High-tech rainmaker – Pitching charity to entrepreneurs

In the capital of the digital revolution, a former corporate advertising executive is converting high-tech entrepreneurs into hands-on philanthropists, and building charity into the region’s culture, Fortune magazine reported in its Nov. 27 issue.

In the 11 years since he took its helm, Peter Hero has built what was then the Community Foundation of Santa Clara County, with $9 million in assets, into what is now Community Foundation Silicon Valley, with $625 million in assets.

The foundation, which hands out $1 million a week and has raised $100 million in the first five months of its current budget year, has harnessed the region’s culture to build a brand of charity that is demanding, ambitious, self-conscious, creative and even risky – and turned philanthropy into another Silicon Valley high-growth industry, Fortune said.

Hero’s strategy has been to make the foundation a one-stop service center for new donors, with each donor assigned a foundation staffer akin to a private banker.

The foundation provides research on individual nonprofits, produces studies on philanthropic issues, helps new donors develop a giving strategy and encourages them to “diversify” their giving, Fortune said.

He also has championed innovation in philanthropy.

The Mayfair Improvement Initiative, for example, consists of 76 separate projects that aim to boost a low-income, mostly Hispanic community with $15 million in public and private funds.

And the Silicon Valley Social Venture Fund is a pooled fund with contributions of at least $2,500 a year from 100 venture capitalists and entrepreneurs who scrutinize and get involved with the nonprofits they support.

“We need to create a culture where philanthropy becomes a way of life in Silicon Valley,” Hero told Fortune.

For full story, go to Fortune.

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