Three Things to Know About the Nancy and Joachim Bechtle Foundation

the SFMOMA is among the recipients of gifts from Nancy and Joachim Bechtle. Photo: David Tran Photo/shutterstock

the SFMOMA is among the recipients of gifts from Nancy and Joachim Bechtle. Photo: David Tran Photo/shutterstock

One of the many rising philanthropic couples in the San Francisco Bay Area is Nancy and Joachim Bechtle; however, many local nonprofits aren’t yet familiar with the couple’s work. This is the couple behind J.R. Bechtle & Co., a San Francisco company founded in 1979 for the purpose of assisting international subsidiaries with executive recruiting. The Bechtles started a philanthropic foundation in 2006, but since then, they’ve kept a low profile on it and quietly supported local groups. The Bechtel Foundation has yet to create a website to highlight its giving and make itself more accessible to grantseekers. But here are three things that Bay Area groups should know.

1. Nancy Bechtle Is Deeply Involved with Arts Philanthropy

Nancy Bechtle has long been a major player in the San Francisco nonprofit world. She was the president and CEO of the San Francisco Symphony from 1987 to 2001 and has served on the board of governors for the organization since 1984. Before this, she was a director and CFO of J.R. Bechtle & Co, and today, she’s a director of the Sugar Bowl Corporation, the Charles Schwab Corporation, and the Charles and Helen Schwab Foundation. Her community board experience goes even further to include the San Francisco Opera Association, the Northern California Health Center, and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.

As these local affiliations suggest, the arts are a top cause for Nancy Bechtle. Over the years, she has received a Lifetime Achievement in the Arts award from the California Arts Council, a Leadership in the Arts award from St. Francis Hospital, and the Business Arts Council of the Chamber of Commerce's Trustee award. Meanwhile, Joaquim Bechtle has served on the boards of the University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and the Pacific Film Archive. These personal passions are evident in the Bechtle Foundation’s grantmaking, with arts grants often going to big-name institutions in the Bay Area.

2. San Francisco Is the Key Focus

Even though the Bechtle Foundation’s tax records indicate that it is based in New York City, the couple is all about San Francisco when it comes to grantmaking. San Francisco is where the couple’s company was founded and is where the bulk of foundation grantmaking is focused. Recent local grantees here include KIPP Bay Area Schools, SFMOMA, Stanford University, UCSF Foundation, San Francisco Symphony, and the Golden Gate National Park Conservancy. Very few grants ever escape the founders’ home region.

3. Only Pre-Selected Nonprofits Receive Grants

While San Francisco arts groups may be thinking that the Bechtle couple would be perfect partners for a next big project, they should know that this foundation doesn’t welcome unsolicited requests. According to the foundation’s tax documents, Nancy and Joachim Bechtle Foundation only funds pre-selected organizations, and they don’t make any grantmaking guidelines publicly available. Furthermore, most of the organizations that receive Bechtle grants have a personal affiliation to the couple.

Although the couple is retired, they’ve shown no signs of slowing down with regard to their community involvement or charitable giving. To learn more about this funder, check out IP’s full profile of the Nancy and Joachim Bechtle Foundation and also other grantmakers in this region on our Bay Area Funders Page.