Closed sign Tip Jar

The Cateye Cafe is closed during typical business hours Friday, April 3, 2020, in Bozeman.

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A group of Bozeman residents this week launched Montana’s first virtual tip jar for workers across the state in all service industries to receive tips directly from the public. provides the public with a list of Venmo handles of service workers, be it fishing guides, hairdressers or bartenders, who rely on tips for at least part of their income. Venmo is a free, secure money transfer app that can be connected to a bank account or used with a Venmo debit card.

“It just provides a service to allow people to go and find someone that they know and then to be able to directly provide them a tip,” said Scott Bischke, one of the organizers of Montana Tip Jar.

Montana isn’t the first place to have a virtual tip jar — some cities have organized similar programs. Montana’s is unique in that it’s not just food service folks who can receive tips. It’s also not just for people in the Gallatin Valley, but around the state.

“Montana, with a million people, is smaller than metropolitan areas that have these virtual tip jars, and so it would be silly to do it just as Gallatin County,” Bischke said.

How the tip jar works is simple. Service workers go to and answer a few questions to be added to a public list.

Tippers can then use that list, also at, to give a tip directly to their favorite bartender, waitress or fishing guide. The list also auto populates a random Venmo account at the top, so if a tipper doesn’t know anyone on the list, they can give a few bucks to a random Montanan who may need it.

“The more people we can get on there, the better it’ll be,” said Martin Coleman, another one of the tip jar’s organizers. “We want people to sign up, but we also want people in the community to search and find their favorite server or restaurant or bar or guide service or gym or fitness club, and tip them.”

None of the money goes into a general account or to any of the organizers, Coleman said. Venmo transfers money directly from one user to another, the only middleman being the transfer service itself.

As of Friday afternoon, Bischke said people from all across Montana had already signed up.

“It’s so early, but that’s cool that in just 24 hours we’re already getting people spread across the state,” he said.

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Melissa Loveridge can be reached at or at (406) 582-2651.

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