities for new events rather than replicating events that other organizations are already doing? Also, it is important to build a good team. We have community members serve on the decorating committee and had a volunteer design our invite; these opportunities allow us to engage new people while spreading the workload.

MCF: Do you have any other thoughts on fundraisers?

Claire: SLCF’s annual banquet and auction has been an impactful way to raise funds and bring our community together in the summer! However, there are sometimes easier ways to raise money, so do not discount those. I would encourage other community foundations to consider newsletters, end-of-year giving, and asking in person for specific projects and campaigns.

LCFs in the News

Across Montana, LCFs are tackling countless projects – and many of them have received great news coverage for their hard work! Check out the articles below to see what other LCFs have been up to.

Want to see more about your local community foundation in the news? If so, please reach out to Taylor at or (406) 603-4913. We can brainstorm ways to promote your efforts, like writing press releases or pitching stories to your local newspaper

Resources and Opportunities

Below are some resources and funding opportunities that may be of interest. Please feel free to share them with others in your community as well!

  • FWP’s Recreational Trails Program: If your LCF is involved with developing trails, Fish, Wildlife & Parks’ Recreational Trails Program provides grants up to $100,000. Their grant cycle opens in November, so now is a great time to strategize on potential projects.
  • Foundation for Montana History Grants: If your community is working on a historic preservation project, the Foundation for Montana History provides grants up to $10,000. Their grant cycle opens in November, so check out their grant recipients to gather ideas.
  • Reimagining Rural Inspiration Hour: If your community is thinking about how to paint a mural, rehab an old building, or create a trail network, then check out these one-hour webinars from Reimagining Rural. The webinars take place on the third Wednesday of each month from 11:30 am - 12:45 pm, or you can find the recordings online to watch at your convenience.
  • Google Ad Grants: If your LCF is thinking about how to boost its reach online, Google Ad Grants offer eligible nonprofits $10,000 each month in ad spending. This helps nonprofits boost their online visibility and promote events or initiatives. Do you want more information? Check out MNA’s Guide to Google Ad Grants.

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