Great Fish in a league of its own

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When it comes to raising money for nonprofits, the Whitefish Community Foundation’s Great Fish Community Challenge is in a league of its own, a true marvel of community spirit and support.

The popular, seven-week annual fundraising challenge raised a staggering total of more than $2.8 million this year that will be split among 53 nonprofit organizations. Wow, just wow!

The Whitefish Community Foundation has established itself as the backbone of giving in the Flathead Valley since it began in 2000, and every year the foundation knocks it out of the park. Since the Great Fish Challenge began five years ago, more than $9 million has been raised through that fundraising effort, benefiting more than 63 nonprofits.

This year the nonprofits raised $2.27 million, and the foundation matched $485,000. What’s impressive is that 80% of the nonprofits raised more than they did last year, and the average donor gave to roughly three nonprofits. There was a 500-donor increase this year, too, reflecting the growing support for this challenge.

And don’t forget the Whitefish Community Foundation has several other avenues for giving, such as its community grants programs. If you’re looking for an organization worthy of your charitable, year-end giving, your money will be put to good use at the Whitefish Community Foundation.

Glacier National Park’s fundraising partner has spent much of the past few years focused on the Sperry Chalet rebuild. Now, with that historic project set to wrap up this fall, the Glacier National Park Conservancy is ramping up for another ambitious year of giving.

The Columbia Falls-based association is planning to fund a record-breaking 75 signature projects in 2020 totaling $2.5 million. Efforts will range from trail restoration and field trips, to citizen science projects.

About half of the money — $1.2 million — will go toward preservation projects, including a major investment in the all-important fight against aquatic invasive mussels. Scientific research projects span from an assessment of water quality in Lake McDonald to conducting a survey of Glacier’s lynx population.

Other grants will help fund scholarships, research fellowships and vital educational outreach efforts.

For the past 20 years, the conservancy has been a shepherd of private philanthropy for the betterment of Glacier Park. This imperative public-private partnership has benefited not only the park itself, but also the communities that lean on the “crown jewel” as an economic driver — and it deserves continued support.

To see a full list of the 75 projects, and to learn which projects need additional funding, go to www.glacier.org.

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