Silicon Valley Community Foundations Consider Merger

Silicon Valley Community Foundations Consider Merger

The Community Foundation Silicon Valley (CFSV) in San Jose and the San Mateo-based Peninsula Community Foundation are considering a merger that would create one of the nation's biggest community foundations, the San Jose Mercury News reports.

A study by consulting firm McKinsey & Co. encourages the foundations' boards to "explore opportunities for increased collaboration, including the possibility of full integration." According to the study, a successful merger, which would create an organization with $1.35 billion in assets, could provide a boost to local charities that have struggled in recent years. Before the two foundations move forward with a partnership that would extend their reach and donor base, however, executives at both must decide which organization will have the most influence in the relationship, whose name the combined entity should take, and where the new foundation should be based.

Still, the timing may be right. Last year, Peninsula Community Foundation CEO Sterling Speirn left the organization to head up the W.K. Kellogg Foundation in Battle Creek, Michigan. And people close to CFSV say that 62-year-old Peter Hero, the head of the foundation since 1989 and one of the luminaries of Silicon Valley philanthropy, has been considering a change. Because the merged entity would most likely want a CEO who is identified with the new organization rather than either of the two existing foundations, Hero most likely would be asked to take a new role. "It is not uncommon when two organizations merge for the organization to bring in a new leader," said Molly Polidoroff, executive director of the Milpitas-based Center for Excellence in Nonprofits. "That in no way reflects negatively on Peter.'"

Whatever the outcome, some valley philanthropy leaders predict good things for the two foundations. "They're on a very positive path and regardless of where that path leads, I think both organizations — or a new organization — will be the stronger for it and will be better for the community," said Sally Osberg, president of the San Francisco-based Skoll Foundation.

Sal Pizarro. "Foundations Head for Merger." San Jose Mercury News 05/04/2006.