Disaster Relief

By Pam Walker
The McMurry Foundation

"We have always believed in the power of one, but the power of many is truly unbelievable!”

After Hurricane Katrina hit, the McMurry Foundation in Casper, Wyoming, was contacted by many individuals wanting to help. The foundation and local United Way decided to convene a town meeting to coordinate and channel interest, and more than 30 people gathered representing nonprofit organizations, churches, government agencies, and the media.

The meeting resulted in an effort to raise money and help local residents assist relatives in hurricane-affected areas. Newspaper and television media publicized the campaign state-wide. The McMurry Foundation provided $25,000 for local efforts and $250,000 in matching dollars for Wyoming residents who gave to the American Red Cross through the Wyoming Gives campaign. The initial donations and matches helped inspire other organizations to pledge matches, including a matching grant of $100,000 from another Exponent Philanthropy member, the Martin Family Foundation. More than $1 million was soon raised in Wyoming.

The McMurry Foundation spent about 10 hours of board and staff time helping to organize the town meeting that sparked the campaign. This was the foundation’s first time gathering residents around an issue, and they would consider doing it again.