Great Fish Community Challenge

Whitefish Community Foundation

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Grant amount: Up to US $20,000

Anticipated deadline: Feb 28, 2019 3:00pm PST

Applicant type: Government Entity Nonprofit

Funding uses: Applied Project / Program, Research, General Operating Expense

Location of project: Flathead County, Montana

Location of residency: Flathead County, Montana

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About this funder:

View past grantees & full 990 summary


The mission of the Whitefish Community Foundation is to enrich the quality of life in the Whitefish area by fostering philanthropy, building endowments, and helping donors and nonprofits benefit our community.

The Whitefish Community Foundation offers support to nonprofits in the areas of Health, Human Services, Education, Sports & Recreation, Environment, Civic, Animals & Wildlife and Arts & Culture. We offer several grant programs to help nonprofits benefit our community.  

About the Great Fish Community Challenge

The Great Fish Community Challenge launched in 2015 as a new matching grant program organized by the Whitefish Community Foundation. It is a collaborative fundraiser, designed to encourage mission awareness while raising thousands of dollars to support local nonprofit programs and services. The Great Fish Challenge has grown every year since inception, raising over $1.1 million for 32 local nonprofits in 2015, over $1.4 million for 40 nonprofits in 2016, and over $2.0 million for 45 nonprofits in 2017. 

The 2018 Challenge will launch July 26 and span seven weeks. With a single gift made to the Whitefish Community Foundation between July 26 and September 14, donors can contribute to any number of local charities participating in the Great Fish Community Challenge. Each participating nonprofit will receive gifts designated to them, as well as an additional percentage match from the Whitefish Community Foundation.

The significant expenses associated with the Great Fish Community Challenge, including staff support, marketing, administration, and event management (over $100,000 in 2017), are paid by the Whitefish Community Foundation as a community service. Participating in the campaign together builds camaraderie and mission awareness within our nonprofit community and the community at large, and allows everyone to benefit from lower fundraising costs. Participation in the Challenge is free for nonprofits.

The Whitefish Community Foundation will launch the Challenge with a minimum of $200,000 in the Great Fish Challenge Match Fund. The match is the backbone of the Challenge and a percentage match will be awarded on the first $20,000 raised by each nonprofit. We cannot predict the final amount in the Match Fund, or what the match percentage will be until the end of the Challenge. 

The Challenge will culminate with a community celebration and 5K fun run, known as the Great Fish Color Run, on September 8 in Depot Park. 

Challenge Grant Structure

The Great Fish Community Challenge grant structure was developed to allow all organizations to benefit fairly from the match. 

The $5,000 Minimum:

Nonprofits must raise at least $5,000 to qualify for the match. No match will be awarded if the $5,000 minimum raised is not met. 

The $20,000 Cap:

  • Participating nonprofits receive 100% of designated contributions received in their name.
  • Designated contributions, up to a total of $20,000 per eligible organization (the cap), receive the match percentage. 

The Match Percentage:

The match percentage, which will be announced at the Awards Party on October 12, 2017, depends on the ratio of the total amount raised in the Great Fish Fund (match money comprised of Circle of Giving, corporate donations, and Friends of the Great Fish Match) compared to the amount of eligible designated contributions. 

Use of Funds:

  • Use of donor contributions and matching funds is restricted to local, non-religious programs.
  • Matching funds cannot be subsequently granted to another participating organization.
  • Funds are restricted to the use described by the organization in the Mission and Use of Funds statement in the Great Fish Community Challenge 2017 Application.  

You can learn more about this opportunity by visiting the funder's website.


  • To be eligible to participate in the Great Fish Community Challenge, organizations must:
    • Be located in Flathead County, Montana
    • Provide a service or benefit to the residents of the greater Whitefish area
    • Have 501(c)(3) public charity status with the IRS or be a government entity
    • Have updated their GuideStar profile to achieve the GuideStar Bronze Level of participation
    • Have received a Whitefish Community Foundation Community Grant in the past. Participation in the Community Grant Program allows the Grants Committee to become acquainted with an organization’s mission, programs, and needs through their application and a site visit
    • If they have participated in previous Great Fish Challenge campaigns, complied with the rules, and submitted a Great Fish Challenge Grant Report by February 9, 2018
    • Confirm that funds raised will not be used for religious or political programs
    • Not be nonprofits that are sponsored organizations (a sponsored organization is defined as an organization that has a fiscal sponsor from which it receives funds, and the sponsored organization operates under the nonprofit status of the sponsor)
    • Organizations may participate in either the Great Fish Community Challenge or the Give Local Flathead program, but not both
    • Have a designated contact person with a current email address to receive communications from the Whitefish Community Foundation. Internet access is available at the Whitefish Community Library.
    • Agree to comply with all the participation requirements, rules, and procedure.


  • Educational institutions are not eligible to participate.
    • (Educational institutions are defined as places where people of different ages gain an education, including preschools, childcare, elementary schools, and universities, and excluding places that offer classes in a specific activity, such as music or art). 
  • Funds may not be used for religious or political purposes.