About PVF > Advancing Philanthropy


PVF strives to be a model for the philanthropic community, demonstrating new concepts in giving and disseminating information about its experiences to colleagues across the country and abroad.

In the last twenty years, PVF has consulted with over 400 community and family foundations in the United States, Canada and Europe. The focus is on creative grantmaking, streamlined operations and community impact. The following is a summary of PVF's consulting services:

Grantmaking Consulting - Three-day visits involve meeting with foundation board, grants committee, foundation staff, and executive director. Review and analysis of foundation operations, grant making procedures and public relations. Also included are meetings with donors, interviews with local media, and meetings with local non-profit organizations.

Performance Review - Intensive four-day onsite review of all foundation operations, focusing on grantmaking, Board concerns, administration, staffing, development and fiscal health. Visit is followed by an extensive written report on findings and recommendations.  The days are full and intense with the result being new enthusiasm, new expectations and new ideas.

Board Retreats - Facilitating Board Retreats, for one-half day to full day. Work through issues facing foundations, including growth, community outreach, and grantmaking.  Results of retreats include critique of foundation's work, new insights for change and recommendations for the future.

If you are interested in utilizing PVF's consulting services, please contact Bill Somerville at (510) 645-1890 or bsomerville@venturesfoundation.org


“You have caused us to rethink some very fundamental issues. Your ideas on grants are excellent and I think we will change the direction of our foundation. We have been missing the excitement that should be a fundamental part of giving.” — J. Kane Ditto, Board Member, Community Foundation of Greater Jackson, Jackson, Mississippi

“The Scottish Community Foundation has never been the same since Bill Somerville came to help us. We are bigger and better, yet quicker on our feet and we have many, many donors.” – Alan Hobbett, former Executive Director, The Scottish Community Foundation

“Bill Somerville is an energetic and tireless ‘servant’ of our field. Many, many years ago, Bill came to Indiana for a session with staff and board of about four community foundations. Many of Bill’s suggestions were taken at that time and have become truly our culture of access and no red tape!” – Sandy Daniels, President and CEO, Johnson County Community Foundation, Franklin, Indiana


When PVF donors have ideas for programs they would like to see implemented in the community, PVF works with them to formulate a giving program from the idea, then administers the program for them.

For example, when Susan Ford Dorsey wanted to create a program to honor her late husband, Tom Ford, PVF designed two programs: the Tom Ford Fellowship Program — one-year internships for Stanford graduates in U.S. philanthropic foundations related to the fellows' interests and experiences; and the Sand Hill Fellowship Program — intensive full-time summer internships for Stanford undergraduates at local foundations. These programs are in their tenth year of continued funding by the Sand Hill Foundation, and are managed by PVF in collaboration with Stanford University’s Haas Center for Public Service.

“I am proud of the Tom Ford Fellows and the Sand Hill Fellows Programs at Haas Center for Public Service. I credit PVF with the wonderful idea and for your hard work to get them set up. Thank you for helping to continue Tom’s legacy.” – Susan Ford Dorsey

"The Tom Ford Fellowship is a wholly unique and invaluable experience of immersion into the philanthropic sector.  Due to the traditions persisting in an old field, it often takes structured opportunities such as fellowships to allow young people a meaningful point of entry into philanthropy.  It is difficult to imagine where else I would have been able to interact with such a wealth of diverse individuals, from professionals, academics, policy makers, pastors and teachers to low-income workers, social entrepreneurs and youth organizers. Foundations are fertile ground for breeding exciting partnerships, and progressive frameworks to resolve age-old dilemmas." - Patricia Soung, 2001 Tom Ford Fellow

Bill Somerville