Tocqueville Member Spotlight: Bob and Joan Murray

Bob and Joan Murray are long-standing United Way Tocqueville donors from Boston with a passion for ending homelessness. They are thoughtful and intentional in their philanthropic support of United Way and other non-profits and have worked hard on behalf of several community organizations. Their generous support strategically benefits our mission to end homelessness through United Way initiatives like Greater Boston Project Connect and the Community Investment Tax Credit (CITC) program, which funds affordable housing and many other unique programs in Community Development Corporations throughout the state of Massachusetts. 

Professionally, Bob is CEO of Taxbridge Financial Group Inc, with a long career as a financial advisor. Joan was a UCC (United Church of Christ) minister before retiring, and founded Chaplains on the Way in Waltham, a ministry that meets individuals experiencing homelessness wherever they are to offer spiritual care and hope. Bob has served as Campaign Chair of  Family Promise Metrowest, a network of 50 congregations and 3,000 trained volunteers that provide overnight housing and meals for families experiencing homelessness, as well as education opportunities, and support finding housing and furnishing homes. 

Bob is also an active advocate for United Way’s Community Investment Tax Credit program, sharing information about this unique 50% state tax credit with his clients and colleagues. 

We asked the Murrays to share their thoughts with us about their commitment to the community and specifically to United Way.

As long-standing donors to United Way, why have you chosen to give your support for so many years? 

We give to the United Way precisely because your mission is to help people in need.  Boston is blessed to have many wonderful cultural, educational and medical institutions, but the focus of United Way is our neighbors in need.  Those of us with more than we need, have an obligation to share.

Bob:  I have also been on the board of an agency that receives grants from the United Way (UW) and was impressed that UW volunteers interviewed the executive director and various board members and reviewed the operations and finances of the agency to verify that it was properly managed and adhered to its mission.

What are you seeing as the greatest needs in our community, and why do you care so deeply about housing and homelessness?

We do have a keen interest in the issue of homelessness for three reasons:

  1. There tends to be a vicious cycle.  A very high percentage of children who have experienced homelessness never graduate from high school, which will affect their income level and potentially lead them to experience homelessness as adults.  We want to help break that cycle and help to alleviate the great divide between rich and poor people in the US.
  2. If people have stable homes the costs of medical expenses and other social expenses are reduced, and
  3. With a relatively small amount of money for additional section 8 subsidies and similar programs, we could provide housing for everyone.

Joan: as a UCC (United Church of Christ) minister, a calling which came in my mid-late 40s, I served two homeless populations for about 12 years total before retiring.  One was at common cathedral, the outdoor church on Boston Common, and the other was Chaplains on the Way, also an on-going ministry, which I founded in Waltham. I have had the privilege to get to know many chronically homeless people well.  They have taught me much, including how complicated the situation of homelessness can be and how difficult it is to come out of it. I am convinced that with the political will and the sharing of resources, we could end homelessness in the US. 

Can you tell us about your advocacy of the Community Investment Tax Credit?

We certainly can give our endorsement to the Community Investment Tax Credit Program.  First of all, the Community Investment Corporations all do great work helping people in lower income communities.  Secondly, as a tax and investment guy, I like the way it leverages our gifts. We (and all who donate to this program) get 50% back as a credit on our Massachusetts tax return, and we get to deduct the other 50% as a charitable contribution on our federal tax return at up to a 37% tax rate.  That’s a total savings of up to 68 ½%. It’s a great partnership of the private sector and the state.

What does being a Tocqueville member mean to you both?

We are happy to be members of the Tocqueville Society.  We have enjoyed meeting fine people at the Tocqueville events.  More importantly, we are happy that the Tocqueville members provide a significant portion of the funding of United Way, which benefits so many helpful organizations.

Why is it important that we think about helping directly future generations — today?

Mike Durkin (CEO of United Way) has often used the phrase from the London Underground, “Mind the Gap.”  We are very conscious of the growing gap between the top 10% and the other 90% of the US population. Those of us with means need to do what we can to help reduce this gap, which will help strengthen our democracy. It is the right thing to do now and for the future.