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What People Say About Us
"Because of BSI’s dedication and commitment to the sector and the process they designed and implemented, Montana now has this wonderful resource: the Montana Nonprofit Association."

Peggy M. Owens, CFRE

Sage Solutions Nonprofit Consulting, LLC
Building Community Foundations in Montana

In BSI's first decade, we worked on developing local community foundations (LCFs) to help grow sustainable philanthropic resources that support local nonprofits throughout Montana, and build community.


Lewis and Clark County Community Foundation, now Helena Area Community Foundation (HACF) partnered with BSI from 2000 to 2009, receiving incubation and consulting services in exchange for being our community foundation "learning laboratory.” We also helped LCCCF to expand its staffing, establish its Youth Philanthropy internship program with Carroll College, and increase its overall financial and organizational self-reliance.

 Bozeman  Area Community Foundation (BACF) In 2007-2008, BSI conducted training with BACF’s Board of Directors, a comprehensive organizational assessment, and goal setting, which enabled the Board  to develop a plan to guide its future growth. 


Park County Community Foundation (PCCF) Following nearly three years of development and incubation led by BSI, a strong, talented Board of Directors raised over half of a three-year "launch" budget of $350,000. In the Fall of 2007, PCCF hired a full-time, professional Executive Director -- the first LCF in Montana to do so, and began grantmaking in early 2008.

2008 Guide to Supporting Montana's Local and County Community Foundations. Montana – like the rest of America – is undergoing the largest intergenerational transfer of wealth in history, which will happen sooner in Montana than elsewhere. This gives financial advisors unprecedented opportunity to not only serve their clients’ financial and estate planning needs, but also to connect Montanans’ love of their communities to charitable gifts that help build LCFs. These gifts – given in perpetuity – inspire others to leave a philanthropic legacy, and develop a growing resource to serve future generations. For copies: Mike Schechtman, Executive Director, 406-443-5860.

In our second decade, BSI continues to be involved in community foundation development.

Strengthening Montana's Community Foundations Collaborative. BSI was delighted to participate in a historic meeting in April, 2011 that explored how to expand funding to support capacity building for MGSR LogoMontana's 70 community foundations [VIEW MAP]. Convened by Tawnya Rupe, Director of Mountain Sky Guest Ranch Fund, and Kelly Bruggeman, Executive Director of First Interstate BancSystem Foundation, seven Montana foundations  and several other organizations established priorities that align closely with BSI's core strengths in LCF development. At a follow-up planning meeting of this tremendously important initiative in October 2011, BSI helped with initial drafting of a plan of proposed activities for 2012 based on survey data and direct input from many LCFs. Resources identified at the meeting were compiled into a resource list, and, subsequently, a Community Foundations of Montana Advisory Council was formed.

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Subsequently, it was renamed the Community Foundations of Montana Council. CFMC has a mission to connect, promote, and strengthen Montana’s over 70 community foundations so they are a force for prosperity and vitality throughout our state. The 14-member CFMC hosts annual convenings and will soon be implementing a statewide awareness campaign to spread the word about the function of community foundations and the value they contribute within each community they serve. For more information.

2012 Community Foundations of Montana Annual Convening (Helena, MT)  During the Convening, BSI's executive director Mike Schechtman participated in the Growing Community Foundations with Staff Support panel. He spoke on Comprehensive Fund Development and provided the following handouts:

Contracted Services for LCF Development. A growing number of Montana LCFs are accelerating their development, and contracting with BSI to help them do this:

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Missoula Community Foundation asked BSI, in 2012, to help them develop and expand their fundraising program, which will include coaching and assistance to their new, full-time Executive Director.

During 2013-2014, BSI will partner with the Missoula Community Foundation and other area foundations to launch The Missoula Project for Nonprofit Excellence.

This place-based initiative will:


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Billings Community Foundation sponsored On the Cusp of Change: Philanthropy's Role in Early Childhood Development (November 14, 2012), in partnership with BSI, for private, family, corporate and community foundations on new developments in the early childhood services field that present leveraged opportunities for grantmaking by Montana funders. Attendees received Opening the Window of Opportunity, BSI's new report on a study that highlights research on interest and experience in grantmaking in early childhood development services by Montana foundations, documenting far greater levels of involvement and interest than previously understood. Topics discussed included:

  • The case for investing in early childhood development;
  • Montana's Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Infrastructure Development Program, and the possibilities for community foundation involvement;
  • The Montana Early Care Initiatives Funders Group's pilot collaboration;
  • Establishing and managing a field of interest fund (for early childhood development grantmaking); and,
  • Possibilities for coordinated campaigns to build early childhood development funds.

Future briefings are planned for other Montana communities, funding permitting.

Listen to a Special Public Radio presentation on the community foundations in Western MT. Learn about  Dragon Boat Races, free skis for kids, a new chipper/shredder, Willapalooza, and a trail between Seeley Lake and Missoula are all projects of Community Foundations in Western Montana. Executive Directors and board members talk about their projects

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