M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust
A sun setting over a swamp setting.
Murdock Trust grantee Blackfoot Challenge Outreach. Photo credit Joe Milmoe

The M. J. Murdock Charitable Trust closed out 2016 with our final grants meeting investing nearly $9.7 million in more than 50 organizations.  That combined with prior grants awarded in 2016, brought the total investment in nonprofits in 2016 to $48.96 million.

While the election season and inauguration have been grabbing the headlines in recent weeks, we cannot help but reflect on a different story!  The deep investment that volunteers, staff, leaders, and citizens are making in our communities continues throughout the region and the country in creative, thoughtful, and sacrificial ways. This civic engagement and volunteerism is a big story happening across the country and making a difference in people’s lives.
Consider for example:
  • In Alaska, the Cook Inlet Tribal Council ($494,000) is creating new models in the way tribal groups work to serve the region, or
  • In Washington, groups like the Holocaust Center for Humanity ($172,000) are educating all citizens of the need for a healthy democracy and the dangers of oppression or Habitat for Humanity ($105,000) that brings communities and volunteers together to address low-income housing needs or New Earth Recovery ($100,000) that helps former offenders seeking to overcome addictions and live purposeful lives.
  • In Oregon, Kairos Northwest ($250,000) provides exemplary treatment for mental health needs in rural areas or Catholic Charities ($259,000), one of a number of faith-based agencies serving the homeless and marginalized in communities across the region and the country.
  • In Montana, Blackfoot Challenge ($180,000) is creatively leading in land use and conservation efforts and University of Montana ($232,000) is doing groundbreaking research in ecology and the environment.
  • In Idaho, Boise State Public Radio ($240,000) at Boise State University and Faith Angle Forum ($150,000) in Washington DC are among the thoughtful voices seeking to educate citizens and journalists on the issues of our day.
While many are responding to our recent election season and inauguration with hand wringing, fear promotion, bombastic promise making, or continued shaming and blaming, perhaps this different response of millions of citizens in our country is worth our attention, knowing, and celebrating!
In moments when our communities are strained, I continue to be inspired and encouraged not by the naysayers, but by the doers and givers… Those who choose to give of themselves for the good of others.  In the Northwest, we are blessed with outstanding arts and culture organizations, education institutions, health and human service nonprofits, and science researchers and educators seeking to address our challenges and difficult problems in creative and sustainable ways.  At Murdock, we partner with a widely diverse and robust group of individuals and organizations that serve diverse populations in inspiring ways.  They do not all likely agree on issues, politics, or paths for the future.  Nonetheless they reach out and work together to build, strengthen, and re-imagine the fabric that holds us together.
For more than four decades, we have been privileged to come alongside these nonprofit groups and leaders and invest nearly $875 million and thousands of hours and resources in leadership development, organization development, fundraising, and friend-raising training. We are among those who believe that, though the current “cultural moment” is a challenging one, it is worth doubling down with those who are working for the Common Good.  Though our political culture feels particularly challenging and full of obstacles or divisiveness; it is also a moment for those who may disagree on some things to join together and work to address the challenging needs of communities such as homelessness, mental illness, prejudice, economic development, illiteracy, violence, and civic engagement.  That’s why we are optimistic about 2017.  We believe politics is downstream from culture, communities, and citizens of good will who care.
My friend Kali Ladd of KairosPDX reminded me recently of a great insight from Martin Luther King, Jr. whose birthday we recently celebrated.  Rev. King said,

“We must develop intelligent, courageous and dedicated leadership.  This is one of the pressing needs of the hour.  In this period of transition and growing social change, there is a dire need for leaders who are calm and yet positive; leaders who avoid the extremes of ‘hot-headness’ and ‘Uncle Tomism.’  The urgency of the hour calls for leaders of wise judgement and sound integrity-leaders not in love with money but in love with justice; leaders not in love with publicity, but in love with humanity; leaders who can subject their particular egos to the greatness of the cause.”

The future begins with each of us.

Happy New Year,
Steven G.W. Moore
Executive Director

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