Philanthropic Ventures Foundation

July 2013  


a newsletter for our donors and colleagues  


22 Years of Creative Grant Making

by: James Higa, Executive Director


We are excited to share with you our 2012 Report. The full report and can be found on our website, but here are some highlights.


Last year was a record year for our donors, who gave nearly $11M in grants through PVF. The thread that runs through our grants is people. We have come to be known as the foundation that "finds 'em and funds 'em."


We are continually looking for leaders doing outstanding work and identifying unmet needs that can be met with philanthropic support. You may wonder if we ever run out of new finds. It is quite the opposite. We are energized by the wellspring of organizations applying new approaches to tackle major issues from poverty to hunger.    


For a foundation with very limited assets to make annual grants of almost $11M is unheard of. This grant level is typically associated with a foundation over $220M in assets. How do we do this? By eliminating paperwork, simplifying the grant process, and optimizing for speed, action, and effectiveness. Our peers in the community foundation sector typically spend far more than 10% of grants made on administration expenses.


We challenge ourselves every day to ask - are the application processes too cumbersome? Are creative donors open to new ways to invest in causes they care about? Are we doing enough at PVF to think differently?   


To learn more about how we embrace the 'venture' in 'adventure', please take a look at our 2012 Report. And let us know what you think and how we can improve. We welcome your ideas on how philanthropy should and could work.  


To our current donors, we thank you for your being so supportive of our mission for grassroots philanthropy born out of creative thinking. For everyone else, why not venture with us to make something happen in your community?   


About PVF 

 PVF is a demonstration foundation practicing unique forms of grantmaking and conducting innovative philanthropy. Our primary interest is in the creative and significant use of the philanthropic dollar.

About the Editors 
James Higa
James Higa, Executive Director
James Higa brings 28 years of executive experience from Silicon Valley to PVF, working alongside Steve Jobs to change the face of technology. He was at the birth of the personal computer revolution as a member of the original Macintosh team and was deeply involved in the creation of many breakthrough products and services at Apple over the last three decades. James has a long history of public service as a board member of Stanford's Haas Center and in grassroots relief efforts.
Bill Somerville, President & CEO
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 President. Bill has consulted at over 400 community foundations in the U.S., Canada, and the U.K., on creative grantmaking and foundation operations. Bill is the author of Grassroots Philanthropy: Field Notes of a Maverick Grantmaker.

Connect With Us 


PVF's Impact in the Community
We are thrilled to have our donors renew funding for our immediate response teacher grant programs for the 2013-2014 school year. These funds provide much-needed support to areas like field trips, special education, science, math, and the arts at public schools across five Bay Area counties. The piece below, written by Oakland teacher and Excursion Grant recipient, Juliet Dana, depicts the impact our grant programs have had on the community:

I wonder if I can fully explain the depth of opportunity you made possible with your open-hearted, abundant, empowering grant. For me personally, this grant made my heart soar; as a second-year classroom teacher-struggling to bring my outdoor education background meaningfully into my urban, gritty classroom-our day at the White Hawks Ropes Course felt natural and here to read more!

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

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