M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust
Image 1: a woman and a young boy do a puzzle together on the floor. Image 2: a tree-lined body of water with mountains in the background. Image 3: a brown bear in the snow looks at the camera. Image 4: a woman hugs a young boy on a play mat. Image 5: a crowd of people with linked arms smile. Image 6: four adults sit around a drum.

This time of year represents a season of renewal. Of fresh starts. Of great opportunity. We open a new calendar, ready to embark on our journey through life as we seek improved health, greater connection to our loved ones or larger success in our professional lives.

While we always seem to put special pressure on the month of January to set us on a new course, it felt like there was a unique intensity and importance placed on the first month of 2021. As challenge after challenge presented itself in historic measure through 2020, it became a running theme throughout our culture that 2021 couldn’t get here fast enough.

It made for lighthearted conversation. It helped many of us remain focused on the proverbial “light at the end of the tunnel” as we struggled against the darkness of 2020 that grew at a magnitude rarely seen before. But in many ways, it was also a false premise.

The challenges we face as individuals, as families and as a community do not follow a schedule. While certain incidents may have served as a catalyst, the underlying issues that lead to a global pandemic, economic uncertainty, protests, divisiveness and wildfire destruction existed in our culture long before we opened the 2020 calendar and will sadly persist well beyond the day we close the book on 2021.

However, there is reason for great hope amidst these trying times. Because just as the roots of difficulty have sought to spread in our community, we have also seen the roots of service spreading far and wide.

2020 marked the 45th anniversary of the Murdock Trust, and in our time serving the Pacific Northwest, we have seen time and again the desire by individuals and organizations to serve the common good of our region through innovative and sustainable solutions. The fruits of this labor and thoughtful planning could be seen in so many ways over the last 12 months.

  • Building on years of relationship investment and expertise, nonprofits launched community-based networks to serve the diverse and specific needs of their neighbors.
  • Healthcare providers adapted technology and resources to bring care and support to Native and rural communities.
  • Leaders brought their years of experience and research to help individuals and organizations navigate the uncharted waters of life in a pandemic.
  • Community foundations organized and deployed resources to serve the needs of their region.

We often say that the “promise of the nonprofit sector” is the ability to change lives. In 2020, we saw this spirit brought to life over and over and over again. And while we have reason for hope as we turn to 2021—as vaccines and improved treatments may finally help us defeat COVID-19, as we see elected leaders seeking to sow collaboration instead of division, as we have hope that historical wrongs may finally be addressed—we can already see that promise being fulfilled.

In fact, our staff and our board recently received a preview of some of the good that is to come when we reviewed our most recent round of grant applications at our Fall Grants meeting. We are so pleased to share that our Trustees approved 70 grants totaling more than $20 million to organizations serving Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington. (A selection of these grants can be found below. A full list can be downloaded here).

We are also humbled to share that with this round of grants, the Trust was able to distribute nearly $76 million in total to nonprofits in 2020, marking a record year of investment for our organization. As excited as we are for this milestone, it is a reminder to us of the impact of those we serve. The only reason we celebrate this milestone is because so many individuals work tirelessly at organizations with the purpose of serving the common good. This is merely a reflection of the amazing work that has been done and the inspiring work that is yet to come.

On behalf of the Murdock Trust staff, I thank you for all that you do to serve the common good and to help individuals, families and communities flourish and thrive. May the new year bring you joy, health and light!

– Steve Moore, Executive Director, M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust


  • A new early learning program by the Armed Services YMCA will support military families serving in Alaska.
  • New equipment purchased by the Food Bank of Alaska will support an expanded distribution center serving the needs of individuals and families who are food insecure.



  • Grizzly bears and other wildlife will gain safe, natural habitat as Vital Ground Foundation acquires a new section of conservation land.
  • New staff at YWCA of Missoula will serve and support families experiencing homelessness.
  • New staff will help secure ZooMontana’s longevity and ensure the nonprofit can continue to serve the community for generations to come.
  • Nonprofits seeking to preserve and celebrate the history of Montana will gain fresh support as the Montana History Foundation adds news staff.
  • The Billings Symphony will renovate and open a brand new, permanent home.


  • New staff at Hacienda CDC will provide support to individuals and families in need of affordable housing.
  • More children dealing with critical illnesses will be served by Make A Wish of Oregon as the nonprofit expands its staff.
  • New staff at Options for Homeless Residents of Ashland will help the nonprofit expand the way it provides its array of services to individuals and families in need.
  • The Oregon Zoo will introduce a new exhibit supporting the research and conservation of polar bears.
  • Underrepresented students in Southern Oregon will receive increased support as Rogue Valley Mentoring adds staff.
  • Researchers at the University of Oregon will see increased capacity for sequencing projects, such as single cell genomics studies, following the purchase of a High Throughput Nucleic Acid Sequencer.
  • New staff at World Forestry Center will curate the nonprofit’s public experiences to help shape a sustainable future for our forests.
  • The Josephy Center for Arts and Culture will be able to purchase its facility, ensuring access to arts and culture programing to the Joseph community for generations.


  • Students at Gonzaga University will have access to a new, state-of-the-art STEM space following the construction of a new facility.
  • New staff with Office Moms and Dads will serve vulnerable children who are entering the foster care system.
  • Infrastructure improvements at Outdoors for All will significantly increase accessibility to recreational activities for individuals with disabilities.
  • New staff at Splash International will help the organization rapidly expand the reach of its life-giving services.
  • Summit Assistance Dogs will have the capacity to train more mobility assistance dogs with the construction of a new campus.
  • Refugees resettling in the Pacific Northwest will receive increased support thanks to new staff joining the team at World Relief Spokane.


A woman with brown hair wearing a red shirt stands up in a room where other women are seated.
  • Participants in the 4Word Mentor Program will enjoy a more efficient, robust experience following digital technology improvements.

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The Trust guides nonprofit organizations through every level of their development through grants and other resources.

The Trust has a wealth of knowledge and experience that can make all the difference to you and your organization.