There is no other nonprofit in Montana quite like Helena-based Big Sky Institute for the Advancement of Nonprofits (BSI). Our complex mix of program strategies sets us apart from other nonprofits that work on community-building, nonprofit development, and expansion of philanthropy. Simply put, lasting systemic change requires multiple reinforcing strategies.

Examples of programs BSI currently conducts include: 

  • Monthly seminars on fundraising skills that are supported by BSI-authored training materials
  • In-depth training programs on fundraising topics such as endowment development
  • Producing materials to help new executive directors and development staff reconnoiter the fundraising landscape, such as our Access Helena’s Resources!
  • Consulting services on capacity building and organizational development

The nonprofit sector in Helena and across Montana is in the midst of a monumental sea change due to the retirement of the Baby Boomer generation. Many who have led and fundraised for nonprofits for decades have already retired, and more are in the pipeline. BSI’s programs especially target the next generation of executive directors and development staff as they move into critical leadership roles. Additionally, current realities and post-pandemic scenarios for nonprofits call for strong and effective fundraising to rebuild financial underwriting for core programs and operations. In many cases, this will entail helping nonprofits diversify their sources of revenues, including developing new approaches for raising funds through partnerships and multi-organizational collaborations. In response to these challenges, BSI is launching a multi-year initiative, Building the Bench for Fundraising Effectiveness. We will assist nonprofits without fundraising staff to fund, recruit and hire new development staff. Where needed, we will robustly train and coach existing fundraising staff to strengthen priority skills. 

 As BSI looks to the future, we will grow new resources for the sector in Helena and other Montana communities. We will especially focus on developing new, sustainable funding programs for nonprofits. We are kicking off our Early Childhood Development Grantmaking Initiative, establishing permanently endowed, local grantmaking programs to support capacity building for zero to five early childhood nonprofits. BSI will develop the first of these geographically focused endowed grantmaking funds in Helena/Lewis and Clark County, and then expand to other communities.         

What People Say About BSI

Kathy Marks
Operations Director

Rocky Mountain Development Council, Inc. 

BSI has been a great partner to Rocky and to all Helena area nonprofits for years. We appreciate their trainings, advice, and willingness to help.

Phil McGovern
Executive Director

Helena Youth Soccer Association

I am proud to be associated with Big Sky Institute and Michael Schechtman. Over the years the seminars, meetings, and advice from Mike have proven to be invaluable.

Jane Arntzen Schumacher
Retired Executive Director

Child Care Connections

Instrumental in helping us hire our first ever Development Coordinator, we are so appreciative of BSI! Their support of our organization has truly helped us build a sustainable path forward as we continue to increase our impact in the early childhood sector allowing us to better support children, families, and early childhood professionals in our community.

Jacob Kuntz
Executive Director

Helena Area Habitat for Humanity

I applaud BSI’s programs that bring together nonprofit leaders for collaboration and training. We are fortunate to have such a great resource in Helena.