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Remembering Milton Murray, Adventist Giving Pioneer

I’ve enjoyed being a nobody,” Milton Murray once said. “I have never been a Vice President. I’m a creator of VPs.

Pioneering Adventist fundraiser Milton Murray passed away on Dec 9, at age 87. In its obituary, The NonProfit Times writes that, “In 1973 Murray founded the Seventh-day Adventist Church Philanthropic Service for Institutions (PSI). For nearly 20 years he served as director of PSI, which provides philanthropic education and resources to enhance development programs to members within the church and its related colleges, universities, healthcare systems and other members.”

Adventist News Network notes:

He was one of the monumental leaders in the field of philanthropy nationwide, and one that all of us in that profession respected greatly,” said Jim Erickson, director of the Center for Philanthropy at La Sierra University. Erickson recently named a series of nonprofit seminars after Murray

On her blog, Paulette Maehara, President and CEO of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, adds, “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).

In 2004, La Sierra University gave Murray an honorary doctorate in humanitarian service. In his speech, he said, “This is a great honor. A great event in a persons life that he obviously did not anticipate, plan for, or expect,” says Murray. “You realize that you apparently have done something that got the attention of the system.”

“The real value of receiving an honorary doctorate is reduced to helping academicians and educational institutions sit up and take notice that philanthropy has a very important role in education,” adds Murray.

“My claim to fame is that I am a nobody,” says Murray. “Being a nobody was how I got things done. I would whisper suggestions and write memos urging the right people.”

“During his professional career, Murray personally directed programs that raised some $68 million. And thanks to his guidance and leadership, Adventist institutions were raising about $50 million in annual voluntary support at the time of his retirement. In addition, after 27 years of philatelic advocacy from Murry, the United States Postal Service created the “Giving & Sharing” postage stamp in 1998.

In his book, Born to Raise: What Makes a Great Fundraiser; What Makes a Fundraiser Great, Jerold Panas writes of Milton Murray:

With the force of a speeding train, he directs, coordinates, cajoles, and provides a great deal of love to several hundred Adventist universities and schools, hospitals, and medical centers. He has the magnificent countenance of a swan—to the view of all, majestic and calm. But below the surface, paddling like crazy!

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