M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust

2023 marks the 30th year of our Essentials of Development program. The Murdock Trust is committed to the holistic wellbeing of nonprofits in the Pacific Northwest, from successful governance to thoughtful succession planning to intentional development. For nearly two-thirds of the Murdock Trust’s 48-year legacy, the Essentials of Development program has been a regular way we connect with emergent nonprofits in need of development support, learning the needs of organizations as we provide training and build community together.

A woman with short curly dark hair speaks at a conference while sitting at a table, surrounded by other conference participants

Designed to target small to mid-size organizations that are underachieving in their contributed income model, this program helps nonprofits develop a sustainable and comprehensive development plan. Though the ultimate aim is to improve their fundraising efforts, we have learned through many years of working with nonprofits that this must be a holistic process. When an organization’s mission is clear and their story is compellingly told, the dollars often follow. All it takes is a few strategic steps to target the right audience, as well as a commitment to progress from a transactional approach to a transformational approach to development. In fact, participants have shared that this training helped them see fundraising not as “asking for money,” but as “telling our story.”

Recently, the 2023 cohort met for its first session in Vancouver, WA. With our six faculty coaches, the Trust was grateful to host 73 executive directors, board members, and development directors from 20 organizations. Arts organizations from Montana, children’s camps from British Columbia, healthcare nonprofits from Seattle, horse therapy groups from Oregon, and many others gathered for presentations, workshops, discussions, and meals.

A group of conference participants at the 2023 Essentials of Development conference.

“There are a lot more people who love what we’re doing than we realized,” said one participant, reflecting on the ways this training made them consider their potential donor base. “That was encouraging to realize.”

Another gave the analogy that though their organization had all four wheels on the car and had a driver, they weren’t all moving in the same direction. The chance to sit down with top leadership and make a plan “gives us the push to travel in the same direction and get the car rolling.”

And as one participant reflected after the training was complete, “This will change everything for our nonprofit.”

The Trust is deeply grateful for all the organizations who made this a time of rich and rewarding training. It is organizations like yours that make 30 years of Essentials of Development something to celebrate!

Learn more about Essentials of Development and our other Enrichment programs for nonprofits here. Access a free library of resources for nonprofit development and fundraising here.

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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.