Tipping Point Community Offers Unique Approach to Bay Area Giving

The Bay Area is full of foundations with assets in the millions — and billions — of dollars, and that's one reason why San Francisco-based Tipping Point Community is such a unique funder. Each year, the organization starts from zero, raising funds throughout the year before siphoning it back into Bay Area nonprofits before the year is over.

Since 2005, Tipping Point has provided funding of more than $50 million for Bay Area nonprofits that fight to prevent poverty, and they focusing on all poverty-based issues, including education, healthcare, and nutrition, to name a few.

Earlier this month, Tipping Point continued their fight to prevent poverty locally, providing $100,000 to Nurse-Family Partnership, an organization that provides home visits for first-time mothers living in poverty. The donation for the Denver-based NFP enabled the organization to expand their services in the region.

Tipping Point's support will help fund two workshops this year that will focus on leveraging public and private funding for NFP's Bay Area programs, and the donation will also pay for a grant coordinator who will guide each local program in developing a long-term funding strategy.

"As we strive to make poverty preventable in the Bay Area, NFP's work with low-income, first-time mothers is critical to making that vision a reality," Tipping Point CEO and founder Daniel Lurie said in a statement.

But it's likely Tipping Point's check wasn't written overnight.

In fact, Tipping Point makes it known that they’re "unapologetically focused on impact," providing funding for results-oriented organizations that can show "a return on donors' philanthropic investments." Not only that, Tipping Point has a lengthy selection process, spending an average of 93 hours interviewing, researching, and checking in on Bay Area organizations before writing a check.

Tipping Point’s unique approach doesn't stop at starting each year at zero.

The organization's board — which is made up of tech investors, investment managers and even football Hall of Famer Ronnie Lott — underwrites Tipping Point's operating costs, allowing 100% of every dollar raised to go directly to Bay Area nonprofits.

And now, Tipping Point is starting to make noise on the national level.

Recently, Lurie — who founded Tipping Point in 2005 after leaving the Robin Hood Foundation — was interviewed by the Wall Street Journal, providing insight into the organization's approach to fighting poverty in the Bay Area.  

"Our staff acts like investment professionals [by] going out to look for good investments," in nonprofits, Lurie said in the interview. And the organization continues to grow each year. In 2012, Tipping Point raised $12 million, which is more than 20 times more than they raised in 2005.

"We have a long way to go," Lurie told the Wall Street Journal. "The fact is that issues of poverty have not decreased. We have two paths right now in our region — one is the path of tech and incredible wealth generation, and the other is we see that gap widen. We need to bridge that because we need this region to be the best it can be."