A Day in the Life of a Philanthropist- Featuring Mary McMurtrey

Welcome to our new blog series.  Each month, the Gateway Center for Giving will highlight a Center member and give you some insight into his or her day-to-day life.  One of the goals of this series is to show that grantmakers do more than just sit behind a desk and write checks.  Center members are busy in the community- meeting with nonprofits, collaborating with other grantmakers, attending events, and networking within the community.  We kick off this series with “A Day in the Life” of the Gateway Center for Giving’s President Mary McMurtrey.

6:00 am                Good Morning!  I wake up and get my two girls out of bed; Lyla, 2 and Sophia, 9.  We brush hair, brush teeth, change clothes (half a dozen times per girl). I wipe peanut butter off my suit jacket and cat hair off my pants while making toast, and checking morning emails.

7:00 am                I torpedo the girls into my husband Michael’s car for him to shuttle them to school.  I grab a granola bar and out the door I run…….

7:10 am                My staff teases me because I get lost everywhere I go….this morning is no exception.  I call Lindsey Greenberg my Program Manager for directions – since mine are wrong and I’m lost.

7:20 am                Hallelujah!  I arrive at the Engineers Club on Lindell where I will serve as moderator for a panel featuring corporate, private, and family foundations and an individual donor who have been asked to talk about what they look for when investing in a nonprofit.  This opportunity is made possible by the Nonprofit Services Center and is designed to help board chairs understand the needs of their nonprofits from the donor’s perspective.  Three of the four panelists are members of the Gateway Center for Giving.  I would do anything for my members!

8:00 – 10:00 am        I present an overview of what philanthropy in the region looks like to set the stage for understanding how each type of funder fits into the St. Louis “giving pie”.   I realize that NSC doesn’t have my power point and so thank god for technology and I use my phone to access the presentation – the slides will be emailed to participants after the session.  Whew.

10:30 am              Network!!!!!  The nonprofit world really is quite small and it is always wonderful to catch up with people in the community and learn more about the work they are doing.

11:00 am– 12:00 pm     Arrive at the office – downtown St. Louis.  I log into my computer to check the 150+ emails that are waiting for me (many of them are articles that I will read later), listen to voice mail, log onto facebook to see whose birthday it is (especially Gateway Members and stakeholders), check gmail and yahoo accounts (mostly spam) and then go through the paperwork on my desk and sort by priority, deadline, importance, etc.

12:00 pm                     My stomach is growling!  I run to Bread Co for lunch – as I do several times a week using my “My Panera” card.  I get a’ you pick two’ with half a Mediterranean sandwich and cup of chicken orzo soup….in the summer I MUST get a frozen lemonade.

12:30 – 3:00 pm       While I sit at my desk eating lunch, I respond to many requests for information from members of the Center, nonprofits in the community and other stakeholders.  I schedule several meetings with existing members to talk about changes in their giving priorities and learn more about their needs as funders.  I refer inquiries to the right community person (like asking Chris Miller with The Mission Center to jump on a skype conference with a group of ngo’s in Siberia who are learning about social enterprise) and arrange to meet with a few nonprofits at the request of some of their funders who are also members of Gateway Center for Giving to talk about their fund development strategies.

Finally, I work with the staff on reviewing the Dollars and Sense Report on Capital Campaigns in the Region and a giving in the region report that the Center will undertake with UM-St. Louis next month.  I always think I have more time than I do…

3:00 pm                40 West to St. Mary’s Health Center off Clayton Road for an Executive Committee Meeting for the St. Mary’s Foundation Board.

3:30 – 5:00 pm          Have a great meeting with the hardworking and dedicated board and staff of St. Mary’s Foundation.  Go over the financials and review the terms of a nice bequest that has come into the foundation.  Review the final plans for the construction of the new lobby area that the foundation has helped make possible.

5:30-6:00 pm              Race to school for Meet the Teacher Night at Flynn Park.  Sit in a tiny hard plastic chair for 30 minutes and listen to the teacher talk about homework and behavioral expectations.

6:00 – 6:30 pm           Race home to get changed for a benefit concert at Powell Hall for the University City Children’s Center.

6:45 pm                Arrive at Powell with my husband Michael and look for our guests – David and Jing Stiffler.  David is a new friend and in charge of the giving program for TALX.  His wife Jing works for Innovate St. Louis (btw, I’m having morning coffee in a few days with the new director of Innovate Venture Mentoring Services; small world).

7:30 – 9:00 pm          Enjoy an intimate concert on stage at Powell with pianist, Ruth Price, the Arianna String Quarter, and  St. Louis Symphony cellist, Melissa Brooks.  I am so fortunate to have become friends with Ruth, John and Melissa because our children went to preschool together and are still friends today!

9:30 pm                        Cheese and Desert!  Then on to home because I’m turning into a pumpkin!

10:00 pm                     Go home, pay sitter, feed dog, and collapse!  A good day indeed.

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