Philanthropy Expert’s New Book Spotlights Ordinary Donors’ Stories
AND DONORS SHOULD ASK:
ADVICE FROM A GIVING EXPERT
Does the board you’re thinking about
joining take advantage of the expertise of its members, or is it primarily a
“reporting board” that plays little role
in strategic planning?
What are the annual and longer-term
goals for the charity you’re considering
donating to, and how does the charity
measure whether it is achieving them?
Will you tolerate the failure of some
programs you are supporting if lessons
are learned along the way?
Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen writes in her new book, Giving 2.0, that her mother’s death from cancer was a
tragedy that she transformed into “my life’s greatest blessing—my giving.”
Are you prepared for the controversy
that may result when you take a stand
on an issue? —From Giving 2.0
by Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen
By Ben Gose
PALO ALTO, CALIF.
LAURA ARRILLAGA-ANDREESSEN is the daughter of a billionaire, and she is married to Marc Andreessen, best known as a developer of early
browsers like Netscape, who is fast on
his way to joining the same elite club.
Mrs. Arrillaga-Andreessen is the
family’s “chief philanthropic officer”—
as her husband puts it—who helps to
give some of the wealth away.
In the past 13 years, she has become
one of the nation’s most prodigious philanthropic entrepreneurs. She created
the Silicon Valley Social Venture Fund,
an early example of “venture philanthropy”; pioneered a how-to course on
philanthropy at the Stanford Graduate School of Business; and founded a
fast-growing research center at Stanford that brings together academic researchers with executives of nonprofits
“Someone with her background could
be really complacent,” says Paul Brest,
president of the William and Flora
Hewlett Foundation, who regularly
speaks to Mrs. Arrillaga-Andreessen’s
Stanford classes. “That’s not Laura. She
challenges herself all the time.”
When she was just 25, she lost her
mother, Frances, to cancer.
Mrs. Arrillaga-Andreessen emerged
from the experience with a desire to
match or exceed the community-minded
spirit of her mother, who ran the fam-
ily’s foundation, sat on multiple chari-
ty boards, and cofounded two nonprofit
Several years ago, Mrs. Arrillaga-Andreessen began working on her first
book, an attempt to combine her academic research on foundation grant
making with advice for individuals. But
two years ago, she decided the manuscript she had finished was not the book
she wanted to write. She scrapped it,
took a few months off, and then picked
Her husband, now a venture capitalist, says that she worked seven days a
week over two years on Giving 2.0.
Giving 2.0 is notable for its lack of
star power. It does not include extensive looks at what well-known philanthropists or foundations are doing with
their money. Instead, Mrs. Arrillaga-Andreessen offers profiles of several
“ordinary people with extraordinary
generosity.” She met the donors, who
range in age from 10 to the mid-70s,
through her academic research and her
contacts in the world of philanthropy.
n Hector Chau, an immigrant from
Mexico who lives on a pension, volunteers with a program called Tax-Aide,
where he uses his accounting skills to
help low-income older adults complete
their tax returns.
n Linda Shoemaker, a school-board
member in Boulder, Colo., taps a windfall from the sale of her husband’s company to become an “advocacy philanthropist” seeking to promote better
n Makeba and Damond Boatwright,
a couple in Missouri, settle on a version
of tithing in which they give 10 percent
of their income, but split it between
their church and their favorite charities.
“A primary objective in the book was
redefining what philanthropy is, and
making it as accessible and inclusive
as possible, because giving is a universal opportunity,” Mrs. Arrillaga-Andreessen said in an interview here last
Giving 2.0 covers more ground than
many books of its kind. It has long sections on volunteering, advocacy, and
how and whether to create your own
Mrs. Arrillaga-Andreessen’s multifaceted experience in the nonprofit world,
as both donor and scholar, lends authority to her writing.
“Laura’s odyssey in philanthropy has
been both an intellectual journey and
an experiential journey,” says Sally Os-
berg, president of the Skoll Foundation,
based in Silicon Valley. “That’s what re-
ally makes this book so powerful.”
All of the royalties from the book will
go to a new grants program for innova-
tive charities. Mrs. Arrillaga-Andrees-
sen has promised to provide informa-
tion about the grants program on the
book’s Web site, Giving2.com.
The book also offers a teaser on another significant development: creation
of the Marc and Laura Andreessen
Foundation. In both the book and an
interview, Mrs. Arrillaga-Andreessen
provided few details about the foundation.
The couple doesn’t expect to immediately hire a foundation staff—given
Mrs. Arrillaga-Andreessen’s own expertise—and they aren’t saying how much
money they will contribute to start the
foundation. Mrs. Arrillaga-Andreessen intends to spend the next 12 to 18
months figuring out what the foundation will look like.
“Part of the reason that I’m not rush-
ing into creating a fast and furious
foundation strategy and grant-mak-
ing program is that I aspire to walk
the talk of Giving 2.0 in all of our phi-
lanthropy to come,” she says. “That re-
quires thoughtfulness and research and
It’s hard to overstate the impact that
Frances Arrillaga’s illness and death
has had on her daughter’s career. Mrs.