Silicon Valley reinvents philanthropy

Chronicles of Philanthropy

While the Internet revolution has brought its share of success stories and new usages, it has also changed the world of philanthropy, according to a detailed survey by The Chronicle of Philanthropy. And while Facebook’s founder, Mark Zuckerberg, has been in the news for his record donation in 2011, he is really only following a trend launched… in 1999 by the first president of eBay, Jeff Skoll.

After heading eBay in 1996, Jeff Skoll created his own foundation in 1999, in other words, a year before Bill Gates created his foundation… Today, the Skoll foundation is at the forefront of support for social businesses. Many other Silicon Valley prodigies have taken over the cause of change on the social sphere, with the result of changing practices in the voluntary sector, notes The Chronicle of Philanthropy.

Indeed, they tend to bring both a business-centred view, aimed at optimising fund allocation, and a new creative approach, inspired by social networks and the Internet. For instance, they seem to have proven capability to “connect ideas across areas and problems that seem unrelated,” according to a Silicon Valley Community Foundation official.

“Philanthropy is not just a story of big presents. It a question of participation,” states Marc Benioff, creator of, who gave 100 million dollars to a Californian hospital, UCSF Children’s Hospital.
Craig Newmark, founder of Craiglist, said essentially the same thing, when he asserted that philanthropy resonates well with the basis of the Internet soul: “people who work together, get together and achieve things in a group.”