An Innovative Approach to Philanthropy

By Claire Solot
Marcled Foundation/Bigglesworth Family Foundation
San Francisco

“Philanthropy has been part of our family culture for as long as I can remember,” says Exponent Philanthropy member Claire Solot, former executive director and current board member of The Marcled Foundation and current managing director of The Bigglesworth Family Foundation, one of Marcled’s offspring foundations.

Solot is a third generation grantmaker. Her grandparents formed a family foundation in the 1950s and incorporated a corporate giving program into the family business. She has continued her family’s legacy throughout her career, working with and serving on the boards of various nonprofits in San Francisco.

Lifelong Passion for Family Philanthropy

It comes as no surprise that, with her lifelong involvement in philanthropy and passion for the nonprofit sector, Solot takes the most pride in an innovative Marcled initiative aimed at strengthening nonprofits’ internal capacity.

In 2009, through its Legal Services Initiative, Marcled discovered that many executive directors of legal services nonprofits did not have essential skills in business, fundraising, or management. Marcled spearheaded an advisory board to address these gaps and later provided seed funding to OneJustice, a California-based nonprofit whose mission is to increase Californians’ access to legal help by building infrastructure and partnerships in the legal community.

In September 2010, Marcled supported the OneJustice Executive Fellowship’s inaugural class to develop strong management skills and train the next generation of leaders in the legal services field.

Solot recently left her position as Marcled’s executive director to focus on her new role as managing director of The Bigglesworth Family Foundation, formed in 2010 to concentrate on areas previously in the realm of Marcled board members’ discretionary grantmaking, thus allowing Marcled to become more focused.

In recent years, The Marcled Foundation targeted safety net organizations; health and wellness programs; and organizations that address economic and personal advancement through job training, education support, and youth leadership. The Bigglesworth Family Foundation is designing and developing its focus areas.

Supporting Exponent Philanthropy as Volunteer and Donor

In addition to her dual roles as board member and executive director, Solot is an active Exponent Philanthropy volunteer. She is a member of Exponent Philanthropy’s Impact Working Group, which comprises members who help fellow small foundations move along a continuum toward greater impact, and the Host Committee for Exponent Philanthropy’s 2012 National Conference in San Francisco.

As an Exponent Philanthropy member, Solot appreciates the sense of community most. “Exponent Philanthropy is a terrific resource to meet other funders who are similarly situated, and be part of a larger community,” she says.

The Marcled Foundation is also a longstanding Exponent Philanthropy donor. As Solot puts it, “Supporting philanthropy organizations is one of the best ways we know to ensure that great work is done in our sector.”