About PVF

Sparking innovative ideas

forging collaborations

shaping creative grantmaking


Philanthropic Ventures Foundation (PVF), a 501(c)(3) public charity, was founded in 1991 to test new approaches to creative grantmaking and to maximize the impact of the philanthropic dollar. We are proud of our 30 years of advancing philanthropy.

Our Grantmaking Philosophy

PVF as a Living Lab 

At PVF, we like to test new ideas for grantmaking. We try out theories, keep those that work, discard those that don’t, and share those experiences from our living lab at conferences and with foundations around the country. We are actively creating the future of philanthropy by taking risks and trying out new grantmaking approaches.

Radical Collaboration

Why is it that the circles of high tech companies, grassroots community organizations, venture funds, and foundations rarely intersect? What if all of these circles could join together to reinvent philanthropy? We are connecting the dots through radical collaboration to tackle the Bay Area’s Inequality Gap.

Grassroots Grantmaking

Much of our giving is grassroots, where we feel we can create the most change. We have more than 31 years of expertise that we leverage to find and fund the most outstanding local leaders as well as immediately respond to the needs of our communities. At the grassroots level, we are able to fund based on trust and the relationships we forge.

Paperless Giving

We began PVF to do something different — to bring joy, simplicity, trust and effectiveness to grantmaking. We knew the answer was not more — more paper, more procedures, more obstacles, more time. We believed that if giving grants involved fewer, simpler processes, every dollar would work harder and do more. This is why we fund people, not paper.

Tackling the Inequality Gap

The inequality gap is widening in the Bay Area.  We are starting to see a tale of two cities unfolding before our eyes, as the gulf widens between the haves and the have-nots. We believe that connecting the dots to find exceptional entrepreneurial leaders and acting in a streamlined, unrivaled, immediate response is the PVF way to make a dent in the inequality gap.

Find ‘Em and Fund ‘Em

Our approach to grantmaking – in which we take more risks – brings about greater innovation and impact. A key part of our approach is finding and investing in people instead of problems. There is nothing more exciting than finding the emerging generation of community leaders and giving them a chance to soar. The risk-taking dollar is the entrepreneurial dollar in philanthropy.

Our Impact

100 +
Number of donors who achieve their philanthropic goals through our Donor Venture Fund services.
48 hours
Amount of time in which we give grants through our unique "immediate response" model.
$ 187 million
Given to projects and grassroots organizations in the San Francisco Bay Area and worldwide.
400 +
Number of community foundations we have consulted at in the United States, Canada and Europe.
Number of Bay Area foundations we have collaborated with to set up and administer creative programs.
425 +
Number of charitable initiatives that began their work through our Designated Fund services.
Top banner photo credit: Craig Sherod

“PVF is a central part of a story I tell over and over: how, when I was first starting out, Pogo Park needed a $5,500 match to secure a $30,000 grant. Fifteen minutes after meeting us and hearing what we were doing and what we needed, you just blurted out ‘We’ll give you $5,500!’ and the check came a week later.”


– Toody Maher, Executive Director of Pogo Park in Richmond