Montana volunteer driving to help DU

In one year, Jim Daugherty drove 25,000 miles and raised $55,000 with sealed bid auctions

Jim Daugherty (right) and Dan Lerum,  the owner Bushwakers Steakhouse and Saloon in Lincoln, which hosts one of Jim

Jim Daugherty (right) and Dan Lerum, the owner Bushwakers Steakhouse and Saloon in Lincoln, which hosts one of Jim's sealed bid auctions.

Every week Montana volunteer Jim Daugherty invests about 10 hours running one of his three “trap lines.” Rather than furs, this trapper is collecting slips of paper with bids to buy Ducks Unlimited prints placed on easels at businesses across Montana. In FY16 alone, Daugherty raised $55,000 for Ducks Unlimited through his Sealed Bid Auctions (SBA).

Daugherty works so hard at the DU fundraising technique that he was named the top SBA operator in the country for the two years. DU Chief Fundraising Officer Amy Batson asked Daugherty where he wanted to go with his SBA work. “I told her ‘I’m going to be number one, but you’re going to have to come and give the award to me. She’s been at our state convention the last two years,’” he laughed.

It all started simply with a few SBA print easels in Helena, about 60 miles from his home in Lincoln, Mt. Today, he has 70 of them across the state, and word on the street is SBA volunteers in other states, including Nebraska and Delaware, are gunning for his top spot.

Daugherty enjoys the competition, but is that why he drives 25,000 miles a year? “I do it to raise money for the ducks,” he said, “and I like talking to people.”

Talking to people can be the most challenging part of this volunteer job but where he is doing the greatest work for DU. Daugherty calls most of the bidders because each one represents a possible connection to building DU chapters in Montana.


“There’s a box on the bid slip to check if you are interested in knowing about an upcoming event or becoming a volunteer,” he said, “and I don’t miss a chance to talk to these folks. We’ve gotten volunteers this way and even started a chapter with these calls. Through the SBA program, we were able to start a chapter in Seeley Lake (Montana), and they’ve raised $15,000 a year for each of the last two years.”

Because of driven volunteers like Jim Daugherty, the SBA program continues to bring in unrestricted revenue critical in funding DU conservation projects. At the end of FY16, SBA net revenue boasted a 3% increase with net dollars raised over $578,000.