COUR TES Y OF THE MARGARE T A. CARGILL PHILANTHROPIES
ern states, including the Dakotas,
Minnesota, Montana, and Missouri,
that did not receive as much attention as the East and West coasts.
Two Cargill grantees praised
the organization’s efforts to engage
nonprofits in its strategic-planning
Darius Teter, vice president for
programs at the antipoverty group
Oxfam — which has received
money from the Margaret A. Cargill
Foundation for its disaster work in
Central America, Ethiopia, and the
Pacific Islands — participated in a
“joint learning exercise” last year
with other grantees who discussed
lessons learned in responding to
international disasters. Cargill
leaders “showed a real humility
about knowing what the answer is
to complex challenges,” he says.
Mark Tercek, president of the
Nature Conservancy, who used to
work on Wall Street, compares Ms.
Morse to Warren Buffett, the unassuming Nebraska investor who gets
extraordinary results by working
closely with the limited number of
companies that get his money. He
says Ms. Morse and her colleagues
have made an exceptional effort
to understand the Nature Conservancy’s work, including site visits,
attendance at board meetings and
annual volunteer meetings, conversations at his or their headquarters
— and even efforts to find out what
makes him tick.
As a designated beneficiary of
the Anne Ray Charitable Trust, the
He says he hopes the philanthro-
py’s approach starts to get more
“They’re Midwestern,” he says.
“They don’t toot their own horn or
anything,” he says. “It’s just one step
The effort to document Ms. Car-
gill’s wishes began with Ms. Morse,
who met the industrial heiress
in the 1990s while working for a
financial-services firm that advised
the Cargill family. The t wo women
bonded over their shared Minne-
sota backgrounds and interest in
Scandinavia, and “she became a
very dear friend to me and to my
family,” Ms. Morse says.
Ms. Cargill, who moved to Southern California after graduating from
the University of Minnesota in 1954,
made substantial anonymous donations over the years, and Ms. Morse
helped her set up the Anne Ray trust
and Akaloa to channel her philanthropy. The latter supports eight
groups serving Southern California,
including the San Diego Humane
Society, the Idyllwild Arts Foundation, and the St. Paul’s Retirement
Ms. Morse also helped Ms.
Cargill lay the groundwork for the
grant maker that would be created
after she died. “She didn’t want
Ms. Morse, who worked with an-
other of Ms. Cargill’s close friends
to change the heiress’s mind. “We
felt pretty strongly she should get
the credit for the good work she
had been doing.”
She and others then began doc-
umenting how Ms. Cargill wanted
her fortune to be spent.
“She’d say, ‘When I die,
just do it,’ ” Ms. Morse says.
“And I would say, ‘Yeah,
but I’m going to die, too. I
gotta have it written down.
I gotta have guidance. The
Mr. Busch, then Ms.