Tactical Philanthropy in the San Francisco Chronicle

The San Francisco Chronicle used the phase “tactical philanthropy” on the front page of the paper yesterday.

Interest blossoms in point-click philanthropy

Several times a year, Heidi Hess and James Rucker of San Francisco go online, PayPal style, and redirect their wealth to their favorite charities.

They are tactical philanthropists – part of a growing group of socially conscious givers in the Bay Area whose generosity accounts for more than half the $1 billion in assets at the San Francisco Foundation.

…Tactical philanthropy is part of the personality of the Bay Area, and the state as a whole. Four of the nation’s 10 largest community foundations call California home – those in San Francisco, Marin County, Silicon Valley and Los Angeles – accounting for one-third of the combined $16 billion in assets on the national top 10 list.

… A growing number of donations is coming from the newest philanthropists – the socially conscious dot-com riche.

Tech millionaires are coming of age and are now ready to give back, but they want the same control over their giving as they had with their startups, said Sean Stannard-Stockton, director of tactical philanthropy for Ensemble Capital Management in Burlingame.

“You look at Warren Buffett and Bill Gates – the big story is not how much they gave, but that Gates, at 50, decided he had something more important to do than run Microsoft,” Stannard-Stockton said. “Philanthropy is a higher calling.”

The story comes from Meredith May, the newly appointed “philanthropy reporter” at the San Francisco Chronicle. She’ll now be covering the space in depth and on a regular basis.

While I coined the phrase Tactical Philanthropy in 2006 and own copyright on the term, I’ve always wanted to see it enter common usage. Before I started this blog, the phrase “strategic philanthropy” was widely used. My thinking was that by definition, if you have strategy you must have tactics. Neither is more important than the other, but I feel that historically tactical philanthropy has been given little attention or see as only tax planning. I’m glad to see the idea taking hold and the importance of thinking tactically being recognized as on par with being strategic.