Q&A with Chris Wilder: VMC Foundation leader on advancing community health and working with SVCF

Chris Wilder

Chris Wilder
VMC Foundation

Through its Nonprofit Investment Program, SVCF helps more than 80 nonprofit organizations fulfill their missions. NPIP supports its partners through a set of services, chief among them being investment management. For organizations that choose to establish a nonprofit fund, SVCF manages the assets and reserves to ensure the partner organization can continue to serve the community for years to come.

“We help nonprofit organizations steward their assets, and SVCF’s investment portfolio and expertise is a real advantage to our partners,” said Michelle Fries, director of the Nonprofit Investment Program at SVCF. “In addition, we offer other best-practice support that extends beyond investments, and we provide regular opportunities for participants to learn and network.”

In the Q&A below, SVCF spoke with Chris Wilder, CEO of the Valley Medical Center (VMC) Foundation. He addressed the important work being done by his organization to protect the health and well-being of Silicon Valley residents, and spoke about how the foundation he leads has benefited from participating in SVCF’s Nonprofit Investment Program.

SVCF: Tell us about the work of the Valley Medical Center (VMC) Foundation. What are you most proud of in terms of serving the community?

Chris Wilder:We’re so proud to support the only hospital in Silicon Valley that cares for anyone, regardless of anything about their situation. Beyond the medical center itself, we also work to advance health in the community. We’ve started a farmers market and literacy programs, we provide bikes to kids in low-income families and so much more – all in the name of better health and wellness.

Like SVCF, we’ve also been involved in efforts to solve large-scale problems in our region. 2016’s Measure A campaign was a great example of the nonprofit community coming together to impact the homelessness crisis, and our collective effort resulted in the voters approving nearly $1 billion for supportive and affordable housing. Impacting the health of Silicon Valley in as many ways as we can — that’s a point of great pride for the VMC Foundation.

How and when did the VMC Foundation begin working with SVCF? How has this partnership evolved over time?

The VMC Foundation occasionally receives large donations that are spent down over time. A dozen years ago, that situation allowed us to consider an investment vehicle to hold some of our restricted dollars. Two of our board members, Joe Parisi and John A. Sobrato, recommended we open a fund with the community foundation. We were well familiar with the work of SVCF, so taking Joe and John’s good advice was an easy decision for our board to make.

How has the Nonprofit Investment Partner program supported and/or benefited the VMC Foundation?

Obviously, the investment returns and stability are greatly beneficial, and have kept our discretionary pool of dollars robust. This has meant that we could engage in large initiatives like Measure A last year and other Santa Clara County measures over the past decade that relate to our mission.

It’s hard to put a value on the “seat at the table” that our participation in the NPIP program has afforded us. We’ve learned how to better manage our finances by attending offered seminars. We’ve celebrated SVCF milestones and successes. We’ve grown as we’ve watched SVCF grow, and have developed a robust strategic partnership over the years.

Can you share an example of an experience that was especially valuable?

One of the most valuable experiences is also the most recent: We were invited to participate in the two-day ethics training presented by the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University. In partnership with the Standards for Excellence at the Markkula Center, the VMC Foundation is now on the path for accreditation based on those standards. We are excited at the prospect of earning recognition as an organization with the highest level of ethics in all that we do.

What would you say to other nonprofits that are considering being part of the Nonprofit Investment Partners?

Any nonprofit with the means and reserves would benefit from NPIP. The team at SVCF is world-class, their investment management partners are top-tier, and being part of the most respected community foundation in the nation is uniquely valuable. This was among the best decisions our board ever made.

Anything else you’d like to share?

Every partnership between agencies is really a relationship between people. SVCF is not just an institution; it’s a terrific group of professionals who believe in what they do, and believe in what we do. Our interactions, therefore, are more than beneficial. They are inspiring and fun.