Access Account

Get Inside!

We're publishing new articles and funder profiles every day. Don't miss a thing with premium access.

When you join, you'll get full access to 

* Regular updates across 37 funding areas.
* Coverage & profiles of emerging donors.
* Funding guides for 49 issues and metro areas.
* Profiles of over 700 top program officers.
* Analysis of major individual gifts by sector.

Related Articles
More Guides


Gordon Moore

NET WORTH: $6.8 billion


FUNDING AREAS: Environment, Health, Scientific Innovation, San Francisco Community

OVERVIEW: There are very few that can boast of philanthropy as significant as Gordon Moore, who has given away well over $1 billion to a variety of causes. He is most passionate about the environment, but has also made significant contributions toward scientific advancement and nursing programs.

BACKGROUND: Gordon Moore grew up outside San Francisco, and attended San Jose State for two years before transferring to Berkeley. He then did graduate work at Cal Tech, receiving a Ph.D. in chemistry with a minor in physics, and continued to do postdoctoral work at Johns Hopkins for two years before going to work with fellow CalTech alumnus William Shockley at the Shockley Semiconductor Laboratory. He did not last long there, however, as the working environment under Shockley was not to his liking. Simon Fairchild persuaded Moore and seven others from the Lab to come work for him at one of Silicon Valley’s first tech incubators, which became the famous Fairchild Semiconductors. A few years later, his colleague Robert Noyce founded NM Electronics, which later became the Intel Corporation. Moore is now retired, though he still holds the position of Chairman Emeritus at Intel.

PHILOSOPHY: The Moores' philanthropy tends to be very targeted. They don’t just give general operating funds; they pick targeted areas and give grants to specific programs to achieve their goals.


ENVIRONMENT: The Moore Foundation is a major funder of programs that support long-term environmental conservation and sustainability. Their major initiatives include an Andes-Amazon Initiative, a Marine Conservation Initiative, a Wild Salmon Ecosystems Initiative, and a land conservation initiative in the San Francisco Bay Area.

One of their more recent Marine Conservation grants was nearly $2.5 million to Third Sector New England, and typifies their giving in this area. The goal of the project Moore funded, known as SeaPlan, is to support stakeholder engagement and science integration in the refinement of the Massachusetts Ocean Management Plan and the development of the New England Regional Marine Spatial Plan. They also support policy and management analyses, and exploration of supporting ocean planning in other U.S. regions.

Grants of $1 million or more are not uncommon for the Moore Foundation; more than three dozen environmental organizations have received over a million dollars over the years, the largest by far being Conservation International, which has received more than 30 grants for a total of more than $600 million. Other major recipients have included the Wildlife Conservation Society and the Nature Conservancy, which have received around $20 million each.

This does not mean, however, that the Moore Foundation only funds large projects through major non-profits; they are just as likely to fund a request for a few thousand or a few hundred thousand as they are a request for a few million if the project fits within their area of interest. Nor does it mean that environmental and conservation groups that fall outside their normal areas of interest won’t be considered for grants. In fact, the Moore Foundation actually has a program dedicated to special environmental projects, and has recently given significant donations to projects such as the World Wildlife Fund’s China Sustainable Growth Fund, and The Governors’ Climate and Forest Task Force based out of the University of Colorado Law School.

HEALTH: In the health sector, the Moore Foundation is focused primarily on patient care. Gordon’s wife Betty seems to be the main driver of these initiatives; the University of California, Davis, named its nursing school after her in the wake of a $100 million contribution. They also fund numerous other nursing programs through the Berry Irene Moore Nursing Initiative, with a typical grant being in the $250,000-$500,000 range. Some of the grantees have a focus that is national in scope, but most are more local, with donations largely focused on organizations based in Northern California.

The Moore Foundation’s ICU Consortium is national in scope, giving millions to prominent research hospitals that include Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Brigham & Women’s Hospital, Johns Hopkins, and the University of California at San Francisco for ICU-related programs that seek to improve nursing practices and eliminate preventable harms. Perhaps the best bet for those outside Northern California interested in health-related grants from the Moore Foundation are programs focused on improving patient and family engagement in the healthcare process.

SCIENTIFIC INNOVATION: The Moores fund a great variety of projects that focus on scientific and technological innovation. These most often go to research labs at universities; the largest recipient is Cal Tech, where Gordon did his graduate work and is now on the board of trustees. Moore has pledged $600 million to the university for programs including Quantum Information Science, the Center for Analysis of Higher Brain Function, and a program dedicated to improving solar energy technology. Other areas of interest include early warning systems for earthquakes, more powerful telescopes for studying the stars, plant research geared toward medical discovery, marine microbiology, and most recently a collaborative initiative aimed at unleashing the power of big data to spur scientific breakthroughs.

SAN FRANCISCO COMMUNITY: Much of the Moores' giving is centered around the San Francisco Community, and Northern California at large. Several hundred million has gone to land trusts and conservation efforts in the area, and much of their giving in the health arena is focused here as well. Apart from this, they focus on supporting science and technology museums. Their largest contribution in this area has been to the Exploratorium, which has received over $30 million in contributions.

ARTS & CULTURE: While most of the Moore’s giving in this area has been focused on the San Francisco Bay Area, they have made notable contributions of nearly $4.5 million to the Smithsonian, and almost $14 million to the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago. The purpose of the latter, however, was closely tied to environmental causes, and dealt with identifying species and habitats in need of protection, and the purpose of the former was related to scientific discovery, and involved developing x-ray technology for use in astronomy.

LOOKING FORWARD: In his mid 80s, Moore has already made a significant mark on a number of different causes, and though it doesn’t seem very likely there will be any major shifts in his philanthropy, his foundation currently holds assets of $6.8 billion, ensuring that his philanthropic legacy will continue long after he is gone.


Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation
1661 Page Mill Road
Palo Alto, CA 94304
(650) 213-3000



Moore Foundation



Reader Comments

There are no comments for this journal entry. To create a new comment, use the form below.

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>