Meet the Newest Investors in Your Community: Martin and Kathy McAllister

img_6321The newest investors in our community, Martin and Kathy McAllister, moved to Missoula in 1996 from Duluth, Minnesota, and immediately set to work making a positive impact. Kathy served as the Deputy Regional Forester for the Northern Region for the U.S. Forest Service until her retirement in 2008, and Martin runs a Missoula-based firm that works to bust archaeological looters and train law enforcement officials and archeologists on how to protect cultural sites—basically the “C.S.I.” of archaeological crimes.

Martin and Kathy are also active members of the community, and recently dedicated some of their estate funds to three of their favorite organizations: Five Valleys Land Trust, YWCA Missoula, and the Missoula Community Foundation. They did so through a unique tax credit incentive aimed at encouraging individuals, businesses, and organizations to make lasting investments in their communities by giving to Montana endowments.

What makes you proud to be a Missoulian?

Kathy: All of the interest in open space, outdoor recreation, making land accessible for anybody who wants to be on it and use it, and the level of commitment the community has to community well being. And it’s so dog friendly! This is the longest we’ve ever lived any place. We have stronger roots here than any place else.

Martin: I just love everything about Missoula. I love its size, I love the whole community. I suppose there are times during the winter months when I wish it were warmer and a little less grey.

What does it mean to you to leave a legacy for your community?

Martin: Being an archeologist, I’m all about legacies. To me it means that you’re making a contribution to seeing the things that you believe in go on beyond your lifetime.

Kathy: Besides the Community Foundation, the YWCA and Five Valleys Land Trust are just so important from our perspective about what they do for the community in terms of both the environment and women and children’s issues and needs. When you talk to Dale [Woolhiser, founding board member of the Missoula Community Foundation] about community foundations, it’s just an amazing resource. To be part of that is rewarding.

Martin: A lot of people would probably sit around and say that’s something that’d be nice to do, but I don’t want to make the effort to do it. I don’t want to take the time, do all the research, and so on. The Missoula Community Foundation just makes it so easy to do it. I think that’s very important.

How has designating part of your estate to benefit Missoula changed you?

Martin: It makes you feel good; you realize that instead of leaving [your estate] to a family member, which isn’t going to have any kind of beneficial effect in the larger perspective, you’re going to do something good for the community.

Kathy: Martin is still working. I worked for the Forest Service for almost 35 years. To think that you didn’t work that hard just to have material things in your life, that there are resources available to you to make something happen for other people—that’s good. I don’t feel like we’re going to get a Nobel Peace Prize or the door to heaven will be immediately open to us. But it’s good.

With so many great organizations to support, why did you choose to support the Missoula Community Foundation?

Kathy: The Missoula Community Foundation was just this nice vehicle to make a lot of this stuff happen; why wouldn’t we want to make sure that the Community Foundation got some resources into perpetuity, too, so that they could keep going?

Martin: The Community Foundation makes it all happen, so obviously you have to think about them as well as these other causes that you have. And we really like Meredith and we really like Dale.

What would you say to someone considering making an estate gift through the Montana Charitable Endowment Tax Credit?

Kathy and Martin (at the same time): Do it.

Kathy: Do it if you have the resources and can make that kind of a gift. I don’t know how long it’s going to be there, but for right now, it’s a great tax advantage. Just the idea that you’ve got resources headed someplace, where they can benefit the community after you’re gone, is a good thing.

Martin: We made the estate gift because we love Missoula, but the tax advantage was astounding this year. It was impressive.

What do you think people should know about the Missoula Community Foundation?

Martin: A lot of people don’t want to talk about estate planning because you have to acknowledge your own mortality. As Amy [Sullivan, director of the Montana Office of Planned Giving] has pointed out: If you don’t have a will, the state of Montana will be happy to distribute your assets for you, but do you really want that to happen? I think that’s what the Missoula Community Foundation does, it’s this vehicle that educates people about planned giving and makes it real easy for them to do it.

At the Missoula Community Foundation, we believe that everyone can be a philanthropist regardless of their financial resources. Do you see yourselves as philanthropists?

Martin: That’s a loaded word in my mind. Philanthropy. I’m not a Rockefeller or something like that. But if you probably looked up the definition of that word, it would be helping other people without any expectation that you would get anything in return. That’s what philanthropy is in my mind. So, yes, I think everybody can be a philanthropist, and I think we are. We could take that money and squander it throughout the course of our lifetime or leave it to our sisters and let them squander it. And we’ve chosen not to.

Kathy: It’s probably something that we should have been doing 30 years ago. You go through your life when you’re younger thinking: I need to have this money. And here we are now in our 60s, where financially we are in a position to do something with our money besides spending it on ourselves.

From the perspective of sitting on the board of Five Valleys Land Trust: Every dollar helps. If you can give an organization $25, that’s money that they didn’t have that they can put to good work. You don’t have to have thousands of dollars to support the organizations that are important to you. You just have to be willing to support them. Maybe it’s not even money. Maybe it’s time. Maybe you volunteer to help with the girls program at Y or pick up trash for Five Valleys. There’s lots to do.

Any last words?

Martin: You really need to plan. You need to think about the long-term and what you want to have happen to your resources after you’re gone. That’s what the Missoula Community Foundation does.

Kathy: Being on the board of the Five Valleys Land Trust I know how hard that organization works to garner donor support and complete projects that make western Montana the special place it is…it’s really important work and its hard work. We would be so much poorer, as a Missoula society, if these organizations weren’t out there doing what they do. We are pleased to be able to contribute towards their successful futures.

Consider dedicating part of your estate to the Missoula Community Foundation to ensure your community remains a vibrant place to live for future generations. To find out how you can take advantage of the Montana Charitable Endowment Tax Credit, contact Meredith Printz at or 406-926-2846.

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