Murdock Trust Completes Center for Effective Philanthropy Comprehensive Assessment of Work; Receives Top Marks

VANCOUVER, Wash.--()--The M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust recently completed a Grantee and Applicant Perception Report, administered by the Center for Effective Philanthropy (CEP), receiving outstanding feedback regarding its funding process from nonprofit participants.

Conducted to monitor performance by the country’s leading foundations, this scientific survey engages applicants and grantees on a host of topics regarding their experience working with a foundation. The Murdock Trust invited nonprofits to give feedback – from communications to various stages of the grant application process to accessibility and attitude. This provides hard data the Murdock Trust uses to benchmark performance over a curve of several years. In addition, the CEP conducts similar surveys for many foundations across the country and provides data that shows how the Murdock Trust compares with a cohort of peers.

Detail regarding key findings of this survey is available below, but the Vancouver, Washington-based foundation was pleased to see that organizations feel communication between the Murdock Trust and grantees/applicants is strong and the organization has a positive impact overall on the areas it funds: arts and culture, health and human services, education and scientific research.

“We are pleased to know that our team is among the top in our field and these results will aid in our work to improve our efforts to more effectively and efficiently serve and support nonprofits across the Pacific Northwest,” said Steve Moore, Executive Director, The Murdock Trust. “We believe we must constantly review our efforts and results as an organization in order to continually improve. As we move into 2018, the Murdock Trust staff are already using this data to identify ways we can provide more efficient and impactful support for the nonprofits we serve.”

Key Findings: What’s Working

  • Grantees felt very satisfied with their overall experience working with the Murdock Trust. Most grantees share that the credibility of the Trust was an asset to them as they pursued additional funding and support from other sources, and they feel that the Trust has a significant, positive impact on their organization’s effectiveness, ranking in the top 3 percent among cohort foundations in this category. For example, survey participants shared …
    • “Murdock is invested in the success of our organization, beyond just financially. […] The humility and focus of their staff toward seeking our better good has caused us to be stronger both in practice and policy. We always feel respected and are encouraged to move forward and do well.”
    • “[The Murdock Trust’s] funding process is extremely thorough. In large campaigns, I usually work the [Trust] grant first and use this as a model to complete proposals for other foundations.”
    • “Every interaction has provided valuable insight on how to improve our organization. While the funding has been an obvious blessing and help to our organization and our mission, the counsel and guidance has helped us get stronger for years to come.”
  • The Murdock Trust does not take a transactional approach to grantmaking. Staff invest in establishing long-term relationships with applicants and grantees in order to be a valued resource beyond a single application or grant. This effort is resonating, as grantees rank the Trust at the top of the identified peer cohort when it comes to measuring the quality of interactions and clarity/consistency of communications. Similarly, grantees and applicants say the Trust is one of the most approachable and accessible foundations within the peer group.
  • The Murdock Trust values in-person engagement onsite with prospective grantees. This approach provides a unique opportunity to better understand the impact of a proposal firsthand. All Trust grantees receive an in-person site visit from one of our program officers. In comparison, less than 50 percent of grantees received a site visit from peer foundations.

Key Findings: Where the Trust Can Improve

  • The Murdock Trust must continue tracking with the changing landscape nonprofits face. While Trust staff work diligently to understand the full scope of issues facing applicants and grantees, there is always room for improvement. Staff will continue to work with stakeholders to educate the Trust team, nonprofit and foundation leaders and civic leaders regarding the social, cultural and socioeconomic challenges that affect the work of the nonprofits served and their communities.
  • The grant process does not stop at the award. Like all foundations, the Trust is eager to see how projects progress over time. Grantees share that the Trust’s reporting process is quite straightforward and adaptable. Staff will use this feedback to learn from others to identify strategies and continue improving in this area.
  • Continue to refine the vetting process. The Letter of Inquiry process is designed to help ensure that a proposal and the Trust are a good fit before proceeding to the more rigorous application phase. Applicants shared that there were a few instances where an organization learned later in the process where their request did not align with funding priorities. While these are rare, staff will continue to refine the review process and provide early guidance to applicants to set clear expectations up front.

The entire Murdock Trust staff is grateful to the grantees and applicants who took the time to complete this survey and provide this valuable feedback.

“Our process is not perfect,” added Moore. “While we are always seeking to grow and improve, we are pleased to see that feedback on our efforts is very positive and our work is meeting the vision Jack Murdock gave to ‘nurture and enrich the educational, social, spiritual and cultural lives of individuals, families and communities.’”

About the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust

The M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust, created by the will of the late Melvin J. (Jack) Murdock, provides grants to organizations in five states of the Pacific Northwest—Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington—that seek to strengthen the region’s educational and cultural base in creative and sustainable ways. For more information, find the Murdock Trust on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and the web.


M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust
Colby Reade, APR, 360-694-8415
Director of Communications

Release Summary

The M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust completes CEP Grantee and Applicant Perception Report, receiving outstanding feedback from nonprofit participants.


M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust
Colby Reade, APR, 360-694-8415
Director of Communications