Frequently Asked Questions about the Strategic Plan

What is The San Diego Foundation’s new focus?

The Foundation is focusing on just, equitable, and resilient communities through four strategic priorities:

  1. Advancing racial and social justice
  2. Fostering equity of opportunity
  3. Building resilient communities
  4. Delivering world-class philanthropy

Why did The Foundation choose this direction?

Led by The Foundation’s Board of Governors, two years ago we started with engaging more than 4,000 San Diego donors, nonprofits, and community and civic leaders. We asked them to share their thoughts about why The Foundation exists, our strengths, and what they hope we will accomplish in the next decade. We also asked them, “what are our most challenging regional issues?” and “which communities need the most support?”. Our new strategic framework reflects the aspirations of our community.

What does the new strategic plan mean for existing donors?

For more than 45 years, The Foundation has supported the charitable goals of local philanthropists and businesses and uplifted the work of San Diego’s nonprofit community. Our commitment to serving donors, estate planning attorneys, wealth advisors and other professional advisors is not changing. We will continue to help those who are charitably inclined to accomplish their goals and grow their giving each year for both lifetime and legacy giving. We will also provide education for donors about our community need, connect them to impactful nonprofits and explore opportunities to collaborate in addressing regional challenges.

How will this impact donor-advised funds?

Donors who have donor-advised funds at The Foundation can continue to recommend grants to qualified charitable organizations of their choosing. They will see improvements in our service and opportunities for them to engage in and impact community solutions through grantmaking as they experience our commitment to deliver world-class philanthropy.

Why is The Foundation focusing specifically on Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) communities?

The Foundation’s new initiatives will positively impact many communities in need, including but not limited to BIPOC communities. Our new priorities will positively impact:

  • Low-income families and students
  • Immigrants, refugees and English-language learners
  • San Diegans experiencing homelessness, joblessness, mental/behavioral health issues and overall health inequities
  • BIPOC communities and businesses
  • LGBTQ communities
  • Foster and other system-involved youth
  • Nonprofits serving the above
  • Others

How will the new strategic plan impact discretionary grantmaking?

Discretionary grantmaking, also known as broad purpose or unrestricted giving, allows community experts on our staff and Board of Governors to use discretionary funding to address concerns that are of vital importance to our community.

As the needs of our region evolve, charitable giving must evolve with it. As San Diego’s regional community foundation, we are committed to addressing emerging challenges, both through our own discretionary grantmaking as well as through the support we provide to donors and partners. The vast majority of our discretionary grantmaking will be directly aligned to priorities and initiatives outlined in our new strategic plan. Many existing Foundation programs contribute to our new strategic goals and may align with future grantmaking.

Will grantmaking be different going forward?

Every investment The Foundation makes moving forward will be measured by its impact towards our vision of just, equitable, and resilient communities to improve quality of life in the San Diego region. Grantmaking from discretionary funding The Foundation directs (versus from donor-advised funds) will align with the priorities and initiatives in our new strategic plan.

Does this mean that if organizations do not align with the strategic plan, they will no longer be eligible for a grant?

Any 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization located in or providing services to San Diego County is eligible to apply for grant funding. Donors who have donor-advised funds at The Foundation will continue to recommend grants to qualified charitable organizations of their choosing.

Through discretionary grantmaking, however, The Foundation will fund organizations doing work that will advance our strategic priorities. This will include some organizations that have been funded by The Foundation in the past and others that have not. We are committed to making these changes thoughtfully and to continue communicating available grant opportunities.

What does the new strategy mean for grant recipients that The Foundation has funded for a long time?

Many of the organizations that The Foundation has supported with general operating or other grant support will have the opportunity to compete for funding under the new priorities, to the extent that their work is aligned. There are also organizations that have not historically been funded by The Foundation that will have new opportunities to partner with us.

Will The Foundation consider responsive grants?

As San Diego’s community foundation, we remain committed to being responsive to unexpected community needs and opportunities. However, responsive grantmaking is the exception rather than the rule. We will continue to solicit new ideas and innovation for grantmaking that align with our strategic priorities.

Will policy play a role in The Foundation’s work?

Grantmaking alone will not help us achieve our vision for San Diego. We believe that changes in policies and new policies are critical to achieve just, equitable, and resilient communities. We will support community partners and grant recipients helping to effect policy change aligned with our strategic priorities and may lead efforts when there is alignment with our vision.

It is new for us to use our own voice and platform to engage in policy and advocacy. Looking ahead, we may support the lobbying activities of grant partners, and we ourselves may engage in lobbying activities in support of a given policy.

How will The Foundation know if what it is doing is working?

The Foundation will measure impact at the community and regional level. Community may refer to a population, a sector, or a specific neighborhood with common goals. We will also monitor social, policy and economic factors aligned with our vision that influence the wellbeing of the region.

How can I join The Foundation to realize just, equitable and resilient communities?

We invite philanthropists, businesses, professional advisors and nonprofit organizations to join us in realizing our strategic plan:

  • Donors: Each year, we help thousands of San Diego individuals, families and businesses accomplish their charitable goals and maximize their impact in the region.
  • Professional Advisors: We act as a charitable partner to estate planning attorneys, wealth advisors and other advisors, helping your clients realize their financial planning goals and maximize their tax deductions.
  • Nonprofits: We help nonprofit programs and organizations better serve those in need and provide greater equity and opportunity for all San Diegans.

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