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Bars, Brothels & Bok Choy

Community historian Elizabeth DeGrenier will give her popular tour 'Bars, Brothels & Bok Choy' tour as an incentive to give to the Western Heritage Center as part as Yellowstone Valley Gives on May 4.

Pints from Angry Hank's Microbrewery and Billings-themed trivia are two ways the Western Heritage Center hopes to pull in younger donors during Yellowstone Valley Gives on Thursday.

The day of online giving mirrors national and state efforts to bring younger folks into the giving fold.

The Billings Community Foundation is working to bring friendly competition and savvy marketing to help 85 nonprofit groups raise money through online giving.

Yellowstone Valley Gives is separate from other efforts, including Montana Gives, Greater Helena Gives and Missoula Gives, all of which are happening May 4.

The Billings campaign primarily involves Yellowstone County nonprofits, but area groups, including the Miles City Community Orchestra and Reach Out Read in Crow Agency, are also involved.

The campaign debuted in Billings in 2016 with a different platform provider, and 61 nonprofits raised $34,000 despite website issues. Ralph Spence, Billings Community Foundation board member, is confident they can raise $75,000 this year.

“The purpose is to get more young people involved in philanthropy," Spence said. "This works like a telethon where you can track the income and have a friendly competition."

Groups offer incentives to donors and the push is on social media to get the word out. Rock Creek Coffee Roasters will serve as donor headquarters from midnight to noon on May 4 when it moves to Thirsty Street from noon to 6 p.m. and then finishes up at Last Chance Cider Mill from 6 to 11:59 p.m. Donor lounges will be set up all over town, beginning at 6 a.m. at SCRaP, 7 N. 18th St., for coffee, doughnuts and hands-on art.

Western Heritage photos

Kevin Kooistra, left, and Elisabeth DeGrenier, of the Western Heritage Center, talk with Phillip Scala about his historic photographs of Billings businesses associated with Northwest Fixture. Community members gathered at the center on Tuesday to have historic photographs scanned for a new Billings history book.

The Western Heritage Center began sending email blasts last week to get the word out that for a $10 donation on May 4, you can participate in a full day of activities, culminating with Pints for Preservation from 6 to 8 p.m. Angry Hanks has donated a keg of beer for the occasion.

Lisa Olmstead, of Western Heritage Center, said the campaign gives the center a chance to show off their diverse programming.

“The whole event is an online fundraiser, but we really want to bring people in,” Olmstead said. “We want to start a conversation.”

Spence said the digital provider will take a 2 percent cut of the donations and credit card providers will take another 3 percent. When participants make a donation, they will have the option of adding on 5 percent so the nonprofit groups gets the full amount of the intended donation.

Local businesses are offering cash incentives to provide hourly prizes, beginning at midnight with a $250 boost to the nonprofit that gets the first donation.


Entertainment Reporter

Jaci Webb covers entertainment for The Billings Gazette.