The Armstrong McDonald Foundation was incorporated in the State of Nebraska in 1986. The incorporators were Future H. McDonald and James M. McDonald, III. The original administrative office was located in Scottsdale, Arizona until 1993 when it was relocated to the Tucson area.

The foundation came into being as a result of the equal split of the J. M. McDonald Foundation that was founded and funded by Mr. J. M. McDonald, Sr., in 1952 in Hastings, Nebraska, the city in which the corporate offices of the J. M. McDonald Company were located. The five original trustees were Messrs. McDonald Sr. and Jr., Future H. McDonald (Jr.'s spouse), Reed and Eleanor McJunkin (son-in-law and daughter of senior). The McJunkin family retained the name of the original foundation and moved its administrative offices to New York. Future H. McDonald and her son, James M. McDonald, III, incorporated the Armstrong McDonald Foundation utilizing the McDonald name to maintain the tie to the original and coupling it with the maiden name of senior's spouse to differentiate it from the forerunner foundation.

The state of incorporation is now Arizona.