I care most about developing a sense of community around philanthropy, particularly among younger people with self-made wealth in Silicon Valley. These kinds of donors tend to have a greater sense of idealism and interest in making a social investment, but often are not sure where to give and how to reliably measure the impact of their involvement.
How do you contribute?
I was president and CEO of Community Foundation Silicon Valley for 18 years. I helped philanthropists to connect with one another and to use philanthropy in a way that makes a social impact. By 2008, we were giving away $150 million a year to virtually every sector of the nonprofit arena. Now I’m a senior fellow at the Center for Social Innovation and am helping promote social entrepreneurship among students through classes, advising, publishing, working with nonprofit leaders, and speaking on the work of the Center at conferences.
What are important lessons you learned?
In promoting philanthropy, I’ve found that the interests of people with self-made wealth are entirely different from those who come from traditionally wealthy families. That means there are many people out there who are now poised to make a difference in society.
Nonprofits are managed as well as, or better than, most businesses. I’m a raving fan of the work these organizations do with limited resources.
There is an unmet opportunity for government and philanthropy to become more creatively engaged. There needs to be better communication between the two. The really big problems are only going to be solved by really big dollars and really big system change. I’m hopeful about that.