Episode 39 - Entrepreneurs and Philanthropy, A New "Pre-exit" Philanthropy - Interview with Dee Dee Mendoza, Dartmouth College


The challenge we face:

Entrepreneurs often don’t fit the paradigms we use to assess the strength of a fundraising prospect. Their capacity to give doesn’t increase in a linear fashion like other professions, their time constraints around becoming involved are often the inverse of other donors, and the most tax advantageous way to make their gifts is often to give before they actually have experienced the large liquidity events around selling a company or going public. That said, entrepreneurs give 50% more than other professionals making the same income and they often make transformational gifts to organizations once they have the means. They also bring a perspective and approach to providing advice to organizations that is unique to their line of work.

Dee Dee Mendoza discusses how some organizations have approached engaged entrepreneurs in their pre-exit philanthropy stage through the use of founders’ pledges, recognition society engagement, and providing value to entrepreneurs that is needed at each phase of their company’s lifecycle. If your organization wants to provide for its long-term health and have a competitive advantage in your sector, this episode will be an important piece of information in building your entrepreneurial approaches.

In this episode we’ll discuss:

  • Challenges around engaging entrepreneurs in traditional fundraising paths.

  • The benefits organizations can offer to entrepreneurs during their company’s early phases.

  • How tax implications affect entrepreneurs and their giving.

  • What a Founders’ Pledge Society looks like.

  • What people get wrong in engaging entrepreneurs.

  • How to engage entrepreneurs while their wealth only exists on paper.

  • How to book founders’ pledge gifts for your record keeping.

  • Places you can find more research on entrepreneurs and philanthropy.

  • Why it’s fun to work with entrepreneurs.

  • How to get on the calendar of entrepreneurs in your portfolio or database.

  • How to learn more from Dee Dee and stay up to date with the latest in this field.

How you can make your voice heard!

There will be two discussions in the Philanthropy Podcast Facebook group this week. The questions we’re asking are:

    1. Who are the entrepreneurs (and/or their companies) who have made a significant impact on your organization or just were great fun to work with? What’s the story behind your collaboration?

    2. Does your organization have any formal program for entrepreneurs? Take our poll and leave any details you’d like to share or questions you’d like to ask in the comments.

You can join our Philanthropy Podcast Facebook Group to share ideas, get advice, and simply enjoy the company of other listeners.

Learn more about this episode’s guest, Dee Dee Mendoza:

Dee Dee Mendoza is managing director of West Coast Advancement for Dartmouth College, where she works largely with alumni in startups and venture capital. Her background in major gifts goes back more than 15 years, primarily in Higher Education. She has led efforts to launch Higher Ed's two most prominent pre-exit philanthropy platforms: the Dartmouth Founders Project, and the award-winning Berkeley Founders Pledge, the first of a new wave of these programs that incorporates the unique model she developed. Her teams' work has been featured in Currents magazine and the Chronicle of Philanthropy. She continues to advance the field through independent research and as an advisor to numerous emerging programs.


  1. The Philanthropy Podcast - Website

  2. The Philanthropy Podcast - Twitter

  3. The Philanthropy Podcast - Instagram

  4. The Philanthropy Podcast Facebook Group

  5. The Philanthropy Podcast User Survey

  6. Dee Dee's Website - Website

  7. Dee Dee Mendoza - Twitter

  8. Dee Dee Mendoza - LinkedIn

  9. Additional research - Zoltan Acs

  10. Additional reading - Platform Revolution - Parker, Geoffrey; Van Alstyne, Marshall, & Choudary, Snageet

  11. UC Berkeley - Founders' Pledge

  12. Dartmouth Founders' Project

  13. Pledge 1%

  14. Founders' Pledge UK

  15. Inspired Money Podcast - With Andy Wang (Yeah, I linked to my appearance)

  16. Follow The Philanthropy Podcast on: