Philanthropic Ventures Foundation

 May 2012 


a newsletter for our donors and colleagues  


What Does Immediate Response Grantmaking Mean?

We are told by staff at the Foundation Center that the average time for a nonprofit to apply to a foundation is now 27 hours. These same people tell us that the time spent in applying, in reviewing the application, and in evaluating the grant can amount to 45% of the grant in transaction costs. We feel this is regrettable.

At Philanthropic Ventures Foundation all our grants are made in 48 hours and we do paperless giving wherein the applicant does not have to submit an application. We exercise trust in our relations with those applying to the foundation, people we think of as colleagues, rather than as applicants or grantees. We do what we do with care, thoughtfulness, and respect and those we deal with appreciate this and tell us so. Now they can spend more time being creative.


We ask, why require an outstanding program director whom we have dealt with for years fill out an application? We have visited them numerous times. We are familiar with their work. We know and trust them. Thus we have the basis for paperless giving wherein we send a check with a letter of transmittal that has a paragraph of what the grant is for. We ask for a signed copy of this letter and now we have a signed agreement and receipt of the check - everything needed for an audit.


Trust means you have to trust yourself. Again, the Foundation Center tells us that foundation personnel require paper as due diligence. We don't accept this and we go one step further in that we give discretionary grants where the recipient can decide where best to use the funds vs. earmarking every detail of how the money is to be used.


Our job is to help people be successful. We are their advocates.

Larry Purcell 
Watch this video to hear Larry
Purcell of the Catholic Worker
House talk about being a
"Teamster for the Poor."  

Past copies of our Progress newsletter are available here. In some of these issues we highlight how PVF finds outstanding people and programs in the community, and we give a profile of their work.  


One of those highlighted is Larry Purcell who runs the Catholic Worker House in Redwood City. Larry recently described the almost 35 year relationship between Catholic Worker House and PVF:   


"PVF and their quick grants are possible because we are partners. We know one another and Bill has spent years getting to know the community of San Mateo County, its needs and the people that are working for the very poor. This familiarity builds trust and that trust facilitates the whole process of requesting money and accounting for how it is used. With PVF I never feel like I am earning the money they grant. We are in this together. Sometimes more important that the money sent is the emotional support for the ups and downs of working with the extremely poor. Personal support is only possible when grant makers and community workers take the time and energy to know each other and experience each other as colleagues."

Join Us

Philanthropic Ventures Foundation has come to depict exciting philanthropy - grassroots giving that is born out of creative thinking. If readers would like to explore new possibilities in their giving, we are ready to meet at your convenience. We believe your giving should be fun, satisfying and significant.

We can be reached at (510) 645-1890.

About the Editor

Bill Somerville has been in non-profit and philanthropic work for 50 years. He was the director of a community foundation for 17 years, and in 1991 founded Philanthropic Ventures Foundation where he serves as Executive Director. PVF is a demonstration foundation practicing unique forms of grantmaking and conducting innovative philanthropy. Bill has consulted at over 400 community foundations in the United States, Canada, and the U.K., on creative grantmaking and foundation operations.  His primary interest is in the creative and significant use of the philanthropic dollar.

Board of Directors

Duncan Beardsley, Chair


Generosity in Action  


John P. Carver

Retired Senior Vice-President

The Gap Inc.


William E. Green


William Green & Associates


James Higa

Senior Director

Apple Inc. 


Albert J. Horn


Carr, McClellan, Ingersoll,

Thompson & Horn PC


Bill Somerville, President

Executive Director

Philanthropic Ventures Foundation


Jackie Speier

U.S. Representative

12th District of California
Moira C. Walsh

Attorney and

Philanthropic Advisor


Colburn S. Wilbur

Trustee and Former President, 

David and Lucile Packard Foundation 

Board of Advisors

Janet Camarena

Director, San Francisco Office,

The Foundation Center


Leonard Edwards

Judge-in-Residence, California Administrative Office of the Courts


Kathy Kwan


The Eustace-Kwan Family Foundation 


Dien Yuen

Chief Philanthropy Officer,


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25 Philanthropic Bullet Points

There are certain givens when working in professional philanthropy (foundations). The list of 25 bullet points below is my effort to shed light on them, based on several decades working with and for grantmakers. 


     - Trust People - trust yourself.

     - Be willing to venture, to take risks, but don't gamble.

     - If something fails, it is a learning experience.

     - Give funds when they are needed, move quickly.

     - Get out of the office, do on-site visits.  


      Read more Bullet Points at our blog. 

Want to Know More?


Philanthropic Ventures Foundation, 1222 Preservation Park Way, Oakland CA 94612-1201

Telephone: (510) 645-1890  Fax: (510) 645-1892