Bill Somerville in the San Francisco Chronicle

As I’ve mentioned before, Meredith May is the San Francisco Chronicle’s new full time philanthropy reporter. The philanthropy beat is turning into something that the major papers realize they need to have these days.

Today, May profiles Bill Somerville and briefly references the debate Bill had with Paul Brest at the Tactical Philanthropy Forum:

When it comes to giving away money, Bill Somerville doesn’t mess around.

Quite possibly the Bay Area’s fastest philanthropist, Somerville gives away $5 million a year to fight poverty, granting each proposal he likes within 48 hours…

…Leveraging donations from wealthy Bay Area families who are familiar with his work, Somerville runs his three-person community foundation like a $10 million venture capital firm: taking risks to invest in bright nonprofit leaders and their startup charities…

…Somerville’s main complaint about traditional, top-down community foundations is that they wait for the proposals to come to them instead of searching out innovative charities.

If grantmakers left their offices more, they’d build relationships with nonprofit leaders and discover programs to fund, rather than being passive and possibly missing some of the best chances to have the most philanthropic impact, he says.

You can read the full article here.