Julie Murray is a principal and CEO of the Moonridge Group, a consultancy that helps guide philanthropists and nonprofits.
Her list of philanthropic endeavors includes:
▶ In 1995, she was a co-founder of the Las Vegas “I Have a Dream” Foundation.
▶ She led a campaign that raised $36 million for Agassi Preparatory Academy.
▶ And, in 2006, she founded Three Square Food Bank out of her home.
She explained that her mantra is “deliver with excellence every time.”
It’s a good lesson as national Volunteer Month comes to a close and one she teaches to students in her graduate-level class in philanthropy at UNLV.
On May 1, Murray will be recognized by the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation at its 2015 Hope Gala at Mandalay Bay.
Murray caught the attention of JDRF with One Night for One Drop, an event focused on local and global water efforts.
She says “I’m so humbled and honored that JDRF said, ‘Because of your community building work that you do, we’d love to highlight you.’ ”
Q. How did you get your start in philanthropy? What drew you to service?
It started in high school with the requirement to do community service as part of my high school curriculum at Bishop Gorman High School. Once I volunteered and helped raise funds for local causes, my heart was sparked. I learned first-hand the work we all can do when we engage in volunteerism and philanthropy.
Ever since my first time volunteering, I felt that was something I should be doing in my life. As I’ve gone through my life, in everything I’ve done, I’ve felt a call to be doing that, whether it was the at-risk youth at the Agassi Foundation, the at-risk youth at the I Have A Dream Foundation or the work we’re doing today with a variety of local and global nonprofits, I feel a strong desire to impact lives.
Q. How and why did you found Three Square out of your home?
A. It actually was Eric Hilton, the sparkly-blue-eyed youngest son of Conrad Hilton. He had a dream and a vision to end hunger. We met one day and became friends the instant we met. It was his funding through the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation and his vision that no child should go to bed hungry. He recruited me to help with this endeavor.
Even though it started in my living room, and I’m the founding CEO, it was such a team effort with MGM Resorts and community leaders and Mr. Hilton. So many people jumped in and supported the vision. That certainly was one of the most meaningful experiences in my life.
Q. Three Square is now considered a national model. What is it about Three Square that makes it such a successful model?
A. I felt very lucky when I was working with the Agassi Foundation on Agassi Prep and Three Square, and other projects, and I Have A Dream; each of them are considered national models. Each of them has people that fly from around the country to come in and look at them.
It’s interesting because it’s not rocket science; it’s just that in everything that’s said and done, delivering with excellence every time, every time in anything that is committed to a child, a donor, a community leader, a parent. It doesn’t matter who it is, but your word is your bond and you strive for excellence, and you don’t stop until you get it
Q. Why did you feel the need to open the Moonridge Group?
A. I wanted to do this for many years. I took what I learned … which is working with philanthropists on their vision for their charitable giving and working with rock solid nonprofits and bringing them together for the highest social impact. It’s taking a philanthropist’s vision and bringing it to life strategically, effectively, and partnering that vision and those funds with high preforming nonprofits.
Q. What is the mission/purpose of the Moonridge Group?
A. We have our business mission which is to align philanthropists with strategic nonprofit partners; that’s the business mission. We do team-building events once a quarter to just connect and discuss, and in that I ask them about why they do what they do because the workload is really heavy, and in each one is the desire to do good, to help people, to leave the world a better place.
It’s having a business, and the business is about doing good and being effective It’s a for-profit, so we’ll engage about 60 percent of our foundations and funders and corporate funders and youth groups … so about 60 percent of our work is guiding funders on how to receive the most successful return on investment of their charitable dollars, their charitable time or their in-kind services.
Q. What services does Moonridge Group provide to its clients?
A. It’s strategic planning, it’s doing the research on grants … we’ll do the research, the strategy and the planning behind what it takes for successful charitable investments to be made.
Q. What is the Nevada Corporate Giving Council, and what is your role?
A. We convene two groups of funders. The first one we founded about three years ago is called the Greater Good Council, and it is a group of family foundations. Diana Bennete and Tom Thomas are the co-chairs of that group.
The Nevada Corporate Giving Council, that was founded by Michael Brown from Barrick Gold. He and Shelley Gitomer from MGM Resorts co-chair the Nevada Corporate Giving Council.
Moonridge Group does the same thing (for both). We convene them quarterly — we bring in trends, best practices in giving, how to get the most return on investment for your giving.
It’s important to leverage your gifts of money with volunteerism and in-kind to get the biggest return on investment.
Q. How are those foundations (Nevada Giving Council &Nevada Corporate Giving Council) connected with the Moonridge Group?
A. We are the ones that catalyze and organize both of them. We’re the organizing entity for both of those, and we helped found both of them. We launched them, and we keep them organized.
Q. What is it you feel is important for everyone to know about philanthropy?
A. I always believe: It doesn’t matter what age you are, there’s always something you can do.
If everybody would do just one thing, our community would be such a vibrant, healthy, wonderful place. It already is really good, but we have room for improvement.