NET WORTH: $4 billion
SOURCE OF WEALTH: Founder of Salesforce.com
FUNDING AREAS: Health care, Education, SF Community
OVERVIEW: Along with his wife Lynne, Benioff has been a major donor in the Bay Area to hospitals, as well as an advocate for greater support from the tech community of education and anti-poverty programs. As well, through Salesforce, he's been a leading pioneer in corporate philanthropy.
BACKGROUND: Benioff began his career as a tech mogul early, having started his first software company at the age of 15 while he was a student at Burlingame High School in California. Later he worked at Oracle. But it was when he founded his pioneering cloud computing software company, Salesforce.com, in 1999 that he found his voice as a philanthropist.
When he founded the company, he simultaneously created the Salesforce Foundation. The foundation has donated some $100 million in grants to social entrepreneurs and nonprofits over the years. Not only that, but Salesforce.com also gives the use of its cloud-based software for free or really cheap to nearly 30,000 nonprofits.
PHILOSOPHY: Marc Benioff is a firm believer in what he refers to as "pay as you go" philanthropy, an idea he has credited to Mata Amritanandamay. He once penned a blog post that turned a lot of heads when he suggested that those fortunate enough to become rich should give their money away now, rather than to wait until they're finished making money to figure out what to do with it. Here's how Benioff explains what he refers to as "pay as you go" or "1/1/1" philanthropy:
...when it comes to philanthropy, I have one pitch, and it's been the same since the founding of our company 13 years ago: the 1/1/1 model of integrated corporate philanthropy. The 1/1/1 model, like Salesforce.com's business model, operates on a "pay as you go" model. When we started Salesforce.com, we took one percent of our equity, one percent of our profit in the form of product donations and one percent of all of our employees' time and put it into a 501(c)(3) public charity.
Benioff goes on to describe his evolution from his days at Oracle, when he believed that he had to wait until he retired to be philanthropic, to his days at Salesforce, when he discovered that he could simultaneously run a company and make a nearly full-on commitment to philanthropy.
A wide variety of nonprofits have received grants from the Salesforce Foundation. Because most Salesforce employees live in the Bay Area, these grants are mainly focused on San Francisco nonprofits, but some grants go out nationally and globally. See the foundation's website for more detailed information about its giving.
Benioff has also been a leader in efforts to raise money for regional antipoverty programs, including an initiative called SF Gives, which raised $10 million.
ISSUES: Since 2010, Benioff and Lynne have donated $250 million to local children's hospitals.
CONTACT: Suzanne DiBianca, President Salesforce Foundation, firstname.lastname@example.org