Party On, While Giving
But in Silicon Valley philanthropic circles, Manus
may be best known for her lavish fundraising parties,
including an annual Valentine’s Ball that she
completely underwrites and hosts at her sprawling
Atherton estate. Her galas have raised millions for
cancer research and other worthy causes, including
child abuse prevention, which benefited from this
year’s Valentine’s Ball.
At her legendary fundraisers, she gathers the
rich, powerful and famous of the Bay Area and
beyond, not just to raise money but also to bring
people together to share ideas while having fun.
The parties are anything but stodgy affairs. For
instance, her Happily Never After fête featured
an illuminated glass, pumpkin-shaped Cinderella
coach complete with horses dyed cotton-candy
pink. For her Politically Incorrect party, guests
were greeted by a live elephant, and actors impersonated
political figures inside. Her Super Bowl
party featured iconic California scenes, from an
acre-long Golden Gate Bridge to Seal Rock, complete
with live seals.
Aside from these elaborate fundraising affairs
and her many other organized efforts to help different
groups of people in need, Manus has given
herself another challenge: to perform at least one
50 South Bay Accent
random act of kindness for a stranger every day.
She calls these her RAKs.
They can be anything, like talking to an elderly
person sitting alone on a bench, buying
sandwiches for people or taking a grocery bill
for someone who’s in the line with food stamps.
And sometimes, the RAK can be much bigger.
“I bought an Uber driver a trip to Ethiopia to
see his mother,” she recalls. “He was telling me
he hadn’t seen his mother for a while, and at the
end of an hour drive, I put him on the phone
with my travel agent to make the arrangements.
He started crying. Later, he called me from
Ethiopia and translated what his mother was
saying to me: ‘May God bless you with as many
tears of joy that I’m shedding now.’ It was such
an amazing moment.”
While one hears a lot about Manus’ fundraising
balls, and she occasionally shares stories
about her RAKs, Shea says she doesn’t often
talk about many of the ways she helps people,
especially in other countries.
“She’s not big on self-promotion,” he notes.
“In today’s society, you really see a lot about the
me-me-me-me thing, but she’s really about the
Lindsey Curtis, executive director of Manus’
family office, agrees. In the course of handling
DREW ALTIZER (2)
Jillian Manus and
Jillian Manus at
her annual Valentine’s