On Friday, Salesforce.com announced a partnership with Tipping Point Community, a leading poverty-fighting organization in the Bay Area, to launch SF Gives, an initiative to build a coalition of twenty companies willing to commit at least $500,000 each to the fight against poverty. Benioff and Tipping Point, which will distribute the money among the human service organizations in its portfolio, already have secured more than $5 million in commitments from a range of firms, including LinkedIn, Google, Zynga, PopSugar, IfOnly, Jawbone, and Box. Benioff told the Chronicle he hopes to eventually expand the program to $100 million and inspire his peers and colleagues in the tech industry to see local philanthropy as a part of a company's DNA, rather than an afterthought to be addressed after they've accumulated wealth.
The announcement follows a recent gift of $6.8 million from Google to fund free Muni passes for local youth of modest means over the next two years — a gift that city officials hope will catalyze additional giving from tech companies in the region to benefit low- and middle-income families. Salesforce.com is well known in corporate philanthropy circles for its pledge to donate 1 percent of its equity, 1 percent of its employees' time, and 1 percent of its products to charity, while Benioff and his wife, Lynne, made a $100 million gift to the UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital in 2010. With sf.citi founder Ron Conway, Benioff also has publicly supported efforts designed to make it more difficult for real estate speculators in the Bay Area to evict tenants in order to "flip" rental units to developers.
"We have to keep a light on this idea that if you come to San Francisco, you need to also be committed to giving back," said Benioff, a native San Franciscan. "You can't just take from our city. You can't just come here from another city, another state, another country, start a company, take advantage of all of our resources — and then leave with all of your money that you created....Now is the time that we have to make it crystal clear that tech is an industry that not only adds value through innovation, it adds value through philanthropy."