When I decided this year that I had to turn my attention to fundraising, I first thought: Marc Benioff. Yes, pathetically unoriginal, but as Allen Ginsberg once wrote, “first thought best thought.” After all, doesn’t the Foundation Guide call Benioff “the Outspoken CEO Who Gives Big?”
As with so many foundations, you have to be invited to apply to the Salesforce Foundation. Ugh. Another club to get into. I’ve worked at The New York Times and scored tenure at Berkeley, but even those illustrious institutions offer more guidance to those on the outside looking in.
Did I know anyone on the board? No, of course not. Why aren’t I more social? Why don’t I hobnob, make connections? Well, if I could afford to join the right clubs, I wouldn’t need $200,000, would I? Best to be direct and ask Benioff how to score an invite.
Amazingly, he returns my email within the hour! He CCs Ebony Frelix, his chief philanthropy officer, and soon we have a call set up for the following week. I’m giddy with anticipation. This is going to be so easy.
But I don’t take anything for granted — after all, that’s not how I got to the NYT and Berkeley. Over the next three days, I watch YouTube videos of Frelix describing the foundation’s strategy. I toil over a three-page backgrounder. An illustrator adds drawings. My multimedia advisor formats the pages. The document is to die for.
I send it off. Visions of $200,000 in bills dance in my head.
Next Week, Part II. In the meantime, give early and often
Upstart: The same (trying to raise money) but different (Mission Local is a nonprofit). Tuesday, June 18, 2019.