M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust


We make grants that help improve the quality of life in the Pacific Northwest, and we partner with nonprofits that share our commitment to thinking innovatively, seeking solutions to problems and helping our communities flourish. Learn more about the Trust’s history and values on the About the Trust page.

Before applying for a grant, read the information below to see if you qualify to apply for a grant. You might also find it helpful to look through our past grants on our Grants Awarded page.

Funding Region

In most cases, grants are awarded for the benefit of the people living and contributing in Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington. Some, however, are made beyond this region to foster the growth of national and international ideas in the Pacific Northwest and beyond.

Tax Status

Requests from organizations that fit within Trust interest must be ruled to be tax-exempt under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Charitable organizations applying for support must possess the most current IRS documentation reflecting their status or qualification as a tax-exempt entity.

Requests are not accepted from private foundations or organizations defined in Section 509(a)(3).

Funding Priorities

The Trust focuses its funding in two main areas: Strategic Projects and Initiatives. Strategic Projects are the most common grants, with Trust support spanning capital, equipment & technology and program & staff projects. Awards made in these areas reflect the strategic priorities of an organization’s leadership, and funded projects usually come out of a strategic plan, annual strategic priorities or unplanned strategic opportunities. Initiatives are highly focused projects in scientific research, education and calling.

We presently award grants in the areas of arts and culture, education, health, human services and scientific research.

Strategic Projects Funding Guidelines

Capital Project Grants support construction, renovation, land purchase and other capital projects. In most cases, we prefer to receive requests for these types of projects once your organization has raised a portion of the needed funds.

Equipment & Technology Grants support maintaining healthy equipment and growing technology infrastructure. Please note that with these grants, recipient organizations are responsible for 50% or greater of the purchase cost.

Program & Staff Grants help fund both new programs and the expansion of existing programs and may be used to cover start-up costs and/or related staff member additions. Typically, we fund program and staff grants on a declining basis over three years (100/67/33%). Staff hires or programs initiated before Trustee action will not be eligible for funding.

Award Size

Dollar amounts vary by organization and project, with past practices generally informing future decisions. Because the grant application and evaluation process is rigorous and time-intensive, we generally discourage Strategic Project requests for less than $50,000.


While the Trust supports a wide variety of projects and programs in the region, there are limitations to what we will fund. Our past grants are a good indicator of current Trust interest.

Please note that the following kinds of requests are NOT considered:

  • For funds that will ultimately be passed through to other organizations
  • For sectarian or religious organizations whose principal activity is for the primary benefit of their own members or adherents
  • For long-term loans, debt retirement or operational deficits
  • For institutions that, in policy or practice, unfairly discriminate against race, ethnic origin, sex, creed or religion
  • Nonprofits whose work is primarily political or legislative advocacy or for influencing elections
  • From an individual for their personal benefit
  • From individuals unauthorized to act on behalf of a qualified tax-exempt organization
  • Event sponsorships and performance underwriting

And these kinds of requests are RARELY considered:

  • For normal ongoing operations, including existing staff, or for the continuation of existing projects
  • For the continuation of programs previously financed from other external sources
  • For organizations organized and operating outside any U.S. state or territory
  • For urgent needs, emergency funding or gap funding
  • For endowments or revolving funds that act as such
  • For funds to be distributed to beneficiaries of the organization’s choosing
  • Nonprofits who receive the majority of funding from government sources
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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.