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 http://www.acs-teens.org/
ALearn http://alearn.org/
America SCORES Bay Area https://www.americascoresbayarea.org/
American Red Cross https://www.redcross.org/
Art in Action http://artinaction.org/
Asian Health Services https://asianhealthservices.org/
Bal Raksha Bharat (Save the Children India) https://www.savethechildren.in/
Best Buddies International https://www.bestbuddies.org/
Black Girls Code http://www.blackgirlscode.com/
Blue Planet Network/ Thrive Networks https://blueplanetnetwork.org/
Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation https://www.lungcancerfoundation.org/
Boys Town http://www.boystown.org/Pages/default.aspx
Canine Companions for Independence http://www.cci.org/
Cascade AIDS Project http://www.cascadeaids.org/
Center for Environmental Health http://www.ceh.org/
Centrepoint Soho https://centrepoint.org.uk/
Choral Arts Ensemble of Portland http://www.portlandschoir.org/
City Harvest https://www.cityharvest.org/
CORA (Community Overcoming Relationship Abuse) https://www.corasupport.org/
Court Appointed Special Advocates http://www.casaforchildren.org/
DC Central Kitchen https://dccentralkitchen.org/
Doctors Without Borders http://www.doctorswithoutborders.org/
Don Moyer Boys and Girls Club http://dmbgc.org/
Early Alert Canines http://www.earlyalertcanines.org/
Eastern Illinois Foodbank https://eifoodbankorg.presencehost.net/
Elevate Tutoring http://elevatetutoring.org/web/
Family Supportive  Housing http://familysupportivehousing.org/
Figure Skating in Harlem https://figureskatinginharlem.org/
First Exposures/ Tides Center https://www.firstexposures.org/
Fisher House Foundation https://www.fisherhouse.org/
Fontenelle Forest http://www.fontenelleforest.org/
Food Forward https://foodforward.org/
Foundation for College Education http://www.collegefoundation.org/
Foundation for Students Rising Above https://studentsrisingabove.org/
God's Love We Deliver https://www.glwd.org/
GRID Alternatives https://www.gridalternatives.org/
Habitat for Humanity of Champaign County http://cuhabitat.org/
Habitat for Humanity of Omaha https://habitatomaha.org/
Hack the Hood/ Center for Media Change http://www.hackthehood.org/
Hamilton Families https://hamiltonfamilies.org/
Hearts United for Animals http://www.hua.org/
Hispanic Foundation of Silicon Valley http://www.hfsv.org/
Hope Services http://www.hopeservices.org/
Humane Society Silicon Valley http://www.hssv.org/
Inspiration Corporation http://www.inspirationcorp.org/
Kitchen Table Advisors/ Trust for Conservation Innovation http://www.kitchentableadvisors.org/
Law Foundation of Silicon Valley http://www.lawfoundation.org/
Leukemia & Lymphoma Society http://www.lls.org/
Little Kids Rock http://www.littlekidsrock.org/
Loved Twice http://lovedtwice.org/
Mouse_California/ AspiraNet http://www.mouseca.org/
Muddy Paws Second Chance Rescue http://www.muddypawssecondchancerescue.com/
My New Red Shoes http://www.mynewredshoes.org/
NAMI (National Alliance of Mental Illness) Santa Cruz County http://www.namiscc.org/
NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) Santa Clara County http://www.namisantaclara.org/
Omaha Area Youth Orchestra http://oayo.org/
Open Door Mission http://www.opendoormission.org/
Overseas Volunteer For a Better India https://www.overseasvbi.org/
Parents Helping Parents http://www.php.com/
Parikrma Humanity Foundation http://parikrmahumanityfoundation.org/
Pets in Need http://www.petsinneed.org/
Playworks http://www.playworks.org/
Project Inform https://www.projectinform.org/
QLI - Quality Living Inc. https://www.qliomaha.com/
Reading to Kids http://www.readingtokids.org/Home/main.php
Resource Area for Teachers http://www.raft.net/
Ronald McDonald House Charities https://www.rmhc.org/
Samaritan House http://samaritanhousesanmateo.org/
San Francisco AIDS Foundation http://sfaf.org/
Sankara Eye Foundation https://www.giftofvision.org/
Santa Clara City Library Foundation and Friends http://www.lovethelibrary.org/
Senior Adults Legal Assistance http://www.sala.org/
SF-Marin Food Bank https://www.sfmfoodbank.org/
Sunnyvale Community Services http://svcommunityservices.org/
Symphony Silicon Valley http://www.symphonysiliconvalley.org/
Teens Exploring Technology/ Community Partners http://exploringtech.org/
The Big Lift/ Silicon Valley Community Foundation http://www.thebiglift.org/
The Tech Museum of Innovation https://www.thetech.org/
The Trevor Project http://www.thetrevorproject.org/
VNHELP http://vnhelp.org/
Voices College-Bound Language Academies http://voicesacademies.org/
World Bicycle Relief https://worldbicyclerelief.org/en/

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.

YEF

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 Donate@siliconvalleycf.org.