The Giving Code: Silicon Valley Nonprofits and Philanthropy

Published October 2016
By: Alexa Cortés Culwell, Heather McLeod Grant

Published in 2016 and covered by media outlets around the world, The Giving Code: Silicon Valley Nonprofits and Philanthropy continues to drive national discussion about the disconnect between growing philanthropy and community needs. Funded by The David and Lucile Packard Foundation, the report breaks new ground by providing a holistic portrait of the region’s nonprofit and philanthropy ecosystems—their size and shape, how they operate, where and why they do or do not intersect. In it, we examine and challenge Silicon Valley’s emerging “giving code,”—an implicit approach to philanthropy embodied by new tech donors—exploring the divides that exist between local philanthropists and community-based nonprofits, and sharing ideas for how to bridge the gaps.

Based on a year of research and analysis, and conversations with more than 300 community stakeholders—from high-net-worth individuals and their advisors, to leaders of community-based organizations, the report set out to answer questions such as: Why are Silicon Valley community-based organizations struggling to meet demand in one of the wealthiest and most sophisticated regions in the world? Why aren’t more Silicon Valley philanthropists directing their dollars toward local organizations and issues—in addition to national or global causes—and why hasn’t more entrepreneurial ingenuity been harnessed to solve local problems? What is the cause of these disconnects, and how might we help bring these two groups together in service of a shared community?