Dan Murphy Foundation: Los Angeles Grants

OVERVIEW: This funder makes grants almost exclusively to organizations affiliated with the Catholic religion. The foundation often makes around 100 grants each year, averaging in size from $2,000 to $2 million

IP TAKE: Grant seekers not running a Catholic organization will probably not receive funding from the Dan Murphy Foundation. Regional diocese and Catholic high schools consistently top the Murphy grant charts.

PROFILE: The Dan Murphy Foundation, which was incorporated in 1957, was founded by the late Bernadine Murphy Donohue in memory of her father, Dan Murphy, to support activities and charities of the Catholic Church. Lots of philanthropic foundations receive recognition from the press, but few are praised by the pope. Dan Murphy has granted so much money to the Roman Catholic Church through his foundation that the pope granted him the title of "Papal Countess" and "Gentleman of His Holiness," which is the highest award bestowed on any layman of the Church and the first time it has been given to an American.

The Archdiocese of Los Angeles and inner-city Catholic high schools receive preferential treatment, but some colleges, social service agencies, and religious orders have recently picked up grants from the foundation as well.

Most of the Dan Murphy Foundation's grants fund general operating support and program development. The foundation makes around 100 grants each year, with between $2,000 and $2 million. However, it made a $3.5 million grant to the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Los Angeles.

The foundation typically makes around $11 million in grants per year, and the foundation's assets have been around $214 million.

Although most of the foundation's grant money stays in the Los Angeles area, Murphy also has made grants nationally to support the Roman Catholic Diocese of Knoxville, Tennessee, and the Franciscan Missionary Sisters in Beaverton, Oregon. It has also supported organizations in Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, and New York. It will not support international causes, however.

Unlike many foundations in Los Angeles, this one is not all that well-rounded or multidimensional. The Dan Murphy Foundation was created for a purpose, and it has stayed true to that purpose since the beginning. Most philanthropists steer clear of religion because they do not want to polarize or alienate their supporters and applicants. Before it was closed in 2008, the Dan Murphy High School in Los Angeles received a steady flow of grant funds to support its Catholic programs. Originally named St. John Vianney High School, the school was renamed to acknowledge the significant monetary contributions from this businessman and civic leader.

Simply put, Dan Murphy probably will not help grant seekers who are not running a Catholic organization. Faith-based programs do not need to be particularly innovative or original to get noticed by the board of trustees either. Almost all of Dan Murphy Foundation grantees are Catholic schools or faith-based social service agencies that provide a traditional menu of services.

Although the foundation's trustees tend to initiate the grant process, they probably will not outright reject an unsolicited grant proposal. The board meets on a quarterly basis to discuss proposals, and grant seekers can contact Executive Director Debra Kay Duncan at 213-623-3120 with questions about what to send and when to send it.


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