Better Together: San Diego Grantmakers’ 40th Anniversary Event Unites Grantmakers and Grantees
By Sarah Beauchemin
Ever wondered how grantmaking and corporate philanthropy work in San Diego? Who are these giving institutions and how do they connect with one another? Most importantly, how do they impact San Diego communities?
San Diego Grantmakers (SDG) was founded in 1976 to answer those very questions and more. It is an association for organizations and individuals who provide strategic and significant funding to multiple nonprofits and social enterprises, offering them opportunities for learning, collaboration, and advocacy.
Photo: The San Diego Grantmakers 40th Anniversary Celebration on July 25, 2016 brought together local philanthropists and their nonprofit, public and private partners to recognize their positive impact throughout the county and beyond.
Bridging the Divide Between Grantmakers and Nonprofits
Visit San Diego Grantmakers online or call (858) 875-3333 to get involved with this formal association of philanthropists, advisors, and impact investors and access resources to increase the impact of your giving.
“Instead of operating in silos, philanthropic institutions can have a much greater impact by collaborating,” said Nancy Jamison, SDG’s president and CEO. In fact, the theme “Better Together” underpinned SDG’s 40th Anniversary Celebration, held at Francis Parker School on July 25, 2016.
But “Better Together” extends beyond unity among just grantmakers. SDG’s 40th anniversary event also sought to unite grantmakers with their nonprofit grantees, giving them a chance to interact away from daily work in an informal, fun environment.
Facilitating collaborative efforts among funders and other community stakeholders is core to SDG’s services, and philanthropists increasingly recognize that closer relationships with grantees and other business and civic leaders is critical for achieving shared goals in the community.
Photo: Two of SDG’s founding members, Janine Mason (left), executive director of Fieldstone Foundation, and Judy McDonald, a trustee of The Parker Foundation, reflected upon how the organization and philanthropy in San Diego has expanded since it was founded in 1976.
One SDG collaboration in particular stands out as a true testament to the extraordinary power of government, private sector, nonprofits and philanthropy working together: the Military Transition Support Project (MTSP). After two years of planning, advocacy and fundraising, the MTSP Community Plan was realized with the creation of zero8hundred, a nonprofit organization that, in partnership with 2-1-1 San Diego, maintains a public website of local services and resources for transitioning military personnel, as well as provides peer “navigators” who support service members and their families after transition.
Bill York, executive vice president of 2-1-1 San Diego, spoke at SDG’s 40th Anniversary about MTSP and its resulting impact on the local and national level.
“Organizations and veterans’ groups like the San Diego Veterans Coalition and the San Diego Military Family Collaborative have always done impactful, meaningful work. But while we were all doing great work, we were all doing it individually. We all knew the importance but hadn’t quite reached the point of having the whole community involved,” York said. “SDG and the project funders were able to bring the community together and build MTSP – community groups like the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, Navy Region Southwest, the San Diego Regional Economic Development Council, schools, nonprofits, and philanthropy. The widest table ever had been set to create a new transition experience for San Diego military personnel. Organizations can’t do that on their own.”
Connecting Many Forms of Philanthropy
Even within the funding community, SDG brings together a variety of types of grantmaking institutions and individuals, which was also part of the 40th anniversary celebration. David Lynn, SDG’s board chair, explains how philanthropy comes in many different forms.
“Obviously, volunteering makes a huge difference,” Lynn said. “But in terms of financial support, giving circles like the Latina Giving Circle and others are examples of the great, new ways people are able to join together to pool and leverage their money in much more significant ways and decide together where their funds will have the most impact.”
Contribution requirements for giving circles can start at a couple hundred dollars, making it accessible for people to join and become philanthropists together. Then the circle as a whole can donate thousands of dollars to a specific cause and make a remarkable difference.
Nancy Jamison echoed Lynn’s sentiment of collaborating to leverage money in significant ways. Specifically, she pointed out three trends on the horizon for helping philanthropists to have an even greater impact in the future:
- Equity – Grantmakers are focusing on the inequities in systems like education, justice, and health, and stepping up efforts to pay more attention to institutional racism and help funders truly understand how to move past words and into action
- Impact Investing – Funders aren’t only talking about how to give money away, but also about impact investing – where funding is provided to endeavors that generate positive social or environmental outcomes and financial returns, potentially increasing the number of people using their capital for good
- Helping small- to medium-size businesses give back – Since these businesses are the next frontier in giving for our region, supporting practical ways for them to give back through grantmaking, in-kind products and services, and employee volunteerism is an important way to strengthen philanthropy
Ultimately, collaboration means being heard, and being heard means invoking change. “Silence is not an option,” Jamison concluded in her anniversary event speech. “And our voices are getting louder.”