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Philanthropy summit aims to inspire givers to innovate, collaborate

As some of Nevada’s leading philanthropy experts, Julie Murray and her team at Moonridge Group spent much of 2020 on the phone.

Murray, chief executive officer of the philanthropy consultant firm and president of its affiliated foundation, connected donors to nonprofits and experts on the major needs throughout the early months of the coronavirus pandemic. The goal was for funders to hear exactly where their money could help, and encourage collaboration along the way.

That work led to this year’s Moonridge Foundation Philanthropy Leaders Summit theme: “United in Resiliency.” The 10th annual summit will be hosted virtually from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. on Sept. 17.

Murray began Moonridge Group in 2011 after her experience forming Three Square Food Bank showed her the power of collaborating funders, she said. The annual summit is one way to show corporate donors, family foundations and large-scale philanthropists different ways to get involved.

“I wanted to build on that feeling of how important it was when funders connected, shared best practices and trends, and together affected great change,” Murray said. “The first (summit) came about after the Great Recession, those years where unemployment was crazy high. It’s a similar feeling this year, too.”

Speakers range from educators in philanthropy to a member of the Obama Foundation Leadership Team and two Bishop Gorman High School students who advocate for teen mental health through the Hope Means Nevada teen committee. Discussion topics include social justice movements, climate emergencies, mental health and more.

“This year, we couldn’t select a keynote because every one of the speakers was of a keynote caliber,” Murray said. “It’s the first ever (we have) not had a keynote because the level of credibility, expertise and data knowledge is so strong in all of them.”

Virtual conferencing allowed the summit to expand its speakers, discussions and reach, Murray said. Previous summits have been held in both Las Vegas and Reno.

Organizers hope the diversity in speakers and attendees can highlight the different collaborative and innovative ways to direct donations and other giving, Murray said. For instance, a family foundation may be concerned about how climate change will affect their descendants but could be unaware of how to get involved.

“In environment, there are large federal grants that can be sought to look at things long term,” she said. “But oftentimes with the environment, there are quick things that are rising, where philanthropy and the flexibility of funders to address environmental philanthropy needs (could help), the turnaround is so vital.”

Tickets for the virtual event are available online.

McKenna Ross is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms. Contact her at mross@reviewjournal.com. Follow @mckenna_ross_ on Twitter.

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