M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust

Updated: Dec 3, 2020

As communities throughout the Pacific Northwest continue to address the urgent needs resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, the Murdock Trust is providing regular updates on resources and funding opportunities for nonprofits serving the common good of our community, as well as highlighting stories of value across our region.

What the Murdock Trust is doing

In many ways, it feels as though we have lived a year in just the last two months. Since leaders and communities across the Pacific Northwest and United States began to recognize the real risks associated with the spread of COVID-19 and the necessary steps to flatten the curve, we have all experienced great change.

  • We have seen and continued to see true heroism across our communities from frontline healthcare workers and first responders who risk their own health to care for ill patients.
  • Similarly, we have seen great selflessness from essential workers across a variety of sectors, from trucking to grocery clerks to delivery drivers to nonprofits, who have put their own well-being in jeopardy to ensure that the needs of their community continue to be met.
  • We have tried to adapt to a world of social distancing where beloved events and traditions must take place behind a screen and where digital connections have replaced those we would rather have in person.
  • We have all experienced the fear and anxiety that comes from a grave health risk that moves silently within our communities, as well as the distress caused by disruptions to our more mundane routines like shopping for groceries or visiting a local park.

Life at the Murdock Trust has been no different. While our staff has adapted all of our site visits, convenings and Enrichment programming to virtual settings, we’ve also sought to pivot and enhance how we seek to serve the community so that we can be sure our efforts continue to meet the diverse needs of the region we support. This has included several steps, such as:

  • Maintaining a by-invitation, expedited grants program to deliver immediate financial investment to nonprofits to help address the needs raised by the COVID-19 pandemic head on while continuing our Strategic Grants program in tandem.
    • To date, we’ve awarded $15.6 million through 157 Emergency Support Grants across six areas of service
  • Increasing our flexibility and adapting our timelines for grantees to complete previously approved projects.
  • Continuing to engage leaders from across the sectors and the region we serve to best understand the immediate and anticipated needs of the Pacific Northwest.
  • Connecting nonprofits and their leaders with additional resources and guidance, including 1:1 coaching, webinars with national leaders and digital assets so that they can best serve their constituents (full list below).

The Murdock Trust’s mission continues to center on listening to the individuals and nonprofit organizations on the front lines of the communities we serve to understand how and where we can best help build the capacity to meet the diverse needs of our region.

With this mission and our values as our North Star, we continue to introduce adjustments to our work to serve the needs of our community related to the COVID-19 pandemic and what follows.

COVID-19 Support Grants

We believe that our collective recovery from this pandemic will come in phases that will often overlap across communities and sectors based on the trajectory of the coronavirus.

  • Emergency Response and Planning – Addressing the immediate needs of the community that will allow us to begin to flatten the curve. This includes jumpstarting research, fortifying medical resources and testing and ensuring basic needs such as shelter and food are made available to those impacted.
  • Stabilization and Reframing – Following the guidelines provided by our community leaders as we seek to return to “the new normal,” areas like childcare, job training and many other sub sectors our community leans on will need support and assistance in order to effectively redeploy.
  • Restart and Redeployment – As our economy continues to fully reopen and the safeguards currently in place begin to fall away, how can we help communities flourish in this new normal? What emerging needs will nonprofits and community organizations and collaborative efforts have to best serve individuals, families and communities?

Our team is currently at work developing our framework for our ongoing response to needs related to the COVID-19 pandemic through our grants and programs, informed by ongoing discussion with community leaders.


As an organization, our focus is on investing in the capacity of nonprofits to serve the common good of the Pacific Northwest. We do this both through our grants, but also through our Enrichment programs and our convenings that are designed to support and grow the capacity of those who lead and serve the nonprofit sector.

Our team continues to adapt our existing, in-person curricula and meeting strategy across multiple platforms to provide ongoing support to nonprofit professionals in helpful ways. In the coming weeks and months, we will continue to offer valuable webinars and online discussions to help meet the needs of the nonprofit sector.

In addition, we recognize that the nonprofit sector is now in a state of transition itself. Over the last two months, organizations were forced to radically adjust their plans for the coming year and beyond. There continues to be a hunger for as much research, data and supporting material as possible to help inform and guide us all through this process. We continue to support this through our COVID-19 resource page and regular updates.

While it is important that organizations remain apprised of the latest developments and best practices, the frequency and volume of communication by organizations like ours needs to scale back so as to not cause distraction.

As a result, we will continue to keep our COVID-19 resource page updated; however, our weekly email updates will shift to a monthly cadence.

If you have a resource you would like to share, please email it to Colby Reade directly at colbyr@murdocktrust.org.

COVID-19 Grantees in Action

Other funding opportunities in the region

Nonprofit resources


  • Discerning Whether to Press Into or Pause Entry Into a Volatile World: Nate Parks, President/CEO of Berea Ministries, leads a discussion on key questions with a particular emphasis on camps and conferences and how organizations can determine their best path forward in the uncertainty of 2020. 
  • In partnership with the Murdock Trust, Andy Crouch and Dave Blanchard of Praxis are sharing a two-part webinar series that builds on their piece “Strategies for Winter,” Dave and Andy will share the essential insights they are learning from, and sharing with, entrepreneurial business and nonprofit leaders.
    • Session one (Strategies for Winter) and Session two (Leading without a Forecast) can be viewed here.
  • Terra Mattson of Living Wholehearted led a webinar entitled “Now What? Leading with Courage and Integrity” for women in leadership. You can view the recorded webinar here.
  • Arthur Brooks joined the Murdock Trust for a discussion on “Love in the Days of COVID-19.” Learn how social distancing impacts our biochemistry and gain strategies to move forward in our “new normal.”
  • Leadership in Crisis (Center for Effective Philanthropy)
  • Alpha Canada provided a detailed discussion regarding COVID-19 impacts on faith-based communities and how community leaders can help engage during this challenging time.
  • Arthur Brooks shares insight on how isolation and the stress of social distancing can drive anger and how to combat these negative emotions in your own relationships – Managing Anger in our Relationships and Society.
  • From recent protests against systemic injustice to the COVID-19 pandemic to economic uncertainty to a national election cycle, anxiety, isolation and fear continue to fuel divisiveness and anger. In times like these, how can each one of us serve as the strong, compassionate leaders our communities need? Arthur Brooks joined the Murdock Trust for a discussion on this topic, diving into how different leadership styles can best serve an organization in different moments and how every leader can adapt their style to needs of that time.


Resource Collections


  • American Philanthropic has offered to provide 30- to 45-minute, pro bono consulting calls for up to 25 Murdock Trust grantees to help answer fundraising questions and brainstorm ways to keep your organizations and missions going strong in this time of uncertainty. To take advantage of this opportunity, please reach out to Liz Palla at American Philanthropic at lpalla@americanphilanthropic.com to schedule a time. Please include “Murdock Trust” in the subject line of your email and include your name, contact information, your fundraising goal for the year and a link to your organization’s website in the body of the email. 
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