Cracking the Giving Code

Don't have much of a lede for this one, but then I stumbled on the headline Billy Joel, the Donald Trump of Pop Music - To stave off our spiritual crisis, let’s begin by rejecting pop’s ultimate con man, and holy crap, I can’t do anything BUT read that right now, so I expect you all will as well.

Yesterday I attended an event discussing the new report The Giving Code: Silicon Valley Nonprofits and Philanthropy, where I learned that in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties, the median home sale price is $830,000 while 29.5% of residents require some form of public or private assistance.

The whole afternoon centered on the disconnect between the number of millionaires and billionaires in Silicon Valley, the vast amount of wealth being generated in those counties, and the fact that so many community-based organizations are not on the receiving end of that growth. And with skyrocketing costs of living and the contraction of the middle class, 80% of non-profits report an increase in demand, while most are seeing a rapid rise in operating costs. It’s a tricky conundrum that the report refers to as The Prosperity Paradox.

That’s not to say that SV-dwellers aren't giving. They are: the rate of charitable giving in Silicon Valley outpaces California and the US in terms of % of gross adjusted income. But donations to alma maters and large-budget hospitals command the vast majority of donations and funding, while smaller non-profits are left out of the giving loops. The report provides recommendations for how non-profits and SV donors can connect and make a real difference at the local level, and provides tips on how non-profits can think about cracking the new Giving Code that is establishing itself amongst younger tech workers.

And in other disheartening non-profit news; last week my former employer Alberta Theatre Projects announced that they need $400,000 or they may have to close their doors due to a downturn in corporate funding during the Calgary oil recession.

I totally didn’t mean for this to end on a bummer, so I highly encourage you to read the report if you are interested in locally-directed philanthropy.

And the next time you’re looking to direct your funds to worthy causes, check and see if there are any in your zip code. I know I will be trying to.