SVCF partner: Yahoo Employee Foundation and its 18-year legacy

A founder, a golden lab and a legacy walk through the door. Not a joke, but a reflection of a celebration that occurred on July 21, 2017, at Silicon Valley Community Foundation. An innovative idea by Yahoo founders David Filo and Jerry Yang back in 1999 turned into 18 years of meaningful social impact, thousands of engaged Yahoo employees and a legacy in the nonprofit community.  

YEF: A Unique Model

YEFAfter making Yahoo! nearly synonymous with the Internet itself, David Filo and a team of Yahoo employees partnered with Silicon Valley Community Foundation (SVCF) to create the Yahoo Employee Foundation (YEF). YEF gave Yahoo employees a way to give back to their communities. Whereas most CSR initiatives run as a corporate sponsored program, YEF was funded by, and led by employee volunteers. Comprised of professionals from across the company, the YEF board set the strategy for grantmaking, fundraising and engagement. Board members learned from SVCF best practices in corporate giving, employee engagement and how to become more effective philanthropists.

The Process of Giving

YEF committed to let employees drive the grant process. Employees nominated their favorite causes and convinced their peers why they were important. SVCF trained volunteers on how to evaluate proposals, review the financial health of a nonprofit organization and assess the impact the grant could have on the organization and its programs. This unique model gave employees a voice to champion causes they cared about most, as they learned about grantmaking process. YEF helped employees work with the organizations, sharing skills and ideas. By empowering the employees to run the process, YEF developed the trusted reputation that it served the employees interests, and was much more than corporate marketing or giving to the most popular causes of the day.

Grant rounds ranged in size and scope, but the most popular was called “choice.” After providing a short passion statement employees encouraged their coworkers to vote. Hundreds of employees were talking about and reading about important local causes that impacted people all around them. A small donation enabled employees to vote for causes that resonated most strongly with them. Choice grants were small, but many organizations, without having to go through a rigorous application process, were able to get a general support grant if they got enough votes. This way, there were many winners, and lots of awareness.

YEF also ran grant rounds designed to drive engagement and demonstrate support to affinity groups such as the Yahoo Black Network, Pride LGBTQ, Latinos Unidos and Veterans employee resource groups (ERGs). YEF encouraged ERGs to find nonprofits that serve their affiliate communities. This partnership helped ERGs give back to their communities and allowed YEF to grant to underrepresented communities.

A Lasting Legacy

As 2017 began, Yahoo faced a pending acquisition and uncertainty about its future. The YEF board partnered with SVCF to plan for a lasting legacy that celebrated the thousands of donors, hundreds of grantees, and the millions of dollars raised and granted over the years. YEF identified over 80 outstanding and impactful organizations that were long-term YEF partners. These organizations reflected concerns across the spectrum around the world. YEF, through its corporate advised fund, gave these deserving organization grants that represented the love and hope that every employee invested into YEF. No applications required, no strings attached but a legacy gift to pay it forward. The legacy was gratitude, a generous check, and the hope that the hard work of the past paves the way for a better future. In June 2017, Yahoo’s operating company was sold, but the YEF legacy lives on.

YEF Legacy Grants  
Organization Name Website
Adolescent Counseling Services
America SCORES Bay Area
American Red Cross
Art in Action
Asian Health Services
Bal Raksha Bharat (Save the Children India)
Best Buddies International
Black Girls Code
Blue Planet Network/ Thrive Networks
Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation
Boys Town
Canine Companions for Independence
Cascade AIDS Project
Center for Environmental Health
Centrepoint Soho
Choral Arts Ensemble of Portland
City Harvest
CORA (Community Overcoming Relationship Abuse)
Court Appointed Special Advocates
DC Central Kitchen
Doctors Without Borders
Don Moyer Boys and Girls Club
Early Alert Canines
Eastern Illinois Foodbank
Elevate Tutoring
Family Supportive  Housing
Figure Skating in Harlem
First Exposures/ Tides Center
Fisher House Foundation
Fontenelle Forest
Food Forward
Foundation for College Education
Foundation for Students Rising Above
God's Love We Deliver
GRID Alternatives
Habitat for Humanity of Champaign County
Habitat for Humanity of Omaha
Hack the Hood/ Center for Media Change
Hamilton Families
Hearts United for Animals
Hispanic Foundation of Silicon Valley
Hope Services
Humane Society Silicon Valley
Inspiration Corporation
Kitchen Table Advisors/ Trust for Conservation Innovation
Law Foundation of Silicon Valley
Leukemia & Lymphoma Society
Little Kids Rock
Loved Twice
Mouse_California/ AspiraNet
Muddy Paws Second Chance Rescue
My New Red Shoes
NAMI (National Alliance of Mental Illness) Santa Cruz County
NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) Santa Clara County
Omaha Area Youth Orchestra
Open Door Mission
Overseas Volunteer For a Better India
Parents Helping Parents
Parikrma Humanity Foundation
Pets in Need
Project Inform
QLI - Quality Living Inc.
Reading to Kids
Resource Area for Teachers
Ronald McDonald House Charities
Samaritan House
San Francisco AIDS Foundation
Sankara Eye Foundation
Santa Clara City Library Foundation and Friends
Senior Adults Legal Assistance
SF-Marin Food Bank
Sunnyvale Community Services
Symphony Silicon Valley
Teens Exploring Technology/ Community Partners
The Big Lift/ Silicon Valley Community Foundation
The Tech Museum of Innovation
The Trevor Project
Voices College-Bound Language Academies
World Bicycle Relief

Legacy Event

On Friday, July 21, at Silicon Valley Community Foundation headquarters in Mountain View, California, YEF volunteers, Yahoo co-founder David Filo, the current board and many nonprofit partners gathered to celebrate. The event marked the end of Yahoo Employee Foundation and it served as a moment to thank the nonprofit community, its partners and the Yahoo employees who invested in this unique corporate program. Over its term, YEF donated $44 million to 784 nonprofits; from local Bay Area organizations to national nonprofits and non-governmental organizations abroad. YEF responded to foreign and domestic disasters with emergency funding, and invested in the causes employees cared about most, including animal welfare, environment, family & community building, and youth & education. The program closed inspiring us to carry the YEF legacy wherever we go.


Pictured Above: The final YEF executive board; Lawson the dog accepting the grant on behalf of YEF grantee Canine Companions; Co-founder David Filo addressing the crowd at the YEF legacy event

For more information on how SVCF can help your organization engage its employees in support of stronger communities please contact us at