Non-profit

Aphorism Foundation

Website:

www.aphorismfoundation.org

Location:

SAN FRANCISCO, CA

Tax ID:

46-4347021

Tax-Exempt Status:

501(c)(3)-PF

Budget (2019):

Revenue: $24,436,703
Expenses: $20,522,212
Assets: $811,070,012

Formation:

2014

Type:

Private Foundation

Founder:

Reid Hoffman

The Aphorism Foundation is a San Francisco, California-based private grantmaking foundation. It is the giving vehicle for LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman.

The foundation donates to a variety of noncontroversial causes such as supporting universities and hospitals and to left-leaning causes and foundations. In 2018, the largest single donation of the foundation was to the Obama Foundation which is the main fundraising vehicle for former President Barack Obama’s presidential library and his championing of left-of-center advocacy issues. [1]

In December 2021, it was announced that the foundation had donated more than $25 million to the Obama Foundation and that Aphorism was named as a “founding donor” to the presidential center. In addition, the foundation may have contributed money to the Obama Foundation’s plan to name spaces within the Obama Presidential Center after civil rights and social justice leaders. [2]

Overview

The Aphorism Foundation is the primary charitable giving vehicle for LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman. [3] The foundation was established in 2014 as a way for Hoffman and his wife, Michelle Yee, to increase their philanthropy. The couple are signers of the Giving Pledge, which is a pledge by the world’s wealthiest people to give away the majority of their wealth towards philanthropic causes. [4]

The foundation is a supporter of the [email protected] initiative which helps train people who do not have degrees to enter the workforce. The organization then helps the graduates of its programs to seek work in the tech industry. Hoffman has served as a chairman of the initiative. [5]

The foundation has also underwritten a study at the University of California, Santa Cruz to research environmental history. The grant is for a three-year study by Ravi Rajan to write a comprehensive study on the world’s environmental history. [6]

The foundation is also a supporter of the Cortico project, which seeks to increase the number of voices that are heard in the civic conversation. The project also works with MIT to increase and improve the civic communication. [7]

In December 2021, the foundation was named as a “founding donor” to the Obama Foundation, which is the primary charitable vehicle for former President Barack Obama which he uses to build his presidential library and promote left-of-center causes. Aphorism has donated at least $25 million to the Obama Foundation and may have donated money to the foundation’s plan to name spaces in the future Obama presidential center after civil rights and social justice figures. [8]

Leadership

The foundation is the private grantmaking vehicle of Reid Hoffman, the founder of the social media platform LinkedIn, and his wife Michelle Yee. The couple are also signers of the Giving Pledge, a pledge by the world’s wealthiest to give away the bulk of their wealth to philanthropic causes. [9]

The couple view philanthropy as a means of community engagement. The engagement is not just through the granting of money but also a partnership of multiple stakeholders, which include the recipient of the gift as the most important stakeholder. [10]

Finances

According to the 2018 tax returns, Aphorism Foundation generated $26,933,140 in revenue and had $56,017,644 in expenses. It had assets of $1,468,338,964. [11]

Its largest single donation was $10,000,000 to the Crisis Text Line, a suicide prevention effort. [12]

But it has also given large donations to center-left causes including $8,334,000 to the Obama Foundation, $1,000,000 to Integrity First for America, $3,250,000 to the New America Foundation, and $250,000 to Democracy Works. [13]

References

  1. “Aphorism Foundation Form 990 2018”. Propublica. Accessed May 16, 2022 https://projects.propublica.org/nonprofits/display_990/464347021/12_2019_prefixes_45-47%2F464347021_201812_990PF_2019123116986121. ^
  2. “Obama Foundation Announces Gifts To Honor Civil Rights Heroes”. Philanthropy News Digest (PND). Dec. 13, 2021 https://philanthropynewsdigest.org/news/obama-foundation-announces-gifts-to-honor-civil-rights-heroes?_ga=2.139663667.1211990358.1652591674-92159151.1652591672. ^
  3. “Reid Hoffman And Michelle Yee”. Giving Pledge. Accessed May 16, 2022 https://givingpledge.org/pledger?pledgerId=356. ^
  4. “Reid Hoffman And Michelle Yee”. Giving Pledge. Accessed May 16, 2022 https://givingpledge.org/pledger?pledgerId=356. ^
  5.  “[email protected] Announces Support From Chan Zuckerberg Initiative”. Business Wire. Nov 30, 2017 https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20171130005594/en/OpportunityWork-Announces-Support-from-Chan-Zuckerberg-Initiative. ^
  6. [1] “Aphorism Foundation Underwrites An Important Work On Environmental History”.  UCSC Social Sciences. Accessed May 16, 2022 https://socialsciences.ucsc.edu/research/featured-research/ravi-rajan.html. ^
  7. “About Cortico”. Cortico. Accessed May 16, 2022. https://cortico.ai/about/. ^
  8. “Obama Foundation Announces Gifts To Honor Civil Rights Heroes”. Philanthropy News Digest (PND). Dec. 13, 2021 https://philanthropynewsdigest.org/news/obama-foundation-announces-gifts-to-honor-civil-rights-heroes?_ga=2.139663667.1211990358.1652591674-92159151.1652591672. ^
  9. “Reid Hoffman And Michelle Yee”. Giving Pledge. Accessed May 16, 2022. https://givingpledge.org/pledger?pledgerId=356. ^
  10. “Reid Hoffman And Michelle Yee”. Giving Pledge. Accessed May 16, 2022. https://givingpledge.org/pledger?pledgerId=356. ^
  11. “Aphorism Foundation Form 990 2018”. Propublica. Accessed May 16, 2022 https://projects.propublica.org/nonprofits/display_990/464347021/12_2019_prefixes_45-47%2F464347021_201812_990PF_2019123116986121.[ ^
  12. “Aphorism Foundation Form 990 2018”. Propublica. Accessed May 16, 2022 https://projects.propublica.org/nonprofits/display_990/464347021/12_2019_prefixes_45-47%2F464347021_201812_990PF_2019123116986121. ^
  13. “Aphorism Foundation Form 990 2018”. Propublica. Accessed May 16, 2022 https://projects.propublica.org/nonprofits/display_990/464347021/12_2019_prefixes_45-47%2F464347021_201812_990PF_2019123116986121. ^

Directors, Employees & Supporters

  1. Reid Hoffman
    President, Primary Donor
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: December - November
  • Tax Exemption Received: August 1, 2014

  • Available Filings

    Period Form Type Total revenue Total functional expenses Total assets (EOY) Total liabilities (EOY) Unrelated business income? Total contributions Program service revenue Investment income Comp. of current officers, directors, etc. Form 990
    2019 Dec Form PF $24,436,703 $20,522,212 $811,070,012 $16,670,490 $0 $0 $0 $0
    2015 Dec Form PF $11,757,100 $5,905,157 $114,725,554 $1,016,079 $0 $0 $0 $0 PDF
    2014 Dec Form PF $28,711,717 $5,303,268 $106,648,168 $717,859 $0 $0 $0 $0 PDF
    2013 Dec Form PF $78,760,714 $1,591,400 $79,573,304 $1,591,400 $0 $0 $0 $0 PDF

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    Aphorism Foundation

    50 CALIFORNIA ST STE 3550
    SAN FRANCISCO, CA 94111-4717