Monday, December 14, 2009

Remembering Milton

Wednesday, December 9, was a very—very—sad day as Milton Murray passed away in Loma Linda, California.

Putting into words what Milton Murray has meant to the fundraising profession and to AFP is a difficult task under any circumstances, so let me just list a few things about Milton:

• He is the only fundraiser ever to have received all of these three honors: the AFP Outstanding Fundraising Professional Award (in 1991), the AHP Si Seymour Award (in 1980) and the Henry A. Rosso Award from the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University (in 1992).

• He spent 27 years leading the campaign to have the United States Postal Service issue a stamp in honor of philanthropy (which it finally did in 1998).

• His life and career are the subject of a 1992 book, The Makings of a Philanthropic Fund Raiser: the Instructive Example of Milton Murray, by Ronald Alan Knott.

Those kinds of accolades and accomplishments are the mark of a very special person with a very special spirit, and Milton Murray was one of a kind. A devout Seventh-Day Adventist, Milton served for more than two decades as the director of Philanthropic Services for Institutions (PSI) at the Seventh-day Adventist world headquarters in Washington, D.C. It was with PSI that he helped nurture philanthropic endeavors among more than 100 Adventist institutions internationally.

In fact, it was his work with hospitals, universities and secondary schools in the 1950s and 60s that helped found the profession of fundraising. His work in cultivating alumni and using tools such as feasibility studies were groundbreaking, concepts that few charities had any notion of back then. His efforts extended to Mexico, helping numerous institutions there, and he was pivotal in the growth of AFP into Mexico and all of Latin America.

And even those incredible achievements don’t truly tell you what sort of person Milton was. Milton knew everyone! And everyone wanted to know Milton. He just had that kind of personality and magnetism. He was sincere, unflappable and most of all, determined. He would never give up—as the United States Postal Service found out over the years. I can say confidently that the philanthropy stamp would NEVER have occurred without Milton Murray.

Most of all, he was a great friend. I will miss him greatly, and I know fundraisers the world over will miss him too. He was a mentor to so many of us, and his words of wisdom and grace will not be forgotten.

I’m currently in California now with Milton’s wife, Jeanne, who was such a bright part of Milton’s life and gave him so much contentment and joy. We are presently making plans for a memorial service that is slated to take place on the evening of January 2, 2010, at 6:00 p.m. in the University Church of Seventh-day Adventists in Loma Linda, the church he attended for much of his life.

In lieu of flowers, a contribution to one of two special organizations Milton was fond of and contributed to would be a most appropriate gesture instead:

• Milton Murray Foundation for Philanthropy; PO Box 521; College Place, WA 99324

• La Sierra University; Office of University Advancement; 4500 Riverwalk Parkway; Riverside, CA 92515 (for the Center for Philanthropy)

Words like “giant” or “pioneer” or “traiIblazer” just simply don’t do justice to the legacy of Milton Murray. I will remember him fondly, and I know all of you will too.