M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust

“We make a living by what we get.

We make a life by what we give.”

– Winston Churchill

Image 1: Two people look at something on a desk in a lab with another person in the background. Image 2: A group of nurses smile for the camera outside a building. Image 3: A man and a woman standing up in the middle of a seated audience. Image 4: A woman gets her eyes checked through a machine by a man. Image 5: three children look through a picture frame. Image 6: A woman stands outside while a camera films her.

Earlier this year, we received some inspiring news. Even though there was great concern regarding the performance of our economy due to the COVID-19 pandemic, charitable contributions increased by a substantial margin in 2020 according to Giving USA. This speaks to the generous spirit of individuals, families, and communities throughout the Pacific Northwest and broader United States. In times of great challenge, Americans rally to serve those in need.
However, in addition to providing a valuable reminder of the generosity of Americans, this data also shows an important trend that is not always apparent. Giving by individuals accounted for nearly 70% of all charitable donations last year (nearly 80% if you also include what people give through their estates). While these figures may fluctuate some year-to-year, they represent a trend we have observed for a long time. Individuals and families find a way, even in the most challenging of times, to dig down deep and give.

Sometimes people think that “Philanthropy” is the work of foundations or corporations, but in reality, it is so much more. Philanthropy is for everyone.

  • When a neighborhood group sews masks for medical volunteers, that’s philanthropy.
  • When an individual makes a financial donation to their favorite charity, that’s philanthropy.
  • When a family donates or organizes for their local food bank, that’s philanthropy.
  • When a church family opens its doors to families displaced by historic wildfires or who have become refugees, and a faith community helps them get back on their feet, that’s philanthropy.
  • When a business sponsors a youth sports team or gives its employees time off to volunteer with local nonprofits, that’s philanthropy.

As much as some would like to suggest that giving is only the responsibility of a select few, that is simply not the case. Every year, our organization has the fortunate opportunity to see the positive impact that comes when organizations receive diverse support from a broad constituency of donors.

Our most recent board meeting was no exception, as our program directors and trustees discussed dozens of nonprofits that are finding innovative and sustainable ways to serve the common good thanks to an ecosystem of support from a diverse array of contributors. Our trustees were grateful for the opportunity to bring our support to their efforts, approving 62 grants totaling more than $18.6 million to nonprofits serving the Pacific Northwest. We’ve gathered a handful of examples of these projects below, and you can find a full list of our most recent grantees here.

We are grateful to play a small role in supporting the mission and work of nonprofits of all sizes, but a thriving community takes investment from all of us. As we enter another season of thanksgiving and generosity, we encourage everyone to give creatively. Give generously. Give often. And for that generosity, we give thanks! Or as G.K. Chesterton once observed, “Gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.”


Image 1: a man helps a child with something on a piece of paper while another child uses a computer in the background. Image 2: a woman receives an x-ray of her hand by a medical professional.


Image 1: a woman talks to a child through a plexiglass divider. Image 2: A man in a white coat with a woman whose head is hooked up to a machine.


Image 1: bikers and walkers on a tree-lined path. Image 2: a black-and-white photo of four people outdoors. Image 3: a young boy sitting at the base of a tree.


Image 1: A woman hands a plate of food to a man over a counter. Image 2: A crowd of people stand outside with tents in the background. Image 3: a man wearing protective goggles performs a scientific procedure. Image 4: a group of students wearing masks doing homework on a picnic table outside. Image 5:  a family with nine children smile for the camera while standing outside.


Image 1: a woman smiles for the camera while holding a hand-sewn item. Image 2: A group of children playing instruments. Image 3: A child wearing a life vest sitting inside a boat. Image 4: A piece of Photonic Sensing Equipment. Image 5: Three students read a book together with bookshelves behind them. Image 6: A man and a woman look at a piece of paper together. Image 7: A young child wearing a helmet sitting on a horse, with two adults assisting.

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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.