September 2022
Letter from Mary
Dear Friends,

As we welcome another fall in Montana, the new season brings with it exciting news from the Montana Community Foundation (MCF). 

We are thrilled to announce that MCF has made a $1 million commitment to Montana by investing a portion of our endowment directly into Montana.

As a local impact investment, the $1 million investment’s goal is to generate measurable community benefit alongside solid financial returns. 

The $1 million investment is part of the endowment pooled investment and will be made through the RBC Access Capital Community Investing Strategy directly into Montana real estate. This particular investment is being made directly in Montana housing.

The RBC Access Capital Community Investing Strategy offers exposure to low-income single-family mortgage-backed securities (MBS), multifamily MBS, asset-backed securities, Agency bonds, and taxable municipal bonds that support low- and moderate-income homebuyers, affordable housing, education, healthcare, and job creation in underserved communities.

Impact is one of our key values at MCF and this is a great opportunity to put that value into practice.

Montana is not immune to the housing challenges being seen across the nation. Making this direct investment in Montana is a tangible way we can help address an important issue in our state. We hope this investment will also inspire others to join us in giving back to Montana.

Thank you for entrusting us with your generosity. Your partnership makes investments like this possible.

Planning for Year-End Giving
Does this time of year have you thinking about the causes you care about and how to support them? Here’s a quick guide to year-end giving as you make these important decisions.

1. Determine what cause or causes you want to support.

Are you feeling like you want to give back but don’t know how? Or maybe you have a cause or several causes that are close to your heart and you can’t decide which to support. Try using these five guiding questions to help you get started:

  • What causes interest or excite you?
  • What problems do you hope to see addressed?
  • Is there an area where you have expertise or want to learn more?
  • What opportunities have changed your life and should be available to more people?
  • Is there a population of people you care most about supporting?

2. Give in a way that helps you meet your charitable and financial goals. 
Here is a list of giving options to consider: 

  • Donor Advised Funds - You can establish a Donor Advised Fund at MCF with a single gift that allows you to give to the causes you care about most. You will have the opportunity to name your fund and endow your fund to ensure it will honor your legacy.
  • Gifts of cash, real estate, or appreciated stocks
  • Charitable Trusts
  • Charitable Gift Annuities
  • Qualified Charitable Distributions from retirement accounts
  • Beneficiary designations for life insurance policies, IRA accounts, and bank and brokerage accounts

The Gift and Estate Planning team at MCF is available to answer any questions you may have and to work with you, your family, and your financial and legal advisors as you consider the best ways to structure your charitable giving. Please call (406) 443-8313 or email to learn more. 
Consider Making Grant Recommendations Now
If you have a Donor Advised Fund at MCF, now is a great time to make grant recommendations. Due to the high volume of recommendations that are made in December, your grant awards may be significantly delayed if you wait until the end of the year. 

It’s easy to make your year-end recommendations on our donor portal. Not registered? Register here. (Please allow at least 1-2 business days after you register to complete the process.) If you need assistance, please contact Cathy Cooney, Director of Donor Services, at 406-441-4954 or
Honoring Snowbird Fund Committee Member, Ivan MacDonald
Snowbird Fund committee member, Ivan MacDonald and his sister, Ivy, were recently honored at ACLU’s 50th Anniversary event as the 2020/2022 Jeannette Rankin Civil Liberties Awardees because of their profound commitment to Indigenous justice.

The Snowbird Fund directly supports Native families in Montana as they conduct community searches by providing direct payments to families or individuals leading the search for their missing loved ones. As a Snowbird Fund committee member, Ivan has brought invaluable knowledge, connections, and leadership to the fund.

Ivan MacDonald is a Blackfeet filmmaker based in Missoula, Montana. He is a director and producer focused on Indigenous stories and experiences. The most recent project he produced was Blackfeet Boxing: Not Invisible which aired nationally on ESPN and was just nominated for a Critics Choice Award.

He is currently in production for his first feature-length documentary titled When They Were Here, which focuses on the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIW) crisis in Montana. When They Were Here has received support from Vision Maker Media and ITVS. He has produced and directed work for ESPN and the ACLU and was a Fourth World Media Fellow for Tracey Rector's Indigenous filmmaker program.

Ivan holds a master's degree in social work and has spent years working with Indigenous communities in various settings; prisons, mental health, activist spaces, providing counseling, and conducting interviews for research.

Congratulations Ivan!
September is National Recovery Month- And Your Support Matters
By Demetrius Fassas, Executive Director, Butte SPIRIT Home
“I am no better and no worse than anyone else, and I have nothing to prove.”

I've been using this affirmation daily for the past few years because I have a superpower, and I need daily reminders that I must only use it for good. My superpower presents as addiction. I'm 32 years old, and 7 years into recovery, and I'm still addicted to three things: more, better, and different. I was born in Kentucky, but I started my recovery journey in Butte, Montana, where I still live. Read more of my story here.

Today, I give back to the recovery community that showed me a new way of life by serving as the Executive Director of the Butte SPIRIT Home, a state-licensed transitional living home for men in early recovery from Substance Use Disorder (SUD).

No one is exempt from the impacts of SUD. Everyone has a story about their struggle with addiction. This September, for Recovery Month, we are highlighting the work that moves people forward, from hopelessness into action. You see, recovery happens not because people are focused on the problem, but because those who once struggled against a problem are now fighting toward a solution.

When maladaptive coping strategies have brought a person to the brink of destruction, many turn to various Recovery Support Services for direction. Each day, people who are fighting for their lives in early recovery reach out to licensed addiction counselors, peer support specialists, case managers, probation officers, and community support groups (such as 12 Step programs) for help. These peers and professionals are able to offer their experience, strength, and hope, giving a nudge in the right direction to each person they contact who is earnestly seeking a life of recovery. 

The Butte SPIRIT Home opened its doors to residents in January of 2021. Since then, we have relied heavily on grants and donations to support our work. Now in our second year of operations, we’re receiving insurance reimbursements for professional services rendered, but about 14% of our operating budget still requires fundraising.

That is why we’ve partnered with the Montana Community Foundation to establish the Butte SPIRIT Recovery Endowment. With over $100,000 raised for our endowment thus far, we are off to a great start.

In celebration of Recovery Month, we have kicked off Phase III of our Endowment Fundraiser and hope to raise an additional $100,000 by the year’s end. If you are interested in learning more about our work, or would like to contribute, please visit our webpage at or reach out to me directly at
Grantee Highlight- Montana Wilderness School
Paddling the Missouri
By Martha Sellers – Development Director, Montana Wilderness School
As they carefully climbed over their gear, settled into their seats, and dipped their paddles into the water for the first time, the air was filled with a mix of emotions—apprehension, anticipation, doubt, optimism, awe. It was early June, and 8 Montana Wilderness School students and 2 field instructors had just launched their canoes into the Missouri River at Coal Banks Landing. The plan? To canoe more than 100 miles over 12 days, following the paddle strokes of Lewis and Clark’s Corps of Discovery.

For most of the participants, it was their first time canoeing; for some, their first time on moving water. And while the journey ahead seemed unfathomable for them, the journey they had completed to reach this shore was just as impressive.

Montana is a state of extremes, and wilderness access is a microcosm of those polarities. We have some of the most incredible wildlife and wildlands, and their exploration and enjoyment are often the reason people move here—to fully engage in the outdoors across all four seasons. Yet too many other families, especially those in rural areas or those with fewer means, do not have the same capacity to explore the backcountry. That is where Montana Wilderness School steps in. Read more here.

Thank you to the generous individuals who recently made grants to the Montana Wilderness School through their Donor Advised Funds at MCF! 
Former MCF Board Member, Jim Scott, and his wife, Chris, Honored for their Many Contributions to Montana
Jim and Chris Scott were recently honored at the Billings Chamber Annual Meeting as recipients of the 2022 Legacy Award.

This well-deserved award recognizes "their banking success, philanthropic endeavors, and involvement in the non-profit sector" in the Billings community and across Montana.

Thank you to Jim and Chris for your many contributions to Montana!

Photo credit: Billings Chamber of Commerce
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