Piper Trust: Community Benefit Continues Legacy of Founder

by RaeAnne Marsh

PiperTrustThe impact of the Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust on Maricopa County nonprofits goes beyond the $21–$22 million it grants every year. “We have tried not only to recognize the importance of the financial awards, but be partners [to nonprofits in the community],” says Judy Mohraz, president and CEO of the Trust.

The Trust was established in 1995, when Virginia Galvin Piper, widow of Motorola founder Paul Galvin, died and left $600 million to fund its foundation. “The challenge is how to focus [the grants] strategically,” Mohraz says. “How can we make a bigger difference, rather than spreading it across many fields?”  The answer is to concentrate on the six areas Virginia G. Piper identified and gave to during her lifetime.

“Grants are important, but we try to support and strengthen the community in other ways as well,” Mohraz says. These efforts include bringing in national experts in areas that nonprofits care about and need to improve, such as strengthening their own boards; making investments in leadership, awarding sabbaticals for up to five nonprofits leaders each year; introducing best practices; and introducing new models such as helping them learn new approaches to fundraising.



  • The six areas in which the foundation awards grants are arts & culture, children, education, healthcare & medical research, older adults and religious organizations.
  • To achieve its goal of making its grant-making as clear as possible, the foundation presents a once-a-month orientation — “Piper 101” — to explain how it makes decisions, who is eligible, and what is involved in making a strong proposal.
  • All of the Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust grants are awarded within Maricopa County.
  • The Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust Board of Trustees is comprised of individuals who have a deep sense of stewardship; understand our community; have been involved in nonprofits, serving on their boards, and so understand the pressures and work of nonprofits; and bring diverse expertise, such as banking, law, real estate development and healthcare.

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