The David and Lucile Packard Foundation and the Heising-Simons Foundation announce the recipients of the Giving Code Experimentation and Learning Grants

January 19, 2018 (Los Altos, CA) – The David and Lucile Packard Foundation and the Heising-Simons Foundation have announced the recipients of the Giving Code Experimentation and Learning Grants, which include 20 local nonprofits serving Silicon Valley’s diverse residents. Last year, the foundations created a donor-advised fund within the Los Altos Community Foundation to support projects that help build connections between nonprofits and philanthropists. In December, the recipients were finalized, and $809,452 was awarded to local organizations responding to challenges and opportunities identified in the Giving Code report.

The Giving Code, a groundbreaking report on philanthropy and nonprofits in Silicon Valley, revealed that despite the region’s astounding growth in philanthropic giving, local community-based organizations are struggling to keep up with a rising demand for services, pay office rent, and retain employees. This makes it even harder for these organizations to address the long list of complex issues they strive to tackle, including homelessness and poverty.

The report helpfully identified several reasons why this gap in giving exists, including that there are very few intermediaries between nonprofits and philanthropists, nonprofits lack knowledge and information about philanthropists’ goals, and nonprofit leaders and potential donors operate in different social networks.

Driven by these findings, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation and the Heising-Simons Foundation created the Experimentation and Learning Grants, a donor-advised fund within the Los Altos Community Foundation. The fund supports short-term projects that experiment with new ways of engaging philanthropists and bridging gaps in knowledge, networks, and mindsets between local philanthropy and nonprofits. Projects range from research into how nonprofits can best articulate their impact, to forums for wealth advisors and trainings for nonprofits, to events and videos that better help connect donors to the impact of their donations.

“The Giving Code’s findings demonstrated that we need to take action to help build stronger connections between local nonprofits and funders. We view these grants as the first step in that process,” said Irene Wong, director of the Local Grantmaking program at the David and Lucile Packard Foundation. “We also hope that the work of these grantees will inform our efforts moving forward.” added Holly Kreider, Local and Emerging Opportunities program officer at the Heising-Simons Foundation.

Below is a full list of the organizations along with a brief description of their projects’ goals:

Acterra: Action for a Healthy Planet

Convene a group of philanthropists, civic and community leaders, elected representatives, and directors of environmental CBOs for a one-and-a-half-day summit.

Boys & Girls Club of the Peninsula

Determine the most effective tools, methods, and messaging for educating and communicating with philanthropists about the Theory of Change process and impact.

Child Advocates of Silicon Valley Inc.

Utilize technology to connect with the local donor community, identify means to engage local corporations and their employees, and identify key ways to reach the next generation of donors and volunteers.

East Palo Alto Kids Foundation

Conduct demographic research in target communities, implement social media and community outreach and listening workshops, and capture and share findings via a multi-media campaign.

JobTrain Inc.

Update data in the Broken Pathway report, increase donors’ understanding of the needs in the community, communicate using the terminology of the philanthropic social sector, and share data and stories at a donor convening.

Kitchen Table Advisors (Trust for Conservation Innovation is the fiscal sponsor)

Enlist 10-15 current volunteer champions to co-host and co-produce three trial donor engagement events: 1 family focused and 2 weekday lunches around thoughtful conversation and problem solving around social issues.


Host four dinners in Silicon Valley to discuss the role of media in Silicon Valley with the purpose of increasing participants’ philanthropic support of public media, and involving donors in the discussion about broad Silicon Valley social issues.

Opportunity Fund Northern California

Conduct a pilot project to engage a steering committee of 8-10 successful women to leverage their guidance and expertise to test a first-ever targeted digital marketing strategy to deliver capital and advising to 100 women entrepreneurs.

Palo Alto Art Center Foundation

Through a series of design thinking workshops, deepen the understanding of what new donors are looking for in their philanthropic investments, consider who might comprise the Arts Center’s target audience among philanthropists, and ultimately create, implement, and assess two new initiatives.

Peninsula Open Space Trust

Implement a marketing automation system to efficiently and effectively deliver a customized donor experience in the digital world, helping illuminate how technology can be used to increase donor engagement while containing costs.

Planned Parenthood Mar Monte, Inc.

Build community among current and potential young supporters through in-person and online strategies, utilizing the newly formed Young Professionals Committee and piloting new models of events and social media communication.

Sacred Heart Community Service

Build an education curriculum that includes opportunities to work alongside those in poverty, immersion activities, and facilitated dialogue where participants and SHCS leaders can share perspectives and improve communication.

Silicon Valley Children’s Fund

Launch a new three-step individual donor cultivation strategy by providing flexible, accessible volunteer activities, creating new marketing materials using the language and mindset of business, and establishing a new social network of Silicon Valley professionals to address foster youth employment issues.

Silicon Valley Community Foundation, Center for Early Learning

Audit early childhood-related grants, both to help inform new philanthropists of the value of investing in early childhood programs and to inform the early childhood nonprofit field as to barriers in appealing to new philanthropists when it comes to investing in early childhood causes.

Silicon Valley Council of Nonprofits

Hold forums for wealth advisors and training for nonprofit organizations to bridge the gaps in giving as outlined in The Giving Code, seeking to build new pathways of giving between high net worth individuals and local nonprofit organizations in need of financial support.

The Stanford Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society

Test a hypothesis that Silicon Valley donors are more likely to donate to local nonprofits that present well-articulated plausible responses to the Charting Impact questions typical of nonprofit information websites, in order to make recommendations for how Bay Area nonprofits can communicate about their work effectively.

The Trust for Hidden Villa

Cultivate donors through a series of programs around food production and preparation that culminate in a community-based event, the facilitation of forums and discussions centered on sustainable food and self-sufficiency, and the creation of an online farmers market inspired forum.


Create a communications and engagement strategy that activates and sustains millennial interest and leverages existing programming to inspire program attendance and philanthropic participation.

YMCA of Silicon Valley

Produce four videos, develop peer to peer fundraising tools and templates, and provide opportunities for donors to see gifts in action and participate in impact events.

YWCA of Silicon Valley

Host five bridge circles to engage new philanthropists in exploring ideas to address homelessness of domestic violence victims, and to share their current systems change work.

For more information, contact:

  • Karen Kudelko, Communications Officer at the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, (650) 917-7142 or
  • Nondas Paschos, Communications Officer at the Heising-Simons, (650) 861-8452 or