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Study: Nonprofit Investments in MT Bring Big Payoffs

September 30, 2010

HELENA, Mont. - Give a dollar – and make a difference worth $150. A new study by the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy tracked each foundation dollar granted to 20 nonprofit advocacy groups working to change policies, rules and laws in the Northwest. The goal was to calculate the return on the investment in terms of better wages, living conditions and expanded services.

In Montana, state standards to protect rivers from coal bed methane pollution and changing laws to boost voter turnout are two victories touted in the study, along with campaigns for higher wages. Report co-author Lisa Ranghelli says progress on health coverage for Montana kids is also notable.

"A couple of organizations collaborated to expand access to the Children's Health Insurance Program, so that many more low-income children will get access to health care."

NCRP Executive Director Aaron Dorfman says, while they focused on grants from foundations, there's a lesson to be learned for anyone giving to charities. He suggests focusing not just on direct services, but to keep the bigger picture in mind.

"If you're an individual donor and you want to make a difference on issues, find some advocacy groups in your community that are working to build long-term solutions to these problems."

The Northern Plains Resource Council, Montana Women Vote!, and the Montana Human Rights Network are featured in the report. It is online at www.ncrp.org.

Deb Courson, Public News Service - MT