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 executive directors, board chairs, and board members to address the most strategic issues, challenges, and opportunities of board leadership.

Since 2014, this program has engaged | 15 cohorts | 189 organizations | 843 participants

Resources & Dates

Program Basics

This unique training was researched and developed by a team of experienced coaches and faculty assembled by the Murdock Trust. Within six months, the program will better equip you to fulfill the unique mission of your nonprofit organization. Through in-person and virtual training as well as 1-1 coaching, participating organizations will learn the four pillars of a high performing board, clarify the board’s role and executive director’s role, identify top action steps needed to create a sustainable future, and more.

Additional learning outcomes include:

  • Maximizing the most critical relationship: the board chair and the executive director
  • Leveraging the four phases of board development: cultivation, recruitment, orientation, and engagement
  • Establishing dashboard metrics to monitor the health of an organization
  • Aligning your mission, vision, and values with measurable results and goals
  • Thinking carefully about the organizational future including succession planning and transitions
  • Setting the engagement bar high and fostering a culture of continuous learning

What to Expect

A group of individuals at the Murdock Trust Board Leadership conference have a conversation

Organizations will receive four days of training over two sessions scheduled in February and March, as well as approximately two days of customized coaching (includes coach preparation time). Typically, this coaching allotment is broken up into calls between the coach and the organization before Session 1, between Sessions 1 and 2, and following Session 2, with options for virtual or in-person coaching. The Trust will cover all transportation fees of the coach to the organization for one trip. 

  • Prior to Session 1: Registration, pre-program survey, and coaching connection 
  • Session 1 (via Zoom): February 19-20, 2025 | 9:00am-3:00pm PT each day 
  • Session 2 (in-person, Vancouver WA): March 17-18, 2025 | Day 1: 10:00am-8:00pm PT; Day 2: 8:00am-3:00pm PT
  • After Session 2: Completion of Top 5 Action Steps and virtual or in-person coaching 

Participation Fee and Requirements

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

To participate, your organization must commit to the following:

  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 February, the second will be completed immediately after the second session in March, and the third will be completed one year later (Summer 2026) 
  4. A program fee of $1,500 per organization is due upon registration which covers all session materials, two training sessions, and customized coaching

How to Apply

The application link for the 2025 program cohort will be available starting June 3rd, 2024.  


Before submitting an application, please carefully review the following eligibility criteria:  

  • 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, Culture, & Education, Civic Engagement & Community Services, Health & Environmental Stewardship, Nonprofit Leadership & Development, 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 $300,000 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

Application Process

  • If your organization meets these eligibility criteria, we invite you to submit an application (Applications open June 3rd)   
  • Completed applications are due on or before Monday, July 15, 2024
  • After the application window closes, submitted applications will be reviewed. Select applicants will be invited to interview in late July and August
  • Cohort decisions will be made and communicated no later than October 1, 2024

If you have any questions about the program or the application process, please contact Hannah Pick (hannahp@murdocktrust.org), Program Manager. 

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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.