Our Philosophies of Giving

U.S. law dictates that 5% of a Foundation’s capital be distributed annually in service of the Foundation’s mission. We consider these grant distributions the Foundation’s “Program Investments.” Our Foundation is equally committed to ensuring the other 95% works to compliment or facilitate the Mission. We aim to do this through “Direct Impact Investments” and investments in corporations who function in socially and environmentally responsible ways, with a strong commitment to the enhancement of the social impact ecosystem.

Our Philosophy of Program Investment

Our program investments aim to contribute to the empowerment of disadvantaged peoples or communities. We are passionate about empowering people to develop their own previously untapped capabilities. We partner with those organizations whose processes or products enable people to emerge from distressing predicaments by providing the know-how and resources to become empowered. We are especially keen to facilitate empowering people in ways that have ripple effects extending far beyond the original investment.

We evaluate opportunities based on these guidelines.

  • Small donation, big impact. We invest in projects where our contribution can make a meaningful impact on the success.  Because our grants are relatively small – usually ranging from $2,500 up to $25,000 – we tend toward small to medium-sized organizations where our level of funding makes a difference.
  • Efficiency. We appreciate productivity. The organizations we support tend to be unusually successful at managing overhead and administrative costs so that our donation reaches the people who need it.
  • Measureable outcome.  We prefer projects with clear milestones and outcomes, measured with rigorous methods.

We do not provide grants that are primarily for endowments, capital campaigns, ongoing operating expenses, existing deficits, or lobbying of any kind. We do not make grants to individuals or for-profit organizations.

Because of our small size and strict focus, there are many worthy organizations and projects – including projects that meet our program investment criteria – that we simply cannot fund. We appreciate your understanding of our limitations.

Our Philosophy of Direct Impact Investment

Our direct investments aim to fund entrepreneurial ventures whose core mission is positive social impact while still achieving financially competitive ROI’s. Committed to enacting some high-risk, long-term, ‘patient’ capital investments, our Foundation is particularly interested in investing in early stage initiatives which have the potential for massive social impact.


The Foundation is invited to speak publicly from time to time about its philosophy of giving and related grant making activities. Click on the links below to read transcripts of the following presentations:

Remarks of Dr. Pamela Ryan at 2014 Presentation of Social Entrepreneur Award

Remarks of Foundation Chair Dr Pamela Ryan at the Social Entrepreneur Awards – June 5, 2013

Remarks of Silverton Foundation Chairman Dr. Pamela Ryan – Presenting the inaugural Ernst & Young Social Entrepreneur of the Year Award – June 4, 2004

Remarks of Silverton Foundation Chairman Dr. Pamela Ryan – Accepting 2005 Outstanding Philanthropic Foundation Award at Association of Professional Fundraisers Philanthropy Day Celebration – January 24, 2006

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