Staff Spotlight: Sindy L. Craig

Sindy L. CraigSVCF is reviving an occasional series in which we present Q&A-style profiles of some of our staff members. In this edition, we feature Sindy L. Craig, director of planned giving.

How long have you been at SVCF? What is your role?

I have been at Silicon Valley Community Foundation since July 2021. I oversee our planned giving program: our fundraising efforts to raise money through estate and trust gifts. Those gifts mainly fund our endowment, which is our permanent fund that provides annual resources to the local community, to meet ever-changing community needs.

I provide philanthropic counsel and consultation services to donors and families. Together, we create and implement lifetime and legacy philanthropic gift plans utilizing donor advised and endowment funds, charitable trusts, estate commitments and other charitable giving solutions to maximize community impact.

What led you to this work?

I have worked in the philanthropy field for about 20 years, half of that in the community foundation space here in the Bay Area. I oversaw all aspects of gift planning, legacy, endowment and nonprofit fund programs at the Jewish Community Federation & Endowment Fund and The San Francisco Foundation, two of the oldest and largest community foundations in the country.

I also have extensive experience working in development for higher education institutions, including leadership fundraising roles in campaigns for The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center and its Health Science Colleges; Kenyon College; and the University of Vermont.

I am a tax attorney by training, so the tax aspects of charitable giving intersect with my work regularly. I have focused my practice on philanthropy because I enjoy helping individuals and families figure out how to have the greatest community impact they can with their philanthropy. That includes their current giving as well as any giving that would intersect with their estate and financial planning.

What excites you most about SVCF’s work?

I’m very committed to the work in the community, especially as that work intersects with racial and social justice. The inequities that we see in our community are grave, and philanthropy can play a role in narrowing that gap. I’m excited to see the re-centering of community as our focus.

We help donors give at the local, state, national and global levels – we really have a very far reach. But ultimately, my work is essential to providing those discretionary grantmaking funds that we have that can pivot to meet community needs in perpetuity. I really enjoy helping people think about that legacy that they’re creating through their philanthropy.

What do you like most about working with the development team at the foundation?

My team is unique in that we work externally – with donors and their advisors – but we also work broadly across the foundation. We collaborate with our grantmaking partners who work with our endowment fund, as well as everyone in finance and donor engagement – the folks  on the front lines with donors. And of course we work with finance, grantmaking and operations to make sure we’re carrying out donor intent.

What are your biggest hopes and dreams for the future of Silicon Valley?

I hope we can create lasting impact for the community by building our endowment. Gifts through estate plans are a key way to do that. I hope we can be a good partner to the community.

What do you most like to do outside of work?

I love dogs and hiking. I have an Alaskan malamute named Honey, and I spend a lot of time trying to keep her busy and active. I love anything I can do outside – that’s one of the reasons I love living in the Bay Area.

I also enjoy puzzles, cooking and hosting friends and family – though that’s been on the back burner with COVID.

Who are your heroes?

There are so many! Ruth Bader Ginsburg has been an amazing example for me. I’m a first-generation college student. For me to not only have a law degree but to be able to focus my work in a way that really lifts up the values my family holds dear about helping the community – she personified that. What got me started working in development in education was wanting to ensure that the door to education would be open to others.

What causes or charities do you support and why?

Education is a big one for me. I’m a product of public education, and I think education is such a key building block for increased opportunity, access and equity.

What is something people are surprised to learn about you?

I find tarot and astrology interesting because of their intersection with spirituality. I’m interested in anything related to how people navigate life and the challenges of the journey. I think that’s what brings us together: All of us are looking for answers, trying to understand who we are and what’s our purpose.

Would you like to join the SVCF team? Check out our current job opportunities.

Curious about other staff members? Check out some of our recent Q&A’s, with former Senior Operations Manager Nate Kuerschner and Vice President of Community Partnerships and Learning Avo Makdessian.