Many philanthropists prefer to remain anonymous.
Murray Duggins wants to be an example.
“I feel that a lot of people that I know will give based on other people’s gifts,” said Duggins. “I hope this starts a trend here in Fayetteville — not that I’m a trendsetter or some cool guy.”
Duggins and his wife, Nancy, have donated $2 million to the Cumberland Community Foundation to create the Murray and Nancy Duggins Family Charitable Fund, the foundation said in a news release.
“The gift represents only the third time a gift of this size has been received from a living donor,” said Mary Holmes, president and CEO of the Cumberland Community Foundation.
Murray Duggins, who is 77 and a self-described Army brat born in the small South Carolina town of Blackville, said he has been thinking about making the donation for years.
“I want to see Fayetteville grow, and things happening here indicate that,” he said. “I hope I’m a big-picture person.”
He hopes others will follow suit.
“I do think that many people I know who have money and don’t give – I hope it will make a difference,” he said.
The Dugginses have been supporting the community foundation since 2000, Holmes said, adding that the couple also give to many other local causes. This marks the second fund that they have created at the foundation, with the first being the Murray and Nancy Duggins Endowment for Cape Fear Regional Theatre.
“It’s just wonderful to see a family that has worked so hard sharing what they earned and giving back to the local community,” Holmes said in an interview on Thursday. “We appreciate when people have worked so hard and want to share in the community. I’m glad they focused on Cumberland County.”
Murray Duggins said he has been involved in planning his estate for some time and was trying to think of the best way to give back. That’s why he decided to donate to the Cumberland Community Foundation.
“It takes a little pressure off the individual to have to meet with different people and decide which is the most appropriate,” he said. “They’re pros at it. They’re pros at where to put the money and who’s doing the best job. Mary Holmes, I think, is top-drawer.”
Overall, Duggins estimated, he has given close to $3 million to philanthropic causes. Especially close to his heart are Methodist University, his alma mater; the Fayetteville Police Foundation; Snyder Memorial Baptist Church; and Cape Fear Valley Cancer Center.
Cumberland Community Foundation manages more than 600 donor funds with a total of $120 million in assets, the release said.
Some are designated for a specific charity, some are scholarship funds, and some are unrestricted, Holmes said in the release.
“This fund is a family-advised fund, meaning that Nancy and Murray will actively recommend the distributions and then pass that responsibility on to the next generation in their family. Advised funds help affluent families organize their philanthropy — like a private foundation without all the headaches,” she said in the release.
Holmes said the Dugginses’ gift is the second-largest made to the foundation by a living donor.
“It’s so nice when couples are living and decide to give back,” she said.
Holmes said she was Duggins’ banker 30 years ago.
“I can tell you, he’s a hard-working man,” she said.
Duggins, a developer of affordable housing, said he got involved in the construction industry in the early 1980s when he started developing tax-credit projects.
“I’ve been at it for 50 years,” he said. “Nancy was a dental hygienist for years. She’s been retired for 20 years, at least. Nancy has meant a lot. She was active in the Cape Fear Valley Hospital for years.”
While her husband grew up the son of an Army sergeant, Nancy Duggins, who also is 77, was the daughter of a mill worker in Hope Mills.
Murray Duggins said he has “a great love for Fayetteville — all it has meant for me and my family.”
“I want to give back to Fayetteville,” he said. “I just feel inclined to do it. I think it makes Fayetteville a stronger place. …
“I’ve done well," he said, "and I think I can make a difference. Nancy feels very strongly, too, and my family is all here, and they’ve done well. Hopefully, they’ll see the idea I’ve got. It’s easier to give and worthwhile. At my age, I see money differently than I did a few years ago. I can make a difference.”