No. 13: William and Flora Hewlett Foundation

One of the foundation goals is to support education and performing arts in their home state of California


Hewlett, one half of the duo that set up computer manufacturing giant Hewlett Packard, set up the foundation with his wife Flora and their eldest son Walter in 1967.

“Never stifle a generous impulse,” was one of William Hewlett’s favourite sayings and he kept his word. It was the personal generosity of Hewlett, who passed away in 2001, that has made the Hewlett Foundation one of the nation’s largest, with assets of almost £6bn.

The foundation’s ambitious goals include helping to reduce global poverty, limiting the risk of climate change and supporting education and performing arts in their home state of California.

Just like the Gates Foundation, it combines giving grants for immediate help with a programme of robust analysis, measuring the impact of its programmes and adjusting its work accordingly – or as the foundation calls it, helping people build measurably better lives.

This April, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation president Larry D Kramer and David and Lucile Packard Foundation president Carol S Larson jointly stated that it’s not too late for grant makers to make a big difference in curbing climate change by promoting alternative energy and working collaboratively on a range of efforts. They claimed:

“Currently less than two per cent of all philanthropic dollars are being spent in the fight against climate change. That is not enough given how big of a threat we face. Left to its current course, the impact of global climate change threatens the longterm success of every other effort foundations support. It is time to act in whatever ways we can. It is time to get going.”