M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust

With most recent grant award, Vancouver, WA, foundation has invested more than $1 billion in Pacific Northwest communities since launching in 1975

[Vancouver, WA, June 28] – The M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust announced today that it has officially made more than $1 billion in cumulative grants to nonprofits that serve the Pacific Northwest since opening its doors in 1975. Foundation leaders marked the occasion by celebrating the work of the previous 44 years and shared their vision for the nonprofit’s next $1 billion in giving.  

“This is an incredibly exciting day in the history of the Murdock Trust,” said Steve Moore, executive director, M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust. “We are humbled by the commitment, dedication and impact we see every day from the thousands of nonprofits with which we have been fortunate to partner over the years. Reaching this milestone is a testament to their service as well as the foresight of Jack Murdock and the hard work of our dedicated staff.”

Since its founding in 1975, the Murdock Trust has made 6,718 grants totaling $1,005,703,799 to more than 3,000 nonprofit organizations working in the arts and culture, scientific research, health, human services and educational sectors serving communities in Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington and British Columbia.

“We believe that the fruit of our work grows on the trees of others. The groups we support are on the front lines, serving vulnerable populations across our region, educating children and young adults, inspiring the next round of game-changing scientific research, providing life-saving healthcare and treatment, enriching our communities through performance and artistic expression, all while working to serve and uplift all people of the Pacific Northwest,” said Moore. “We are so fortunate to have played a small role in their mission and work.”  

A Vision for the Next Billion Dollars

The Future of the Murdock Trust

With assets of nearly $1.3 billion (grown from $91 million in 1975), the Murdock Trust can anticipate granting about $50-60 million per year moving forward (depending on economic factors). As foundation leaders reflect on 44 years of grantmaking, they find themselves less focused on past accomplishments and more attentive to the question, “What will the next billion dollars in grants look like? How might we encourage the mission of effective nonprofits to come to life?”

“The path of the Murdock Trust has always been defined by the nonprofits and communities we serve. This will continue to be our North Star as we seek to serve the diverse needs of the individuals, families and nonprofits that call the Pacific Northwest home,” said Moore.

The Murdock Trust makes capacity building grants for specific programs and projects that serve the foundation’s five-state region. While previous grants have supported more than 3,000 organizations, positively contributing to the lives of people in nearly every community around the region, Murdock Trust leaders hope to continue expanding the foundation’s reach in order to partner with even more nonprofits moving forward.

“Our focus is on listening to those individuals and groups that have a direct pulse on the challenges and opportunities in the communities across our region,” said Moore. “We have sought to come alongside and support nonprofits in the work they deem necessary to serve and uplift their region rather than direct groups on what they should do.

“The needs of the Native community in Alaska will be different from the needs of the rural communities of Montana, which will be different from the needs of the Latino communities of Oregon, which will be different from the urban communities of Seattle. We know that the people who can best serve the diverse needs of the wide array of communities that make up the Pacific Northwest are the individuals and organizations that live and work directly with the people who call those areas home.”

Investing One Billion Dollars in Northwest Communities

Sample Grants

The Murdock Trust’s board of trustees reviews proposals and approves grants on a quarterly basis to organizations that work in the sectors of arts, education, health, human services and scientific research within the Pacific Northwest. At the most recent grants meeting, the trustees approved 51 grants for a total of $16 million.

These grants represent a wide array of nonprofits and projects serving the unique needs of the diverse communities that make up the Pacific Northwest. In fact, the argument can be made that nearly every resident of the Pacific Northwest has benefitted in some way from a Murdock Trust grant.

A detailed overview of recent grantmaking can be found in the Murdock Trust’s annual report, published today. A small sample of the types of projects that have been recently funded by the Murdock Trust include:

  • Staffing and Infrastructure Investment for Arts Programs: Boise Philharmonic, International Wildlife Film Festival, 7th Street Theatre
  • Scientific Research: University of Washington, University of Oregon, College of Idaho, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Washington State University, Oregon State University
  • Healthcare Facility Construction and Renovation: Bozeman Health Foundation, PeaceHealth’s Sacred Heart Medical Center at RiverBend, Unity Care Northwest, Lost Rivers Medical Center, West Mont
  • Youth Mentorship: Boys and Girls Club of Richland County, REAP, Friends of the Children – Seattle
  • Refugee Support and Resources: Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization, Refugee Women’s Alliance, Lutheran Community Services NW, Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon, Catholic Charities of Portland, Northwest Immigrant Rights Project
  • Educational Programing: Friends of Zenger Farms, Columbia River Maritime Museum, Oregon Coast Aquarium, Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences, OMSI, Baranov Museum, Sitka Sound Science Center
  • Healthcare Support and Resources: Brian Grant Foundation, Providence Montana Health Foundation, Eagle Mount Bozeman
  • Environmental Conservation and Education: Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center, The Nature Conservancy, National Forest Foundation, Pacific Crest Trail Association, Ducks Unlimited
  • Cultural Preservation and Education: Chehalem Cultural Center, Native Arts and Cultures Foundation, Hopa Mountain
  • Youth Support Programs: Amara, Camp Hodia, Treehouse

“The common theme of all of these organizations is that every project and program that receives a grant is focused on supporting human flourishing in our region,” said Moore. “We make grants that help grow the capacity of nonprofits. Even when we may disagree on certain topics, we seek to find common ground and come alongside organizations so they can continue to invest in the individuals, families and communities of the Northwest for years and decades to come.”

One Man’s Impact

Jack Murdock and the History of the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust

The M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust was founded in 1975 by the estate of Melvin “Jack” Murdock. A lifelong entrepreneur, Murdock co-founded Tektronix with Howard Vollum after completing his service in the U.S. Coast Guard during World War II. Throughout his career at Tektronix, Murdock helped spearhead initiatives such as flexible hours, employee profit-sharing, community service, continuous improvement and an environment that encouraged open communication with senior leadership that inspired and empowered his team to flourish and thrive.

A passionate aviator, Murdock operated a Piper aircraft distributorship out of Pearson Airfield in Vancouver, Washington, and could often be found flying to various locations around the Pacific Northwest to enjoy the region’s natural beauty. During his life, he launched a charitable family foundation, named for his mother, and regularly engaged in community service with a variety of nonprofit organizations while eschewing the praise and attention that often comes with philanthropy.

Following his untimely death at the age of 53 in a float plane accident on the Columbia River, Murdock’s will directed that his entire estate be utilized to establish a nonprofit foundation to serve individuals, families and communities across the Pacific Northwest by supporting organizations and projects that strengthen the region’s educational, social, spiritual and cultural base in creative and sustainable ways.

“Jack Murdock was the type of leader, personally and professionally, with character that so many of us look for today,” said John Castles, trustee, M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust. John’s father, Jim Castles, was a close friend of and attorney for Jack Murdock. Along with Paul Boley and Walter Dyke, Jim Castles was one of the three original foundation trustees. John grew up knowing Murdock and considered him a mentor and role model.

“Jack Murdock believed in building capacity, both of organizations and of individuals, so they could uplift the common good of their community,” Castles said. “He believed in identifying innovative solutions to address serious challenges. You saw this in the way he built his businesses, the way he treated his employees and the way he worked to serve his community. We strive to emulate this example and live up to his legacy every day in our work at the Murdock Trust.”

M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust Giving by the Numbers

Total Granted $1,005,703,799
Total Grants Awarded 6718
By State  
Alaska $55,227,055
Idaho $50,146,213
Montana $85,889,460
Oregon $390,412,583
Washington $309,461,160
National/British Columbia $114,567,328
By Sector  
Arts & Culture $59,904,372
Education $331,775,008
Health $109,611,015
Human Services $309,976,266
Scientific Research $194,437,138
Faith-Based Organizations $314,263,666
Sample Sub Categories  
Native Communities $18,422,084
Rural Health $29,973,720
Public Broadcasting $11,085,500
Mental Health $24,468,650
Performing Arts $37,162,999
Conservation $32,644,611
Under-resourced Communities $53,621,050
Vulnerable Children $25,311,624
Museums $68,881,850
Disability Support $20,054,450
Community Development $13,470,900

About M. J. Murdock Charitable Trust

The Murdock Trust, created by the will of the late Melvin J. (Jack) Murdock, provides grants to organizations in five states of the Pacific Northwest—Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington—that seek to strengthen the region’s educational and cultural base in creative and sustainable ways. Since its inception in 1975, the Trust has awarded more than 6,700 grants totaling more than $1 billion. For more information, find the Murdock Trust on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and on our website.


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