Last fall, the Yahoo Employee Foundation (YEF) announced its largest-ever grant cycle, with almost $4 million available for funding. The foundation funded 77 percent of the applications it received last year, benefiting more than a hundred nonprofits globally.
YEF was founded in 1999 by Yahoo employees, or Yahoos, led by company founders David Filo and Jerry Yang. The foundation provides employees with opportunities to give back to their communities through the grassroots organization. Since its inception, YEF has made over 1000 grants, totaling more than $20 million worth of charitable giving for hundreds of organizations around the world.
The foundation is 100 percent employee-funded, a unique model in the CSR world. The YEF Board is comprised of employee volunteers, and sets the foundation’s grantmaking, fundraising, and community engagement strategies. In other words, Yahoo's philanthropy is a collective effort, with employees in the driver's seat, as opposed to professional corporate foundation staff.
The foundation works in three major areas, including youth and education, family and community building, and the environment.
The foundation goes through two major grant cycles annually. However, YEF’s programs, including fundraising events, auctions, donation drives, and volunteer events, continue year-round. The foundation also makes one-time disaster grants for global emergency situations.
Last year, each of Yahoo’s Employee Resource Groups was able to make grants for organizations related to their interests. The groups included Yahoo Pride, Yahoo Black Network, ERES, Yahoo Veterans, Yahoo Chinese ERG, Yahoo Parenting, Yahoo South Asians, and Women in Tech.
Each group could distribute up to $75,000 to a minimum of three organizations, and four of the ERGs involved participated. YEF’s 2016 grant recipients included the SF AIDS Foundation, LifeWorks, Out in Tech, the Hispanic Foundation of Silicon Valley, Thread, NAACP DuPage Chapter, Dance 411 Foundation, and Fisher house.
Based on last year’s enthusiasm and a growing understanding of how the programs work, Emmy Negrin, the Program Manager, Yahoo For Good and Yahoo Employee Foundation, predicted all 8 ERGs would make grants in 2017.
YEF is also expecting more applications in 2017. You can see why, too, if it funded 77 percent of applications last year. Those are pretty good odds, as any nonprofit fundraiser will tell you.