Legacy giving: A conversation that’s full of opportunity

August is National Make-A-Will Month, and you may be reading articles and hearing about estate planning more this month than usual, which makes the next few weeks an especially good time to review your estate plans–or get your wills and trusts in order if you haven’t done so yet.

Charitable giving is an important part of any estate planning conversation. Certainly, bold, legacy-making plans are frequently in the news because of the high-profile people who establish them, but you too, and nearly anyone, really, can leave a legacy to support favorite charitable causes.

Here’s a primer about leaving a legacy:

Q: What is a legacy gift to a charity?

A: Think of a charitable legacy as a post-life gift that you structure in advance. Legacy gifts are often referred to as planned giving.

Q: What assets can be used to make a legacy gift? 

A: Like the gifts to charity that you are already making during your lifetime, cash, stock (especially highly-appreciated stock), real estate, life insurance, an IRA beneficiary designation (which is extremely tax effective), are examples of assets that can be the subject of a legacy gift. A legacy gift can be expressed in your estate planning documents as a dollar amount, percentage of the whole, or a legacy gift of the assets themselves. You will want to choose assets carefully, enlisting the expertise of your financial planner or attorney to do so.

Q: How is a legacy gift actually made? 

A: Legacy gifts are typically spelled out in detail in your will or trust documents. This is especially important because after you are gone, too much is otherwise potentially subject to hearsay or conflict. To attorneys, accountants, and financial advisors, this is common sense, but a surprising 2 out of 3 Americans have no estate planning documents.

Q: What are some particulars to be aware of?

A: Most legacy gifts can be revoked or altered through beneficiary or will changes during your lifetime. This is an important feature, as you can include charitable giving in your estate plans but still be flexible as your overall family and financial picture changes over the years.

Q: What tools does the community foundation offer to help?

A: A particularly useful technique is to establish a fund at the community foundation that spells out the your wishes for charitable distributions to specific organizations. Your estate planning documents can, in turn, simply name the fund as the beneficiary of charitable bequests. You can adjust the terms of the fund anytime during your lifetime to reflect evolving charitable priorities.

Want to know more details about Estate Planning in Montana check out our webinar with Marsha Geotting.

Learn more about how your legacy could establish a fund at the Community Foundation or how we could help fund the organizations you are most passionate about. Call us (406)926-2846 to set up an appointment.

*Please note that The Community Foundation does not render tax or legal advice. We ask that you consult with your professional advisor about your situation before making a charitable gift.

Structure is a critical step in multi-generational philanthropy

picture of family holding hands and walking awayInstilling the idea of charitable giving in children and grandchildren at first blush may appear to be easy, but where to begin, and how to make it ongoing? More and more, wealth advisors are being asked by their clients to weigh in on strategies for fostering a family’s financial values, which frequently include charitable giving traditions.

An important first step in creating any multi-generational philanthropy plan is to consider organizing your charitable giving, such as through a family donor-advised fund at the community foundation.

The process of organizing charitable giving itself creates much-needed clarity around your family’s philanthropic purpose. This is because without an organized approach to family giving, it is easy for children and grandchildren to get confused about their parents’ and grandparents’ processes for making decisions about which nonprofits to support.

Consider this scenario:

"Before we got everything organized through the community foundation, our family seemed to take a shotgun approach to charitable giving," commented the daughter of an entrepreneur who formed a family donor-advised fund upon the sale of a business.

Her mother, the entrepreneur, had underestimated the confusion: "Nearly every check I’d ever written to a charity was aligned with my commitment to supporting a healthy workforce in our community. Without a healthy workforce, my business would never have been successful. Now, though, I see that because I was not involving the rest of my family in my giving and explaining why I was supporting certain causes, it might have looked chaotic to them."

Establishing a fund at the community foundation can be a very effective solution for many donors who are looking to launch a multi-generational giving strategy. Here’s why:

  • Community foundation vehicles are extremely flexible and can be used to engage an extended family in the process of charitable giving. Donor-advised funds, for example, are popular because they allow the donor to name children and grandchildren as successor advisors.
  • When charitable giving is organized through a community foundation fund, the donor can make a large transfer of cash or marketable securities that is immediately eligible for a charitable deduction. Donors can recommend gifts to favorite charities from the fund when the time is right. This is especially useful in the case of those who sell a business or experience a large influx of taxable income in a single tax year.
  • Establishing a donor-advised fund at the community foundation can be a great choice for family-oriented donors. That’s because, at a community foundation, donors, as well as their children and grandchildren, are part of a community of giving and have opportunities to collaborate with other donors who share similar interests.
  • The community foundation can work with a family on a charitable giving plan that extends for multiple future generations. That is because the experienced team at the community foundation supports strategic grant making, family philanthropy, and opportunities to gain deep knowledge about local issues and nonprofits making a difference
  • Finally, the community foundation’s tools and resources make it much easier for families to communicate across generations about the family’s charitable giving purpose and goals for long-term impact.

We welcome the opportunity to work with you  to establish an enduring and rewarding family philanthropy program that is customized to meet your family's unique goals and interests.


Giving After 70 and The Secure Act

Giving After 70 and How The Secure Act Has Changed That

In late December 2022 the Consolidated Appropriation Act of 2023 was signed into law. The Missoula Community Foundation has been watching this legislation carefully because it has the potential to incentivize giving to Missoula area charities – most notably by providing tax benefits and disbursing taxable income for seniors. The Secure Act of 2022, housed in this legislation, enhances and expands the ways in which seniors can use their retirement assets to make charitable gifts. 

So here is the lowdown on the changes and a few articles we have been reading. The IRA Charitable Rollover, passed in 2006, allows taxpayers age 70½ or older to transfer up to $100,000 annually from their IRA directly to a public charity without first having to recognize the distribution as income. These transfers from an IRA to a charity are called Qualified Charitable Distributions or QCDs. 

One of the enhancements in the new legislation is that IRA holders 70½ or older are allowed to make a one time distribution to a charitable gift annuity or a CRUT. This distribution will count towards the IRA holders Required Minimum Distributions (RMD) if you are 73 or older and can help spread that taxable income over subsequent years. 

Marcy Allen, our Executive Director, met Sally Scheafer at a planned giving workshop last fall. Scheafer has been a key player in developing and moving this legislation forward, and her recent article (co-authored by Emily Horiwitz from the American Heart Association who took the lead in organizing charitable organizations to support the legislation) has some great highlights on how seniors and charities can benefit from the changes. The new legislation also indexes the existing IRA Charitable Rollover amount (currently at $100,000) starting in 2024. This will be the first inflationary increase since the legislation was passed in 2006.

As with any new legislation, there are often many questions about how it will work in real life. This recent legal analysis might be of interest to professional service providers, especially with regard to the new “Legacy IRA” provisions allowing eligible taxpayers to make a one-time QCD to a charitable remainder trust or charitable gift annuity.  

The team at the community foundation is a resource and sounding board for both donors and professional service providers. We understand the charitable side of the equation and are happy to serve as a secondary source. This post is for informational purposes only. It is not intended as legal, accounting, or financial planning advice.  

We Raised Over $1M!

Missoula & Bitterroot Gives Raised Over $1 Million This Year!

The Missoula & Bitterroot Gives community fundraising event wrapped up last night and raised $1.1 million for area nonprofits. An initiative of the Missoula Community Foundation, Missoula & Bitterroot Gives supported over a 195 nonprofit organizations this year in Missoula and Ravalli Counties.

“This day tells such a wonderful story of who we are as a community, it celebrates the work of our nonprofits but also the generous individuals and businesses that give,” said Marcy Allen, Executive Director of the Missoula Community Foundation. “We had 196 organization raise funds and share their stories this year, a record. 245 nonprofit staff attended our pre-day trainings. We had 6,340 donations and of those 1215 were new donors to an organization. The day comes together because of hundreds of people and organizations planning the event and working behind the scenes. It is truly remarkable to see Missoula come together like this and support our non-profit sector.”

The money raised isn’t the only benefit to the organizations that participate. The campaign also provides a structure for non-profit staff, volunteers and board members to work together to reach their goals. We had 172 peer to peer fundraising who brought in almost $200,000.

“Missoula Gives platform provides a great framework for nonprofits at any level to raise funds. We hear so many great stories throughout the day, my favorite this year was about a donor who told the person who had solicited him to give ‘Thank you for asking me to give, it brought me such joy’. There is so much joy in giving and I hope every felt some of that yesterday” Allen explained.

The Missoula Community Foundation has hosted Missoula Gives since 2014 and in that time has raised over $6 million for area nonprofits. The foundation also manages charitable funds, connects donors and causes, and is a resource for planned giving.

The day officially ended at 7PM on the 5th but donations can be made through May 13th at MissoulaGives.org.

Mark your calendars for next year’s Missoula and Bitterroot Gives, May 2 & 3, 2024!

Registration for nonprofits opens always opens on February 1st.

See you next year!

New Board Members 2023

Missoula Community Foundation Elects New Board Members:

Julie Osborn & Ben Sokoloski

February 2, 2023

The Missoula Community Foundation Board, together with Executive Director Marcy Allen, is pleased to announce that Julie Osborn and Ben Sokoloski have been elected to serve a three year term on the foundation board.

Julie Osborn is the co-founder of Ecology Project International and has worked in a leadership or volunteer capacity for many area nonprofits, including Families for a Livable Climate, Home Resource, Missoula Symphony and Missoula International School. She is a long-time Missoulian and enjoys applying her experience in nonprofit, political, educational and research organizations to bring together inclusive communities and support innovative programs. She is especially passionate about working with diverse groups to address climate change and environmental equity issues.

Julie was most recently the Finance Manager for Monica Tranel’s campaign, and was a member of the Missoula Community Foundation’s MPNE Advisory Committee.

Ben Sokolosi is a Missoula native with a background in finance real estate and asset management. Backed by his experience with private equity and entrepreneurship – and inspired by the John Ruffatto Business Startup Challenge at the University of Montana – Ben launched, ran and grew the downtown gem Market on Front. In 2019 Ben sold the company to a local entrepreneur and embarked on a new journey in the insurance world.  He joined Stewart Title to develop, strategically reposition and improve systems/efficiencies and most importantly position the company for acquisition, which was carried out in 2021. Ben is currently Area Manager for Fidelity National Title in Missoula and Ravalli Counties. 

Missoula Gives 2023

It’s Time for Missoula Gives 2023

Registration is Live!

Here we go! It’s time to register your organization for Missoula Gives & Bitterroot Gives 2023. We are excited to get underway and encourage our nonprofit partners to register early so you and your colleagues can attend training webinars, ask questions and be fully engaged with all of our resources before the big day.

Our goal is to raise $1.5 million this year and support Missoula & Bitterroot nonprofits, not just monetarily, but with tools and resources to help them grow and continue to serve the needs of our communities.

Polly with Imagine Nation Brewing for Missoula Gives 2022.

We are teaming up with Giving Days across the state on our virtual trainings again this year. Join us for a series of information-packed Webinars that will help you maximize the impact of Missoula Gives — and learn from experts as well as your peers. 

And we hope you will participate in these special efforts that will increase community engagement and support of Missoula Gives.

  • 30-Second Ad Challenge
    • Nonprofits create a 30-second ad and submit it to our voting platform, then the public votes. The winners will have their ad run on KPAX TV and Social Media the week leading up to Missoula Gives. This is a great way to share your story and build interest leading up to the day.
  • Polly Photo Contest
    • Our mascot Polly (the pollinator of philanthropy) will be out-and-about town the week leading up to Missoula Gives. Snap a photo with Polly and enter to win a MG Gift Card to use to support your favorite causes.

We are delighted to host this giving day for the good of Missoula, thank you for partnering with us!

Civil Discourse Grantees

Civil Discourse Small Grant Awards

January 27, 2023 

 The Missoula Community Foundation is delighted to announce the winners of this year’s $5,000 Small Grants – City Club Missoula, Public Policy Institute of the Rockies, and Soft Landing Missoula. This year’s Small Grant Cycle supports programs that facilitate Civil Discourse in our community, which the foundation defines as “conversations in which there is a mutual airing of views without rancor.” Over the past several years, Civil Discourse has become increasingly important and yet is challenging for organizations and communities to put into practice.

 City Club Missoula’s public forums encourage the discussion of new ideas and free exchange of thought. They will use their grant award to offset the rising cost of their programs so the price to attend their monthly luncheons can remain the same and a diverse audience can continue to attend.

 Public Policy Institute of the Rockies will host an educational seminar on the Montana Legislature that will be offered to participants at no cost and will be streamed online. Held mid-way through the 2023 legislative session, the event will help attendees better understand the framework, functions and processers of the legislature, will highlight the importance of civil discourse, and will explore ways to become involved and impact policy.

 Soft Landing Missoula is committed to community education and outreach efforts that facilitate understanding through community conversations, panel discussions, lectures, special events and media for storytelling and education. Their grant award will help fund their Stories of Home multi-media exhibition and assist them in meeting all of their community education goals.The Small Grants awards at the Missoula Community Foundation lift up area nonprofits committed to the focus areas of Arts & Culture, Education and Community Care. And when making grant decisions considers its core values of: community driven, integrity, innovation, impactful and equity.

2022 LoLA Grantees

2022 LoLA Grants Support Healing and Wellbeing

The Legacy of Living Art (LoLA) Fund supports projects that use the arts to nurture and support healing. LoLA grants are awarded yearly to artists and organizations that seek to engage creativity for the benefits of wellness and wellbeing. The fund has granted out $30,000 since 2020 and this year is lifting up Missoula Community Free Fridge, SPARK! Arts and Red Willow Learning Center.

Missoula Community Free Fridge works to expand equitable food access through a network of 24/7 accessible fridges & pantries. They will use LoLA funds to paint the fridges and pantries with colorful, beautiful art to demonstrate their communal nature and expand engagement with the community. 

SPARK! Arts Ignite Learning is a collective-impact and national partner of the Kennedy Center’s Any Given Child. Their LoLA funded project will provide professional development for twenty MCPS  teaching artists to increase social-emotional learning support and mental health and well-being through arts integration in our schools.

Red Willow Learning Center will use their grant award to offer a four-part Transformational Self-Portrait workshop series. This project will benefit people at any stage of recovery from Substance Use Disorder – encouraging participants to imagine the potential for transformation. The series aims to help participants envision a hopeful future of sobriety, effective coping skills and improved mental health.

WGC 2022 Grantee

Women’s Giving Circle 2022 Grant Awarded to Indigenous Made Missoula

Since its formation in 2018, the Women’s Giving Circle of Missoula County has contributed to positive community change by granting $50,000 to local organizations to help pursue projects for the betterment of Missoula.

We are delighted to announce that Indigenous Made Missoula is the recipient of the $10,000 Women’s Giving Circle Grant this year. This Indigenous women-led organization is dedicated to empowering our community by cultivating economic opportunities and creating visibility for a diverse network of Indigenous makers, artists, and talent. Indigenous Made Missoula uplifts established and emerging artists and talent through education, marketing, community building, and culturally-centered events.

They plan to use the $10,000 WGC Grant to establish the Indigenous Art & Talent Network which will support established and emerging artists to effectively increase their economic success by providing access to education, marketing, community building, and creating access to resources, supplies, and opportunities. Through the network, Indigenous Made Missoula will develop strong relationships with both artists and consumers allowing opportunities for unity and growth in our community.

“Art is the greatest asset Indian people have in our communities, yet it is the most underdeveloped.” 

Elouise Cobell, Blackfeet 1945-2011

The other two impressive finalists and recipients of $1,000 grants are The American Indian Women’s Book Club, a program of All Nations Health Center, and Seedlings 4 Solidarity.

Lorilee Evans-Lynn Memorial Scholarship

Lorilee Evans-Lynn Memorial Scholarship

25 November 2022

The Missoula Community Foundation is honored to announce the establishment of the Lorilee Evans-Lynn Memorial Scholarship, which honors the memory, work and passion of Lorilee Evans-Lynn. 

Lorilee was the long-time advisor of the literary magazines Aerie Big Sky and founder/advisor of Aerie International during her twenty-nine-year teaching career at Big Sky High School. The scholarship will support graduating seniors at Big Sky High School who have a passion for the creative arts and are pursuing secondary education in that field.

Lorilee and her husband John moved to Missoula in 1980 so she could study under Richard Hugo at the University of Montana, an influence that loomed large for her, and helped to shape her own future as a writer and teacher. She would in turn pass on her own unique perspective to hundreds of students in the creative writing program at Big Sky High School. Lorilee was passionate about writing and put remarkable energy into teaching her students. Unfortunately, she passed away in 2016 at the age of 59 after a very short battle with cancer.

Lorilee’s family came together to open an endowment fund through the Missoula Community Foundation that will support a $1,500 annual scholarship award – as a way to honor Lorilee’s memory and provide a legacy appropriate to the love and energy she poured on those she taught and inspired.

 Big Sky seniors are encouraged to apply here: Lorilee Evans-Lynn Memorial Scholarship.