Why nonprofits are seeking out family foundations to support their work

JB Straubel, one of the founding members and the chief technical officer of Tesla. Photo by: International Transport Forum / CC BY-NC-ND

SAN FRANCISCO — When JB Straubel initially pitched the idea for what would become Tesla, venture capitalists doubted he could succeed until billionaire Elon Musk backed the idea and became CEO of the company.

“No one wanted to invest. All the VCs thought: ‘It’s crazy. It’s too high risk. It won’t work.’ He met with Elon and he was the only person who got it immediately,” said Boryana Dineva, executive director of the Straubel Family Foundation and JB Straubel’s wife.

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    Catherine Cheney

    Catherine Cheney is a Senior Reporter for Devex. She covers the West Coast of the U.S., focusing on the role of technology and innovation in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. And she frequently represents Devex as a speaker and moderator. Prior to joining Devex, Catherine earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Yale University, worked as a web producer for POLITICO and reporter for World Politics Review, and helped to launch NationSwell. Catherine has reported from all over the world, and freelanced for outlets including the Atlantic and the Washington Post. She is also the West Coast ambassador for the Solutions Journalism Network, a nonprofit that trains and connects journalists to cover responses to problems.