Introduction and update from Interim President Greg Avis

UPDATED: Wednesday May 2, 2018, 4 p.m. PT

As the interim president of Silicon Valley Community Foundation, I wanted to take the opportunity to provide a brief update after my first two days on the job.

I would like to begin by saying thank you. Thank you to all SVCF employees who for the past few weeks have continued to operate against a backdrop of change and anxiety. Your perseverance and ongoing commitment to provide the best service we can to our donors, partners and beneficiaries has been energizing.

I also want to say thank you to our community. Your patience as we’ve taken on this challenge as an organization has been a real boost. The support you’ve offered to me, the board, and to the dedicated team at SVCF is inspirational and much appreciated.

While it is an honor to have been asked to return to SVCF at this critical juncture to take on a day-to-day leadership role, I am acutely aware of the current challenges our organization faces. I agreed to embrace this opportunity because I, like our staff, donors, and corporate and nonprofit partners, know the essential value and importance of SVCF in our community. SVCF donors were responsible for $1.3 billion being awarded to nonprofit organizations in 2017.

Emerging as a stronger organization is our sole objective. Our strength lies in being an independent organization and while we continue to be in a healthy financial position, it’s critical that our workplace and culture also serve our mission. Our journey continued today when we hosted a Town Hall for all SVCF staff. Our goal was to provide a forum where staff could ask questions and share concerns. While we have much more to do, I felt heartened by this morning’s discussion. One thing is clear – the staff at SVCF are fiercely committed to our mission and deeply invested in the success of the Foundation and all of its partners, donors and stakeholders.  

I’d like to address a number of concerns that we have heard.

First, there are no allegations of financial impropriety at SVCF. All allegations made by former employees and concerns expressed by current employees focus on workplace culture issues. These allegations are being taken very seriously, and the Board has hired outside counsel to investigate. While those issues are absolutely critical to address, and we are fully engaged in doing so, there is no concern about our financial integrity.

Second, we have recently received the voluntary resignation of our Vice President of Talent, Recruitment and Culture. In addition to ensuring the staff has the resources it needs; the Board and I have begun work to fill our open leadership positions as part of our new chapter at SVCF. In the interim, our HR team will continue to manage our HR and recruitment functions while supporting the work of the ongoing investigation.

Lastly, I think it’s important to address a recent piece of news that inaccurately claimed that SVCF has mishandled grants. This is a misrepresentation of the way we operate. At SVCF we pride ourselves on providing a personalized experience for each of our donors. As part of that, we have detailed policies and procedures in place to prevent, identify, correct and manage any error that may occur when processing grants and gifts. All of our teams who handle transactions are trained in this process and as a result, our overall error rate is very low and well within industry standards.

We recognize that there is always room for improvement and a primary focus of the investigation that is currently underway is to ensure that all staff needs are understood and met to enable them to provide the very best service to our constituencies.

The work we do at SVCF is fundamentally important.  It is my job to not only understand the obstacles the organization is currently facing, but to help unite it and enable us to work together to forge solutions so that we can continue to deliver excellent service, advice, and solutions for our constituencies. I chose to step in because of our commitment as an organization to that mission and am excited to work with such a dedicated and talented group of people.

Regards,

Greg Avis