Filling the void

How nonprofits are handling lack of funding from Resort Tax Fall Awards

Resort Tax Executive Director Daniel Bierschwale said a few months ago that pressures of COVID-19 have revealed that organizations need to diversify funding sources. Resort Tax funding is not a guarantee, particularly since resort tax is so heavily dependent on tourism – something that does not often bode well during a pandemic.

Things get a little tough when there is more money requested than what is available. Difficult decisions have been made. Big Sky Resort Area District (Resort Tax) FY 21 Fall Awards left a few gaps for some organizations.

Eagle Mount Bozeman Executive Director Kevin Sylvester said the Resort Tax board decision to not fund the organization’s $25,000 request is understandable “How they make their decisions – totally appreciated. If it was a municipality, what would they fund?” he asked.

To fill the gap “our plan right now is just 100% philanthropic dollars.” Eagle Mount will continue to expand its footprint and fundraising. It is beneficial, he noted, that the community rallies around and supports its programs, which provide therapeutic recreational opportunities for people with disabilities and young people with cancer.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Big Sky County (BBBS) also did not receive its funding request for three Big Sky programs that currently have 77 Big Sky youth enrolled. COVID-19 slowed-down some growth, but it is anticipated that BBBS will soon be assisting over a quarter of the Big Sky student population.

A primary goal of the organization is “Youth Mental Health First Aid” training. BBBS CEO Lander Bachert has been certified to teach Teen Mental Health First Aid “as a way to give young people the language and tools they need to communicate and understand mental wellness and crisis in themselves and their peers.” Managed in fidelity with the National Council of Mental Health, Bachert explained that students learn how to identify, understand and respond to signs and symptoms of mental health or substance-use issues in their friends and peers.

“BBBS understands the particular heartbreak associated with loss of life to suicide, and have used our relationship with these nationally recognized organizations to educate, support and uplift the young people in our community,” she said.

The training can be administered to any business, community member, educator or to critical need personnel.

The organization has been weathering the COVID storm, including taking a financial hit from some of their largest fundraisers having to go virtual. Relief grants, a small endowment, and private donations have been helpful, but she is anticipating only bringing in 70-80% of the original budgeted revenue this year – projected to be around an $80,000 loss in funding.

Overall, though, Bachert is grateful BBBS has been able to maintain a full staff through this year “as the needs of our community have not diminished with the chaos that we are currently wading through as a nation.”

“We know that our programs are proven to protect our young people from feelings of anxiety, depression and isolation – and we will keep our heels dug in for our community, and the people that make it so special,” she said.

Gallatin River Task Force (GRTF), a nonprofit dedicated to protecting the river and watershed, had a deficit from the Spring allocation that GRTF Executive Director Kristen Gardner attempted to fill during the fall cycle “but they didn’t go for it.”

GRTF applied for and received some state funding in an effort to fill that financial void.

“We just tightened our budget in certain areas and we started looking at other grants and our banquet, we actually did better than expected, so that was helpful. Individuals and donors were still really generous,” she said.

GRTF Director of Development Ryan Newcomb said the organization is doing well, but needs to do better.

“There’s definitely a deficit that we need to overcome. And we are working to do that by growing our grant applications through foundations and growing our major donor cultivation and individual support from our community,” he said. “This has been a hard year for everyone, but we are hopeful that we will get through this with community support and are optimistic about that.”

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