Thursday, November 16, 2006

**** Special Alert ****

Thanksgiving is just a week away and Foundation grantee Second Harvest Food Bank reports that food donations are very low. Maybe it’s the summer-like weather that is keeping people from getting into the holiday mode and the season of giving. Whatever the reason, Second Harvest could really use more support so they can continue serving 156,000 people each month. The food and money collected during the holiday season is used to feed hungry people in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties all year long.

Bay Area eBay employees. There are a few ways you can help. Bring in your food donations and help fill all of the food barrels at eBay. The barrels are located in the lobby level of most buildings. Most needed foods include meals in a can, tuna, peanut butter, canned fruit or vegetables and low sugar cereals. eBay Foundation is also looking for volunteers for the Food Sort on Tuesday, November 28 from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. The food sort is a fun activity where you will see the inner working of the warehouse, prepare food for delivery and meet some of your coworkers. To sign-up or find out more, please send an email to the Foundation.

If you can't make the sort or there isn't a barrel near you, you can donate online, just remember to enter eBay Food Drive in the comments field. Every dollar donated helps Second Harvest provide two nutritious meals to those in need. Now that sounds like a pretty good deal to us. I hope you will join eBay Foundation in the fight against hunger this holiday season.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Hot off the Presses...

While the eBay Foundation offices are closed in observance of Veteran's Day, life continues to remind us of the work that we do. This morning, there was a great piece in the San Jose Mercury News about Lenders for Community Development and the stories we heard as part of the eBay Foundation hosted Microenterprise Funder's Group meeting. On Monday and Tuesday, we were joined by Scott Duke Harris, a writer for the San Jose Mercury News. When Scott entered the room, the image of a Clark Kent-like journalist (complete with very stylish glasses) entered my mind. Scott graciously listened to the clients as they proudly shared their stories about their path to economic independence. He also took the time to understand the historical perspective of the microenterprise movement by speaking with many of those who have been involved with the microenterprise development field for over a decade such as Elaine Edgecomb of the Aspen Institute and Bob Friedman of the Friedman Family Foundation. I can't but be thrilled by the resulting article that you can read via the below link. How great that a wide audience can learn more about LCD's important work and the success stories of clients like Robin, Nestor, Georgette and Sandra, who generously share about their life experiences so others can be inspired. What a great way to start the weekend!

San Jose Mercury News Article on the Microenterprise Funders Meeting

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Hair braids, the Phillipine milkfish and changing lives

Part of our goal in starting this blog was to give you a window into everyday life at eBay Foundation. Just what do we spend our day doing at the Foundation? This week has been one of the more interesting weeks here at the Foundation. It all started with an encounter with Nestor and the Phillipine milkfish pictured above.

This week, the Foundation helped to host the 3rd meeting of the Microenterprise Funders Group (MFG). The MFG is comprised of foundations, corporations and individuals who share an interest in funding microenterprise. The group was started by Sue Peters at the Mott Foundation a little over a year ago to bring folks together to learn more about the field of microenterpsie and to share strategies and best practices.

As a part of the meeting, the group (in total about 35 folks over a 2 day period) visited Lenders for Community Development (LCD). LCD is a non-profit financial institution that provides tools and training that enable people to transform their lives. Pictured to the right is their widely-recognized Executive Director, Eric Weaver, who tirelessly works to help LCD's clients move up the economic ladder.

During our visit to LCD, we had the chance to meet several of their clients, all of whom eloquently spoke about the impact their LCD financing has had on their lives. For example, we met Robin, owner of Braid It Up salon in San Jose, CA. For years, no bank would take a chance on Robin and provide her with a loan. Through LCD, Robin received a business loan of $10,000 to refurbish her salon and advertise her services. LCD also helped her develop a strategy to manage her money and build a savings plan. With support from LCD, Robin was able to make her dream of owning her own business a reality. Last year, Robin brought in over $100,000 in revenues!

We also heard from Nestor, owner of Heilings, who specializes in making a Phillipine delicacy, stuffed boneless milkfish. Nestor (pictured on the left) makes this labor intensive fish which he sells at local farmer's markets among other places. Initially, Nestor was making the milkfish for family and friends before he learned that there was a market for the fish. He then turned to LCD for a microloan which has enabled his passion for cooking fish to become a thriving business. Nestor, has manged to increase his production while maintaining the quality of his product (Nestor still wraps and cooks the fish in banana leafs vs. tinfoil). And word is out about Nestor's milkfish. He recently turned down an offer to mass produce his fish for commercial sale.

LCD has been a longtime partner of ours. We've always known that they were doing great work helping people to build assets-- a home, a small business, an education. We know they have provided over $6.3 million in loans to over 374 low-income entrepreneurs and directed over $80 million in community investments improving the lives of over 7,000 households. What you can't see from the numbers, and what we had the pleasure of seeing in person this week is how LCD has given their clients hope for the future and a sense of possibility and empowerment. Knowing that we have helped to contribute to this in some small way through our support of LCD makes coming to work everyday a real pleasure.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Feedback: the Good, the Bad and the Ugly

I've often thought that one of the most brilliant things about the eBay Marketplace ( is the Feedback system. If you are doing something right, you get good feedback (the green dot to the left). If you aren't doing too good, you get negative feedback (the red dot to the left). When you get a critical mass of feedback, you get a star. If you have too much negative feedback, it's dealt with. Pretty simple, pretty straightforward and pretty easy.

Here at the Foundation we love feedback too. Yesterday, we put out a survey to get people's thoughts about our matching gifts program, a program where we match employee donations to charity up to $500 a year. (Foundation Factoid- To date, 2000+ employees have participated in the program and we've matched close to $900K in charitable donations.) Much to my delight, over 50 employees have completed our survey. We've heard the good, the bad and the ugly (thankfully, most comments were good). I wanted to let those of you who filled out the survey know that we're actively listening to your comments and are taking your feedback seriously-you tell, we listen and change where possible. So, a few examples of what we heard and what we plan to do:

- "Reconsider your definition of schools to include preschools" - when we have promotions that include schools, we will include qualified, non-profit preschools

- "An improvement would be to have more people aware of the process" - we will be sending out some more communications and host an on site demo in San Jose. If you are outside San Jose and want to help us by hosting a demo, drop us an email.

-"It's a great program, keep it up" - We think so too and plan to keep it going :-)

For those of you who took the time to fill out the survey, THANKS A MILLION. We greatly appreciate the feedback.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Life According to Seinfeld

People always think that work at a Foundation simply involves writing checks all day long. This is far from the truth and a myth I constantly strive to debunk. Oddly enough, today I found myself spending a good amount of time signing checks. I suddenly had a flashback to a Seinfeld episode where Jerry starts to get a cramp in his hand from endorsing royalty checks. (Funny how there is always a Seinfeld episode for various moments in life). Our local conference room also looked like an assembly line as plaques, letters & checks were being hand-packed for mailing by the dedicated Foundation staff. This scene is not typical of the everyday goings on at the Foundation.

To be exact, I found myself signing my name almost 200 times today on grant letters and checks. What was the occasion? The conclusion of our latest round of the eBay Foundation Champion A Charity program, one of the several programs we have to support the charitable interests of eBay employees. Through Champion A Charity, eBay employees can recommend a grant up to $2,500 to their favorite charity. A review committee comprised of eBay employees from all over the globe read the proposals and make funding recommendations.

Since we started the program back in 2003, we have made over 200+ grants to employee recommended charities! More importantly, over 329 eBay employees (unfortunately, not all submissions get funding) have taken the time to write proposals to help charities get funding. We think this is absolutely terrific and a great example of the giving spirit of our employees (Above, pictured at a Foundation lunch are some employee champions talking about their charity to eBay's champion CEO, Meg Whitman).

We’re so proud to have funded a variety of organizations through this program from a group that helps land mine victim’s families in Vietnam to a local hospice that needed baby monitors for its patients. We think the program is a great way to support community needs (especially those that fall outside our grants focus of microenterprise), and to support the charitable interest of eBay employees—a win-win for all.

If you are an eBay employee, we would love to hear your thoughts about the program, which we currently offer 2x a year, and will shortly offer 4x a year. Non-eBay employees, we would also love to hear what you think about the program. Does your company sponsor something similar? Any ideas we can borrow to provide greater support for the charitable interests of employees? If I think hard enough, there may be a Seinfeld episode that has some insights. But until I remember one, drop us a line or post a comment to give us some feedback.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Meet an eBay Foundation Techquity Recipient...

This is Freddy pictured on the right. Freddy, owner of Borges Fine Arts, used his Techquity grant to purchase a digital camera to take photos of his work and post better quality images on his website.

Hard to imagine that the images on his site can get any more beautiful. See for yourself, the vases, dishes and other great finds at Freddy's site are absolutely amazing!

Somer Gardiner, pictured on the left, is the owner of Soul Spun Yarn and Art. Somer used her eBay Foundation Techquity grant to acquire the POS system, Broderbund Print Shop 21 Pro, Microsoft Works 8.0 and a Monitor. Somer says she has seen a 33% increase in business revenue and a 10% increase in customers since acquiring her new technology products. The technology created an opportunity for her to grow her business on the internet. Somer now has the capability to broadcast messages (e.g., coupons, flyers, et al) to customers about sales and other events, resulting in some immediate response from customers. We're thrilled for Somer. Keep up the sales!

P.S. If you are ever in Utah, check out Somer's Store located at 2343 East 3300 South #5, Salt Lake City, UT 84109+1 (801) 746-5094. Or visit the store online at

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

So what exactly is eBay Foundation?

A bit about our history...
The first transaction of its kind, eBay Foundation was established in 1998 when 107,250 of pre-IPO stock valued at approximately $1 million was donated by eBay, Inc.. Now with assets at approximately $33 million, eBay Foundation is governed by a six person board of directors, including eBay and non-eBay employees.

The Foundation has contributed more that $11 million to charitable organizations since inception, including $2.2 million in 2005 alone. The Foundation has been recognized as a top corporate philanthropist by the SF Business Times and the SJ Business Journal, and has been cited for having numerous field best practices.

Our Mission...
The mission of eBay Foundation is to make investments that improve the social and economic well-being of our communities. The Foundation accomplishes this mission by 1) funding innovative programs at non-profit organizations 2) Supporting and encouraging employee involvement and 3) creating charitable opportunities that involve eBay community members

A Few of our Major Initiatives...
eBay Foundation has numerous programs that are benefitting society and getting folks excited about community invovlement. One major initiative is the eBay Foundation Techquity Program. Our strategic partner in this progam is the Association for Enterprise Opportunity, a group that does an immense amount of work to support small businesses and the organizations that serve them. Through the program, low to moderate income entrepreneurs are given cash awards up to $1,600 to purchase technology equipment that will help improve their businesses. Local non-profit partners who award the funds to entrepreneurs also receive a grant to support technology training and their own technology needs which in turn help them to better serve their clients.

Our first Techquity award went out in December of 2005 and since that time, we've helped over 150 small business owners purchase new technology equipment! Based on our success to date, we decided to expand the program and expect to help 340 small business owners with their technology needs in 2007. We were pleased that the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) was equally impressed with our progress and committed $80K to help support the program in their region! Thanks to Ray Daffner, Entrepreneurship Initiative Manager at ARC, for his support and belief in the program.