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Funding Priorities

Since 1975 the Trust has invested nearly $800 million into nonprofit organizations in the form of grants and enrichment programs. Jack Murdock’s desire to “nurture and enrich the educational, spiritual, cultural, and social lives of individuals, families, and communities" continues to be reflected in grants, enrichment programs, and all of the Trust’s activities to this day.

Mr. Murdock was an avid learner, innovator, and entrepreneur. His informal education was continuous and lifelong. The special importance he placed on education has been the beacon leading Trust support of many colleges and universities in the five states of Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington.

Organizations involved in advancing culture and the arts are welcomed each year, as are projects targeted to elevating human services, health, and health care in the region. These include community-based and faith-based organizations, particularly those that serve youth. From a founder who was thoroughly unpretentious, the Trust has taken his lead to welcome the best ideas from all across the region’s urban and rural areas.

The Trust’s founder believed in science and technology as one of the most important sources of knowledge and inventiveness, knowledge that he believed to be strategic to resolving many issues. As a result, the Trust has long been at the forefront of private support for scientific research and innovation. In recent years, this has realized more than 60 scientific research grants annually.

Mr. Murdock was vitally interested in community issues and encouraged the convening and collaboration of diverse leaders to focus on questions of importance. The Trust continues to bring many voices together to examine and explore ideas and trends in various fields and sectors. Several of our enrichment programs in leadership development, scientific education, and organizational capacity building have come from such gatherings.

Grant Guidelines

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

Requests are considered from organizations that fit with current Trust interest and have been ruled to be tax-exempt under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code and are not private foundations as defined in Section 509(a)/170(b) of the Code. Charitable organizations applying for support must have in hand the most current IRS documentation reflecting their status or qualification as a tax-exempt entity.

Grant award size varies depending upon organization and project; however, past practices inform future decisions.  Because the Trust's application and evaluation process is rigorous, thorough, and time intensive, requests for less than $50,000 are generally discouraged. 

While the Trust supports a wide variety of projects and programs in the region, there are limitations to what the Trust will fund. The best indicator of current Trust interest is generally reflected in a review of past grants (visit Grants Awarded on the Trust’s website for a recent listing).

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.
  • For propagandizing or for influencing legislation and elections.
  • From specific individuals and for their personal benefit.
  • From individuals unauthorized to act on behalf of a qualified tax-exempt organization.

The following kinds of requests are RARELY considered:

  • For normal ongoing operations, including existing staff, or for the continuation of existing projects.
  • For 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.