Whitefish Community Foundation – A Year in Review

While the stock market had its ups and downs in 2018, Whitefish Community Foundation grant programs remained steady and strong. The Foundation distributed over $6 million, mostly to local nonprofits, through several grant programs.

The Great Fish Community Challenge finished with another record year, raising over $2.4 million for 50 charities. The Community Foundation awarded a 51% match on the first $20,000 raised by each nonprofit.

The Foundation also awarded two Major Community Project Grants in 2018. The Foundation awarded $25,000 to Project Whitefish Kids to finish the playground and gazebo at the Smith Fields Youth Sports Complex. The Foundation also awarded $117,500 to the Montana Veterans’ Home to purchase a new ADA accessible bus.

In addition to the 50 charities benefiting from the Great Fish Community Challenge, the Community Grant Program awarded $71,000 to an another 42 local nonprofits in 2018. The quarterly grant cycles expanded the Community Foundation’s impact even further.

The value of the Foundation’s donor advised funds (DAFs) increased by 20% in 2018. Those DAFs distributed almost $2 million to qualified charities. The grants distributed from the funds greatly impact the work of our local nonprofits, and the administration fees that DAFs pay to the Whitefish Community Foundation are one of the primary sources of funding for the Foundation’s programs.

Designated funds held by the Community Foundation granted just over $1.4 million in 2018 to several major projects benefiting Whitefish, including three related to the Whitefish School District. Private donors continued to support technology programs through designated gifts, and the Center for Sustainability and Entrepreneurship’s Designated Fund received several large donations that allowed Whitefish School District to complete the building project. The Whitefish Performing Arts Center, another private-public project at Whitefish Middle School, has been receiving annual program support from DAFs, designated funds, and from the Whitefish Community Foundation’s Community Grant Program for more than 10 years.

Endowment development will continue to be an important part of the Foundation’s mission. In 2018, the Foundation opened three new endowment funds for local nonprofits and secured over $350,000 in endowment gifts. Endowments provide a sustainable source of funding. To date, the Community Foundation holds 27 permanent endowment funds for local nonprofits.

What’s in store for 2019?

As a community foundation, we connect people who care to projects that matter. In 2019 we will work to build more opportunities for donors to connect with important needs benefiting our community. We will continue to build a strong Circle of Giving to provide important grant funding to our local nonprofits. We are here to serve our community and we value the trust bestowed upon us by our donors, grantees, community leaders, and the people we serve.

The 5th annual Great Fish Community Challenge will expand in 2019 to include more charities. The Challenge will launch July 25 and run seven weeks, ending September 13. Nonprofits interested in participating in the Challenge must fill out an application that is due February 28 by 4 p.m. In 2018, 1,603 donors contributed to the Great Fish Community Challenge. With a possible 55 charities or more participating in the 2019 Challenge, our goals are to exceed the number of donors that gave during the 2018 campaign and raise more money to help benefit critical programs.

The Community Grant Program will be offered twice in 2019, with applications due in April and October. The maximum request for a Community Grant will increase to $4,000. Nonprofits that do not participate in the Great Fish Community Challenge are eligible to apply.

Community building projects that can benefit from the Major Community Project Grant Program will be a priority for the Foundation. We will continue to work with our DAF advisors to make bigger impact grants that are rooted in community. We are deeply committed to our work in service to the place we call home.