Donor Advised Fund Helps Murphy-Harpst Fulfill Its Mission


By Diana Durie
North Georgia United Methodist Foundation

After her parents were incarcerated for cruelty to children, Janie and her three sisters were taken into custody and placed separately in foster homes. She was shuffled between 10 different places before being admitted to Murphy-Harpst, a faith-based residential treatment center and group home serving Georgia’s most severely abused and at-risk children.

While making gingerbread houses last year, another child from Murphy-Harpst asked Janie what she wanted for Christmas. The 11-year-old replied, “I want a family.” Although sad, Janie’s story is not unique. Children like Janie, ranging in age from seven to 17, arrive at Murphy-Harpst each year. “When they come, they are very angry, destructive and violent. Most are suicidal,” said Emily Saltino, vice president of development of Murphy-Harpst. “This is their last hope before they go into a state mental health facility.”

Therapeutic programs that address severe emotional and behavioral problems are at the heart of each child’s recovery. “At first Janie was uncontrollable and pushed caring adults and potential friends away. After spending many months in individual therapy processing the loss of her parents and the pain of separation from her siblings, Janie has begun to smile, make friends and care for other people. She is doing so great that we’re hoping by next Christmas Janie will have a foster family,” said Emily.

Murphy-Harpst, a United Methodist related agency in Polk county, has a success rate of over 80 percent. It is ranked in the top 10 percent of more than 15,000 healthcare organizations nationwide by the Joint Commission for the Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations.

“When the children come back to visit us as adults, we ask them why they are successful,” said Emily. “They always say it’s because of the caring staff and the fact that we’re a faith-based agency. This is where they learned forgiveness and learned to follow Jesus Christ.”

Since 2007 the state of Georgia has drastically reduced reimbursements to providers of children’s services. As a result, Murphy Harpst is now faced with a $2 million deficit. In order to carry out its mission of giving life and hope to hundreds of children each year, this United Methodist related agency must rely on donations from individuals and churches.

In December 2008, Murphy-Harpst received an unusual $10,000 contribution. “We were ecstatic and so grateful that we would have the funding to pay for therapy for Janie and the other children,” said Emily. “This monetary donation gave us hope and encouragement. It was a confirmation that the donor believed in what we were doing.”

This gift was made possible by an individual who established a donor advised fund with the North Georgia United Methodist Foundation.

“The biggest benefit of a donor advised fund is that you can give the money today, get a full deduction for it in this tax year, and then have that money distributed in future years,” said the donor who asked to remain anonymous. “I was also pleased with how easy it was to set up.”

According to the National Philanthropic Trust, donor advised funds, which hold approximately $21.7 billion in assets, are the fastest growing charitable giving vehicle. If you would like more information regarding the benefits of establishing a donor advised fund, please call the Foundation at 770-449-6726 or visit their Web site at