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What People Say About Us
"BSI’s Montana Nonprofit Connections Program is one of the most extraordinary examples of capacity building in the country, and serves as a national rural model for collaborative grantmaking."

Janine Lee, Co-Founder Grantmakers for Effective Organizations

President & CEO, Southeastern Council of Foundations

Our Mission

The Big Sky Institute for the Advancement of Nonprofits (BSI) builds rural communities by strengthening nonprofits and expanding philanthropy.


Giving Tuesday Web Banner


45 Helena area nonprofits collaborate  in #Giving Tuesday and local #Giving Tuesday activities organized through the Helena Development Roundtable.


Welcome to Big Sky Institute 

BSI is a 501(c)(3) research and development institute that serves Montana and other Philanthropic Divide states through a unique approach involving research, dissemination, education, leadership development and special projects. Nonprofit organizations and communities in these very rural states face uniquely difficult obstacles because of their low population densities, challenged economies, and limited philanthropic and nonprofit sector resources. To help overcome these barriers, BSI develops organizational support systems for both the nonprofit and philanthropic sectors.

Through our programs and projects, BSI’s staff serves as a resource to foundations, augmenting their organizational capacities for various collaborative efforts involving those foundations that partner with us. We also carry out research and education activities for foundations that work with BSI to deepen their knowledge and understanding of the larger foundation community in Montana, and where there are common interests that could be enhanced by collaborative grantmaking. Through these collaborative efforts, we also serve as a grantmaker in various capacity building ventures.

Montana is BSI’s headquarters state; it is also our learning laboratory for carrying out BSI’s unique mission. We pilot capacity building and philanthropy development programs here because we know the landscape, history, culture and players here better than anywhere else. We then refine our programs and share our approaches for replication and adaptation in other rural states.

News and Updates

[10-22-2014] Space Available For Upcoming Sessions of Fundamentals for Fundraisers and Welcome to Helena Seminar Series  Read More...

[10-22-2014] 45 Helena- area nonprofits cooperate in #Giving Tuesday awareness campaign. Visit GT-Helena Facebook page  Read More...

[08-19-2014] Fall Helena Development Roundtable Topics Announced 

We Thank Our Funders

Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation