Foundation Overview

The Steven and Michele Kirsch Foundation reflects the broad charitable commitments of its two founders, ranging from cleaning up the air in California to eliminating nuclear weapons to supporting local -- Silicon Valley -- nonprofit organizations. The Foundation's assets are approximately $7 million.

The Foundation was formally established in 1999 within the Community Foundation Silicon Valley (CFSV), which merged with Peninsula Community Foundation in 2006 to become Silicon Valley Community Foundation. The Kirsches had been active philanthropists since the early 1990s, however, through their donor-advised fund at CFSV.

To reach the Foundation's goals, we are a registered 501(c)(3) charity and have elected the safe harbor provision for lobbying activities since we engage both in grantmaking and advocacy efforts to effect change. The Foundation's extensive lobbying and advocacy activities reflect the founders' clear understanding of the impact of public policy on the issues to which they are dedicated.

Our Vision

We want a safe and peaceful world, one without the threat of destruction. We want a healthy world, one without disease and without pollution of our air, water and land, and one in which all species have the ability to survive and flourish.

Our Mission

We invest in causes where high-impact, leverageable activities can result in a safer and healthier world. Using whatever means are most effective, we work to solve significant problems and issues that place individuals, the world community, and the world itself at risk.

How We Operate

Active Leadership by Founders:

  • Steve Kirsch personally engages in political activities and lobbying.
  • Steve and Michele Kirsch try to enlist others in the Foundation’s causes or causes that may apply to them.
  • Steve and Michele Kirsch are willing to take controversial stands and to educate people about those issues.

Breadth of Causes and Activities:

  • The Foundation has ambitious goals: curing major diseases, saving the world from potential total destruction, cleaning up the air. We’d like to reach all of them but, if not, at least we will have made the effort.
  • Our limited financial resources require the Board and staff to be creative. We have to find and focus on the most strategic activities possible, whether grantmaking, collaboration, political advocacy and/or education to reach our goals.
  • We like to provide support where we find gaps. For example, in the nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament field, we are one of only a few foundations in the U.S. able to support lobbying. It is crucial that the peace and security field have lobbying resources, so we direct our funds to that effort.
  • We aren't afraid of getting involved politically in controversial areas such as ending the ban on federal funds for human embryonic stem cell research.
  • We initiate collaborations with other advocacy organizations to achieve political objectives. Our efforts include our environmental collaboration in the state of California and our national arms control efforts in Washington, DC.
  • We help other people become philanthropists.

Type of Foundation:

  • The Foundation is a supporting organization of a community foundation and, as such, has status as a public charity (501(c)(3)) organization.
  • The Foundation is not a private family foundation.
  • The Foundation has elected the IRS-provided safe harbor for lobbying expenditures and registers with, and/or provides reports to, various governmental entities on its lobbying as required.

Financial Policy and Investment Strategy:

  • Most foundations allocate an amount equal to 5% of their assets for annual grants and operations. At the Kirsch Foundation, however, we are committed to solving problems, not ensuring that we retain the value of our assets. Steve and Michele Kirsch want to maintain critical programs and they expect to be able to add to the Foundation's assets in the future. The Foundation’s Board has, therefore, decided to establish the Foundation’s annual operating budget at a $1.5M level, beginning July 1, 2005. With current assets of $7M, this represents a continued and aggressive use of resources.
  • Most foundations have a reasonably conservative investment policy. In contrast, 90% of the Kirsch Foundation’s endowment was aggressively invested in the stock market, in particular in technology stocks, until October 2002. At that time, the Board determined it should modify the investment strategy and invest in a balanced portfolio that is now managed by the Silicon Valley Community Foundation.

Approach to Grantmaking:

  • We invest in logical causes that provide substantial leverage, even if they are not popular causes for the Federal government or other foundations. These range from nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament to somatic cell nuclear transfer (also known as therapeutic cloning) advocacy.
  • We often fund organizations that are engaged in public policy and lobbying work on issues of particular interest to our Public Policy staff in order to leverage our impact on an issue.
  • We are, occasionally, willing to be the only significant sponsor of a major project to insure it will be done or can get underway.

Donate to the Foundation

The Steven and Michele Kirsch Foundation, as a 501(c)3 public charity (tax ID number 77-0502997), accepts donations from individuals and organizations. All donations are tax-deductible to the fullest extent allowed by law. If you would like to make a donation, please make your check payable to the “Steven and Michele Kirsch Foundation” and send it to: 2440 W. El Camino Real, Ste. 300, Mountain View, CA 94040. Unfortunately, we are unable to accept credit card donations; we apologize for any inconvenience. Please provide your contact information – name, address, phone and email – along with your check so that we can properly acknowledge your gift. Unless otherwise designated, all donations received will support Waldenstrom’s Macroglobulinemia research in honor of Steve Kirsch, who was diagnosed with this disease in August 2007. If you would like your gift to support all of the Foundation’s current activities, please indicate that it is to be used for general support when you send in your contribution. We thank you, in advance, for your support.

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