Will Bay Area Tech Companies Deliver on a New Anti-Poverty Push?

Back in March, we reported on SF Gives, Tipping Point Community's initiative to build a coalition of at least 20 tech companies willing to contribute $500,000 to fighting poverty in the Bay Area. Spearheaded by Salesforce founder and CEO Marc Benioff, the initial coalition also included Box, Dropbox, Google, IfOnly, Jawbone, LinkedIn, POPSUGAR, and Zynga. Now, with just one day to go, a total of 15 corporate partners have joined the SF Gives campaign, with Apple being the latest to add its name to the list. 

With 1.3 million Bay Area residents living below the poverty line, SF Gives hopes to close the "opportunity gap" that many residents attribute to the tech industry causing property values to skyrocket, pricing many longtime residents out of the housing market, among other things. Many of the organizations taking part in the coalition also hope it will help mend the industry's reputation, which is less than stellar among many local residents.  "We'll win some people over, and some we won't," said Tipping Point Community CEO Daniel Lurie. "But it won't stop us from continuing to push."

Though it seems to have gotten a relatively warm reception from the tech community, SF Gives is still, by all appearances, a couple million short of its goal. There are, however, a number of notable names not yet on the list. Facebook is probably the most obvious, and seems like a likely candidate, given Mark Zuckerberg's generosity, and his ownership stake in Zynga. Yahoo!, headquartered in Sunnyvale, hasn't signed on either, nor has Cisco, which is headquartered in San Jose, and whose former leadership includes some of the most generous philanthropists in the tech industry

According to Lurie, there have been ten or so tech companies that have declined to participate, though no word on which ones. "For some, they feel like they're doing their own thing: They're giving back [already], and they're involved," he says. "Then, there are others who just fundamentally believe that a company shouldn't be doing philanthropy and that individuals should do it."

It's one thing if the company simply doesn't have the resources, but the campaign also welcomes smaller contributions, and most of the companies we're talking about here are tech giants—ones who could well afford the $500,000 contribution, and who might find the gift well worth it if it helps improve their community relations. 

We'll find out tomorrow if SF Gives reached its $10 million, 20-company target. If not, it could be another black eye for an indsustry long criticized for uncharitability toward the local community, and taking more than it gives back.

 

***UPDATE***

Tipping Point Community has met its $10 million 60 day goal, releasing a full list of the founding members of the SF Gives Campaign, which will also serve as its sterring committee. Members include Apple, Box, Dropbox, Google, IfOnly, Jawbone, Jelly, Levi Strauss & Co., LinkedIn, Lookout, Microsoft, Okta, Partner Fund Management, POPSUGAR, RPX Corporation, salesforce.org, SV Angel, Workday Foundation and Zynga. The money will be used by Tipping Point to fund poverty-fighting programs in the Bay Area, focusing on education, employment, and homelessness. SF Gives will also strive to increase individual engagement, and encourage more area businesses to join the cause. Read the press release here