Farewell my brother

A personal tribute from Michael G. Downes.

Written by
Michael G. Downes
June 03, 2009
Terry and Michael, together.

After a long illness, Terry Murray passed away on the 5th November 2008 ... the eve of his 70th birthday. Terry was my partner, colleague in fundraising, friend and more… a brother for the past 23 years. He and I had the time of our lives through it all.

Terry and I first met in Melbourne, Australia in February 1986 when Terry became interested in the Total Development concept my consulting firm had pioneered. We resolved to do a series of three-day workshops in Durban, Cape Town and Johannesburg later that year. Over 120 people attended these very successful workshops and some of them are still in fundraising today.

In May 1987 we established the South African firm called Downes Murray International. We took our thoughts on Total Development to the world and were listened to. In New York we managed to establish the first ever World Fundraising Council which represented professional fundraising people all over the world including South Africa during times of apartheid. We established affiliations in America, Canada and the United Kingdom that led to an international consulting group.

The primary motivation was to do things together ... to spread our message around the world. We believed in teaching philanthropy... the love of mankind. We believed that fundraising was an honourable profession and that we could do great things to change the way people related to one another. We believed in caring for and sharing with others.

Terry Murray was professionally important because he had probably more experience in fundraising generally than any other living being. And I’m not just talking about South Africa where of course, he has been a giant in the field., but also internationally. Terry Murray is thought by many to be the best direct mail fundraiser in the world bar none. Those who know have said so often.

When Terry spoke on a fundraising issue it was with a wealth of international experience. He figured out what turns people on … or off … no matter their nationality.

In fundraising the turnover of people is horrific and newcomers can bring some wild ideas. Terry would calmly remind us that basic fundraising principles never die. He knew that every time someone has tried to change the way to deal with donors it would often go very wrong. Terry and I were together somewhere in the world at least twice and maybe three times every year. I worked with him in South Africa during the formative years of DMI. He worked with me around the world with our international interests. These past few years he has helped my son, Chris Downes build a very successful direct mail business in Australia and New Zealand.

The true magic of Terry happened after business was done. He had a passion for engaging with people to ask about their families and interests. He would remember the names of their wives and children. He was always happiest interacting with people.

Though he and I were completely different people, with different likes and dislikes, we spent days and weeks together talking about everything. It was because of our differences that together we were such a great help to one another personally. Because of our differences and unique fundraising experiences we also became a great team, to the benefit of our clients.

My son Chris and I managed to get to South Africa to see Terry just before he died. We were able to be of some help to the family afterwards and it was indeed an honour for me to coordinate the remembrances at his wake ... a magnificent lunch in Cape Town where over 80 close friends and family joined to celebrate his 70 years on this earth.

My sincere sympathy goes to his family and to Emmi, Jenni and all at DMI ... he loved you all so very much and he will be sadly missed. For me – many tears have been shed. He will always remain in my heart and in my prayers. ‘Goodnight my Brother ... I will see you in the morning’.

Michael G. Downes

Be sure to read “Thirteen milestones from a distinguished career”.

About the author: Michael G. Downes

Michael G. Downes

Michael Downes is an international expert on fundraising, a much sought after speaker at most major international fundraising conferences, and author of "Downes on Fundraising".

He is now semi retired but continues to provide strategic service and advice to DVA NAVION and its clients.

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Terry Murray was a founder, former chairman and chief executive officer of Downes Murray International, the largest fundraising consultancy in South Africa. Terry started out in direct mail fundraising in 1962, building a company that went on to win international awards in the USA, Britain and Europe. The direct mail programmes run by DMI raise millions of rands each year not only from within South Africa but also from overseas donors.

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