NET WORTH: $4.8 billion
SOURCE OF WEALTH: Salesforce.com
FUNDING AREAS: Healthcare, Education, SF Community
OVERVIEW: Along with his wife Lynne, Marc Benioff has been a major donor to Bay Area hospitals. He also advocates for greater support from the tech community for education and anti-poverty programs. Additionally, through Salesforce Foundation, he is a leading pioneer in corporate philanthropy.
BACKGROUND: Marc Benioff started his first software company at the age of 15 while he was a student at Burlingame High School in California. He attended USC and later he worked at Oracle. When he founded his pioneering cloud computing software company, Salesforce.com, in 1999 he simultaneously created the Salesforce Foundation.
SALESFORCE FOUNDATION: 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 generated a lot of attention when he suggested that those fortunate enough to become rich should give their money away now, rather than to wait until they are finished making money to figure out what to do with it. Here is 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. Salesforce has provided over $115 million in grant funding to date and has given access to Salesforce technology to over 28,000 charitable and nonprofit organizations and donated more than 1.3 million employee volunteer hours.
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.
HEALTH & HUMAN SERVICES: Since 2010, Benioff and Lynne have donated at least $250 million to local children's hospitals. Mission Bay is home to UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital. Benioff his a trustee of his alma mater USC where the couple recently gave $20 million toward construction of the Lawrence J. Ellison Institute for Transformative Medicine of USC, a "new center in Los Angeles that will combine interdisciplinary research with the holistic prevention and treatment of cancer."
Benioff also pledged $10 million in matching funds towards the Heading Home campaign to help 800 homeless families in the Bay Area. Salesforce separately made $2 million in grants.
LOOKING FORWARD: The Benioffs have focused their emerging personal philanthropy on issues like children’s health and homelessness. The billionaire couple should be watched for increased grantmaking in the future.
Suzanne DiBianca, President Salesforce Foundation, firstname.lastname@example.org