For at least a week, Marc and Lynne Benioff teased the philanthropic community with an upcoming major gift announcement. Getting as much press out of it as they could, the Salesforce CEO and his wife let it slip that they would be announcing a major donation soon, but did not disclose any details about the size of the donation, or what organization it would be going to.
When the donation was finally announced on Tuesday, however, it didn't come as much of a surprise. Doubling down on what has so far been their largest philanthropic undertaking by far, the Benioffs committed another $100 million to providing health care for kids in Oakland.
The donation matches their 2010 gift of $100 million, which went to create the UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital in Mission Bay, and is scheduled to open February 2015. This latest donation will be split between the UCSF hospital, and Children's Hospital Oakland, which has partnered with UCSF to conduct research and offer comprehensive medical care. Half the new funding will be used to help build a new outpatient center at UCSF Benioff Children's.
"We want to make the investment necessary to really take UCSF to that level where we say we have the best children's hospital in the world," Marc Benioff said. "Not only are we including San Francisco in that vision, we're including Oakland."
According to Mark Laret, CEO of UCSF Medical Center, this new donation will put the the medical centers well on their way to becoming a top 5 institution nationally, both in terms of size, and research activity.
"We both saw an opportunity to really impact the lives of children and their families," said Lynne Benioff, who now sits on the board of both hospitals. "Our biggest dream? One day they would be empty." The Benioffs hope this will spur further philanthropy, and catalyze research into many diseases affecting children, which could benefit not just children in the Bay Area, but worldwide—a good example of thinking locally, and globally, at the same time.
Aside from these major gifts, the Benioffs and the Salesforce Foundation are both very active in Bay Area philanthropy. Organizations that focus on children, health, and poverty, are particularly likely to capitalize on their generosity—the Benioffs themselves make a couple million dollars a year in donations to Bay Area charities, and the Salesforce Foundation has given more than $70 million in cash and in-kind donations since 2002, along with the highly impressive 650,000 volunteer hours by Salesforce employees.