M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust

Board Leadership & Development Program

Equipping nonprofit boards to sustain and grow their mission

Board Leadership & Development

The Murdock Trust Board Leadership and Development Program equips nonprofit organizations to fulfill their unique missions by building board capacity.

Strong institutions are led by strong boards. This training program provides concrete, practical, and proven tools to equip CEO’s, board chairs, and board members to address the most strategic issues, challenges, and opportunities of board leadership.

This unique training experience has been researched and developed by a team of experienced coaches and faculty assembled by the Murdock Trust.

Helping You Build Capacity and Sustainability

  • Learn the four pillars of a high performing board including governance, culture, sustainability, and strategic planning.
  • Clarify the board’s role and the CEO’s role—eliminate fuzzy responsibilities and create positive synergy
  • Maximize the most critical relationship: the board chair and the CEO
  • Become a board increasingly characterized by discernment and wisdom
  • Leverage the four phases of board development: cultivation, recruitment, orientation, and engagement
  • Establish dashboard metrics to monitor the health of an organization
  • Identify the strategic next steps and benchmarks needed to create a sustainable future
  • Align your mission, vision, and values with measurable results and goals
  • Think carefully about the organizational future including succession planning and transitions
  • Set the engagement bar high and foster a culture of continuous learning

Program Basics

Over the course of six months, the Board Leadership and Development Program will equip you to fulfill the unique mission of your nonprofit organization.

Organizations will receive four days of training over two sessions scheduled in May and June, as well as approximately 16 hours of customized coaching (includes coach preparation time). Often this coaching allotment is broken up into calls between the coach and the organization before session 1, between session 1 and 2, and following session 2, with a visit by the coach to the organization this spring/summer. Most often the coach can spend a day with the organization, allowing for travel and prep time. The Trust will cover all transportation fees of the coach to the organization for one trip.

Your assigned coach will suggest how you might allocate your 16 hours of customized coaching over the program’s four phases:

  • Phase 1: Baseline survey and coaching connection (prior to Session one)
  • Phase 2: Session one via Zoom | May 1-2, 2023 | 9:00am-3:00pm PT each day
  • Phase 3: Session two in-person | June 5-6, 2023 | Day 1: 10:00am-8:00pm Day 2: 8:00am-2:30pm
  • Phase 4: Completion of Strategic Next Steps and coach site visit

Participation Fee and Requirements

To participate, your organization must commit to the following:

A minimum of three and a maximum of four participants must attend each session. The executive director/CEO and the board chair/future board chair, as well as one other board member must participate.

  1. Participants must attend both sessions and be available for sessions with your coach on mutually agreed-upon dates
  2. Participants must complete all readings and assignments before, during, and after the sessions
  3. Participants will be expected to complete three assessments related to the program: the first will be conducted prior to the first session in May, the second will be completed immediately after the second session in June, and the third will be completed on year later (May)
  4. A program fee of $1,500 per organization is due upon registration which covers all session materials, two training sessions, and customized coaching


Organizations need to complete an application of interest to be considered for the upcoming cohort.

  • Applications will be made available in mid-June. To receive an application, please contact us at boardleadership@murdocktrust.org.
  • Applications are due by July 15, 2023.
  • Decisions about acceptance into the next cohort are made in early October 2023.
  • Please note:
    • Organizations from the Pacific Northwest region (OR, WA, AK, MT, ID) or national groups with a strong regional presence in our area are invited to apply. Although the board training program is not connected to our grant process, grantees working in the five sectors we serve (arts and culture, education, health, human services, and scientific research) will be given preference in consideration for this program.
    • Organizations that are accepted into the program and that tend to benefit most from the training are often those with annual budgets of over $300K and more than one FTE. In recent years, the average budget size of organizations in the cohort has ranged from $600,000-$3,000,000.

Questions? Contact us at boardleadership@murdocktrust.org or 360-906-6077.

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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.