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Marc & Lynne Benioff

Marc & Lynne Benioff

Marc & Lynne Benioff

Amount donated: $198m by the end of 2014

Philanthropic Causes: Children’s health

Region of philanthropic focus: US, specifically San Francisco area

Ranking: Ranked 28th on Forbes America’s 50 Top Givers List and 40th on The Chronicle’s Philanthropy 50 List in 2015

Net Worth: Forbes put Marc’s net worth at more than £3.9bn in 2016

Source of wealth: Cloud computing


Spouses Marc and Lynne Benioff’s giving has earned them 40th place on The Chronicle’s Philanthropy 50 List and 28th position on Forbes America’s 50 Top Givers List. The couple has personally donated over $200m to children’s hospitals, while Marc created the influential 1-1-1 Model of integrated corporate philanthropy that has been adopted by more than 700 other companies. In Marc’s words: The business of business is improving the state of the world”.

Co-founder, chairman and CEO of Salesforce, Marc made his fortune through cloud computing. Born in 1964, Marc grew up in the San Francisco metropolitan area. He started his career in technology while in high school at age 15, creating and selling computer games. The royalties were enough to pay for college. Whilst at the University of Southern California, Marc was inspired by Steve Jobs, having undertaken a programming internship at Apple. He graduated in 1986 with a BSc in Business Administration and joined Oracle Corporation, working there for 13 years and gaining promotion to vice president.

During a sabbatical from Oracle, Marc went to India and had a pivotal meeting with Mata Amritanandamayi, who inspired his philanthropic business model. In his book Behind The Cloud, Marc writes: It was she who introduced me to the idea, and possibility, of giving back to the world while pursuing my career ambitions. I realized that I didn’t have to make a choice between doing business and doing good. I could align these two values and strive to succeed at both simultaneously.”

Marc co-founded Salesforce in 1999 in San Francisco, using the Internet to change the software industry and creating the term “platform as a service”. The company had the vision of creating not only new technology and business models but also a new philanthropic model. The Salesforce Foundation was created and in 2008 was founded as a non-profit reseller of Salesforce, conducting all of Salesforce’s philanthropic activity since 2015.

In line with Salesforce’s mission is to leverage its people, resources and technology to help improve communities around the world, Marc established the 1-1-1 Model of philanthropy from the outset: the company contributes one percent of employee hours, one percent of equity and one percent of product back to the global communities it serves. By 2016, this equated to 1.3 million employee volunteer hours, more than $115 million in grants, and more than 28,000 nonprofits and higher education institutions powered by Salesforce technology. The influential model has become the Pledge 1% movement and has been adopted by more than 700 companies.

Featured in Forbes’ 2016 Global Game Changers List, Marc continually looks ahead, stating: what we’re using today will be obsolete in a few years. The past is never the future.” Company revenues were $6.7bn in 2015 and Marc owns more than 5% of the firm. Marc was presented the Excellence in Corporate Philanthropy Award by the Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy in 2007, and invited to become a director of the board in 2008.

In personal philanthropy, Marc and Lynne donated $54m in 2014. Their total lifetime giving was $198m at that point, representing 5% of net worth, which Forbes puts at $3.9bn in 2016. They have focused their personal giving on children’s health care. For years they gave smaller amounts to different organizations, including a hospital in Hawaii and a monastery in Bhutan. In 2010, however, they made a gift that reflected the major shift in their approach to philanthropy.

Almost two years after their daughter was born at UCSF, they announced a $100m gift to build a new home for UCSF Children’s Hospital. It changed its name to UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospitals. Lynne served on the UCSF Foundation Board and they had already made an anonymous donation of

$20m the year before. They gave a second donation of $100m in 2014, to be divided between UCSF and the Children’s Hospital in Oakland. Marc explained to the Wall Street Journal that they would exclusively focus their donations on the children’s hospital for the next 10 years. They will then reassess where they are in 2020 and “look for the next target”. Marc has also stated his intention to give away the majority of his wealth in his lifetime.


Image: (I couldn’t find a Creative Commons image of both of them I’m afraid)