Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Great Fish Challenge reels in $3.2M for nonprofits

| October 27, 2020 12:00 AM

The 2020 Great Fish Community Challenge came to a close on Monday with a celebratory virtual awards ceremony. A total of $3,282,681 was awarded to 56 participating Flathead Valley nonprofits to support work in health and human services, conservation, recreation, the arts, animal rescue and education.

Of the total raised, 47% was allocated to nonprofits established in Whitefish, 41% to Kalispell, 9% to Columbia Falls, and 3% to Bigfork.

Whitefish Community Foundation offers the Great Fish platform to local nonprofits free of charge, and during the seven-week campaign, over 2,400 donors gave $2,660,537. These generous individuals and businesses gave to an average of 3.15 charities, helping each charity in the campaign raise an average of $51,717 — a 20% increase over 2019.

The Great Fish Match Fund grew to $601,254 in 2020, awarding the strongest match in the history of the campaign. The Match Fund granted a 56% matching grant on the first $20,000 raised by every nonprofit, resulting in a maximum Great Fish Matching Grant of $11,200.

The Community Foundation also awarded $10,500 in Incentive Grants and $28,000 in Special Awards, including the prestigious Great Fish Award. The Great Fish Award, given to a participating nonprofit for their impact on our community and creativity in using the Challenge to tell their story, was awarded to Farm Hands-Nourish the Flathead. Farm Hands, a participant since 2015, used the Challenge to grow its donor base to raise over $99,000 during the 2020 campaign. The Great Fish Award is accompanied by a $7,500 grant, and recognizes the work of Farm Hands to expand student access to food in the Columbia Falls School District through the weekend backpack program and school food pantries.

Whitefish Community Foundation Board of Directors also awarded a $15,000 Major Grant to Whitefish Rotary Charitable Fund for the “Gotta Go Bathrooms” project, to bring ADA-accessible restrooms to the new playground and pavilion area at Smith Fields Youth Sports Complex.

The 2020 Great Fish Community Challenge brings much-needed funding to the nonprofit community at a time when COVID-19 has necessitated the cancelling of fundraising events, and caused a soaring demand for services.

For more information about the Whitefish Community Foundation visit