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California Community Foundations Merge, Form Fifth Largest in the United States

July 31, 2006

(July 31, 2006) Community Foundation Silicon Valley and the Peninsula Community Foundation are expected to merge at the beginning of 2007, creating the fifth-largest community foundation in the United States.

The new organization, the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, will have assets of more than $1.5 billion. In comparison, the New York Community Trust ranks as the wealthiest community foundation in the United States, with assets of $1.9 billion.

Community Foundation Silicon Valley, based in San Jose, Calif., was named AFP’s Outstanding Foundation in 2002. The Peninsula Community Foundation is headquartered in San Mateo, Calif.

According to an article in the San Jose-based Mercury News (“Nonprofits team up to give big,” July 13, 2006) the two organizations began discussing the idea of a merger in 1991. However, serious negotiations started up in the past couple of years when the leaders of both organizations were planning to either retire or move on at about the same time.

Paulette V. Maehara, CFRE, CAE, president and CEO of AFP, feels the merger is a very solid move, especially with the proliferation of nonprofits, and questions about whether the sector is providing services as efficiently and effectively as possible. “Mergers have been discussed a lot in the past decade, especially with the growth of the sector,” she said. “However, they’ve been few and far between, and most have seemed quite rushed with little thought about how the new organization would operate and how it would continue to provide effective services. In contrast, this merger seems a perfect example of how similar organizations could come together to better serve the community.”

The boards of both organizations have voted on the merger, although the new foundation must gain the approval of the California Attorney General and obtain tax-exempt status from the Internal Revenue Service.

The websites of Community Foundation Silicon Valley and the Peninsula Community Foundation have more information about the merger.