December 16, 1999
Seeley Swan Pathfinder
Seeley Lake, Montana
Seeley Lake Area Community Foundation
Awarded $2,500 Challenge Grant
The Montana Community Foundation has awarded two grants to the recently formed Seeley Lake Area Community Foundation.
The first, a $2,500 challenge grant requires the Seeley Lake affiliate to raise $7,500 by next September to begin a permanent endowment fund. The principal will be held and invested by MCF as the Seeley Lake permanent endowment fund. When the fund has grown to a target amount, set by the Seeley Lake Area Community Foundation Advisory Committee, up to 5% of the value of the accumulated funds will be distributed from the interest earnings annually for local service projects.
The second grant is $500 to cover part of the organizational costs of the local affiliate and costs of raising the matching funds.
The local community foundation allows individuals and businesses to take advantage of considerable tax advantages while providing continuing support for local service organizations.
In 1997 the Montana Legislature created a tax credit for endowed philanthropy which allow donors a tax credit of 50% of the value of a donation of up to $10,000 per year per individual for a planned, irrevocable donation and for an outright cash donation from a corporation or estate. Donations must be at least $5,000 to qualify for this special Montana State tax credit. In addition, such donors may also take the normal charitable tax deduction on federal income taxes. Smaller donations quality for the regular state and federal charitable tax deductions.
The idea of creating an endowment for Seeley Lake got a boost last spring when the Seeley Lake Elementary School Board investigated creating a school foundation. Loren Rose, school board member said, "The Board began thinking that the elementary school should have a capacity to solicit and receive planned gifts, but we realized that a community-wide foundation with a permanent endowment has more potential and can still help our schools."
In September the Elementary School Board convened a public meeting to discuss the possibility of creating an endowment for Seeley Lake.
In subsequent meetings, participants considered establishing an independent community foundation or affiliating with the MCF. Stan Nicholson observed that "the MCF has an impressive short history in providing assistance to Montana's charitable organizations. It led the legislative effort to create Montana's generous state income tax credit to encourage the formation of endowments and it has a very good investment record for more than 400 endowment funds which in total have now grown to some $25 million." Members of the advisory committee agreed to affiliate with MCF and the request for the challenge grants was submitted in early November.
Advisory Committee members are: Stan Nicholson, Larry Marx, Mary Ann Morin, Anita Richards, Loren Rose and Mark Williams. At the first official meeting, they shared what they found especially appealing about a community foundation for Seeley Lake. Mark Williams said he was attracted by the cooperative fundraising potential of a local foundation, especially some of the tax advantages. Mary Ann Morin said she likes the new vehicle for giving, and sees the long-term focus and emphasis as much needed for Seeley Lake. Anita Richards added that she is interested in seeing how a foundation can assist individuals and families who wish to memorialize loved ones by helping one or more service organizations in our community.
Over the coming months, the Committee will be reviewing the policies and experiences of various Montana local community foundations. The Committee will set targets for the growth of the fund, hold public meetings to inform more of the community about the local Foundation and work to raise the match for the challenge grant.
Anyone interested in making a founder's contribution to the permanent endowment in this tax year should send a check to the Montana Community Foundation, 101 N Last Chance Gulch Suite #211, Helena, MT 59601. Make the check out to Montana Community Foundation/Seeley Lake Area Fund. For more information, contact an Advisory Committee Member or call Stan Nicholson at 677-2517.