One of my friends on Linked In sent me a great article about the former President of the Peninsula Community Foundation, which is now the Silicon Valley Community Foundation and run by another trailblazer Emmett Carson. Bill Somerville now runs the Philanthropic Ventures Foundation and uses a process called "paperless giving" to make his grant decisions. Paperless giving involves him spending time in the community, listening to people impacted by community issues, and finding people with innovative solutions. He then gives money in 48 hours or less to support projects that look like they have potential. "I'm trying to push the envelope of philanthropy - most foundations are paralyzed in bureaucracies of their own making," he said recently, over a meal of meat loaf, curry pilaf and steamed vegetables at the St. Anthony of Padua soup kitchen in Menlo Park.
I loved the article and I think Somerville has a great approach but it made me wonder, since when does common sense giving get you a full spread in the San Francisco Chronicle? I am hoping for a day when good decision-making and less bureaucracy by foundations is a non-story but until then, check out the article here.