December 6, 2015

It’s been an exceptionally good year for the Amalgamated Compassion Fund, my charitable gift fund. Over the last 8 years or so I’ve been seeding my gift fund with cash and appreciated shares of stock. Although the markets as a whole have been up and down this year, I’ve been fortunate enough to send a record amount of my own income into the fund.

I’m also fortunate to have made two contributions that have been matched by the Tableau Foundation, run by my employer. In April the foundation offered a double match for a contribution I made to Doctors Without Borders in the aftermath of the Nepal earthquake. Later in the year Tableau, in concert with the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, matched a donation I made to the U.S. Fund for UNICEF to aid Syrian refugees.

Earlier this month I recommended grants from the Amalgamated Compassion Fund to a further 10 charities, four of which are Seattle-based organizations that I’ve never granted funds to in the past. Here are the recipients of my grants this year:

The Seattle Subway Foundation is the non-profit arm of Seattle Subway, which advocates for Seattle to build a fast, grade-separated, high-capacity mass transit system. Seattle’s roads are hopelessly clogged with traffic and, historically, Seattle voters have been loath to fund the mass transit their city needs. With a million more residents expected to arrive in the Seattle metro area by 2040, there’s no better way to get people around than by transit. I’m glad this organization is helping to get the word out.

Seattle-based Water1st International has funded clean water and sanitation projects benefiting over 130,000 people in Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Honduras and India. Simple, functional, common-sense solutions will help entire communities improve their health and conquer poverty. Thanks to my friend Brenda for introducing me to Water1st!

Senior Services, which will become “Sound Generations” next month, provides needed services to Seattle’s older residents. At a time when many senior citizens find their living expenses rising, nonprofits like Senior Services provide meal delivery, transportation, health and wellness activities, and more needed services to keep them well.

Lastly among the new recipients, Feet First is a nonprofit dedicated to keeping Seattle communities walkable. Ever since I came here for my Amazon on-site interview in 2006, I’ve been surprised to see how, despite all its hills, Seattle is a place best experienced on foot. Feet First advocates for neighborhoods, transit stations, and schools to be easily accessible to pedestrians.

In addition to the four newcomers above, I’ve made grants to six previous recipients: Northwest Harvest, which is fighting hunger throughout Washington state; Carnegie Mellon University, my alma mater; the Electronic Frontier Foundation; the Seattle Public Library Foundation; the Seattle Art Museum; and American Public Media, producers of Marketplace and several other engaging radio shows and podcasts.