2020 Annual Report

Better Together

On behalf of The San Diego Foundation staff and Board of Governors, we are honored to share the 2020 Annual Report with you.

The past year has challenged us to come together like never before. Thanks to your generosity, The San Diego Foundation granted more than $77 million to nonprofits that strengthen our community – the most charitable year in our history. Collectively, we also surpassed $1 billion in assets, a true testament to the unmatched kindness of San Diego donors. As we celebrate these milestones, we also recognize the ongoing challenges we face as a community.

For all the positivity that philanthropy brings to the region, it is difficult not to focus on the hardship and loss that the events of 2020 have brought to our doorstep. As we share this year’s Annual Report, COVID-19 continues to harm our communities, the devastating effects of climate change mount, and the generations-long fight for racial equity persists.

These are challenges we must meet head on. And we will, together.

We began Fiscal Year 2020 with ambitious goals to adopt a new strategic plan that would guide us into the future. While we had to put those efforts on pause, we made it a priority to update our mission and values to reflect a renewed commitment to community and a path forward with purpose.

To date, our COVID-19 Community Response Fund has contributed more than $52 million to nonprofits working on the frontline of the pandemic. Our longstanding programs continue to help young San Diegans and families most in need. And our Black Community Investment Fund just launched to strengthen racial equity in the region for current and future generations of Black San Diegans.

Over the coming months, we will continue to meet the evolving needs of San Diegans while also finalizing our strategic plan to help us lay the foundation for a brighter future. At every step of the way, we promise that The San Diego Foundation will lead with its values and listen with humility and respect.

Our future will be built upon inspiring enduring philanthropy and enabling community solutions.

The past year has reminded us of one important thing. Even though we may face an uncertain future, there’s one constant that remains – San Diegans and San Diego are better when we work together.

Best Wishes,

P. Kay Coleman
Chair, Board of Governors

Mark A. Stuart
President & CEO

$77.8M Granted

2020 marked a historic year for charitable giving in San Diego. Thanks to the generosity of thousands of donors, businesses and organizations, we were able to grant a record amount to nonprofits serving the needs of our communities. This year’s 6,353 nonprofit grants totaling $77.8 million build upon $52.5 million granted in 2019 and $67.4 million in 2018.

Taking the High Road

Juan Pablo Sanchez has always believed in investing in his community. But when the coronavirus pandemic hit San Diego, resulting in stay-at-home orders, the general manager of Super Cocina restaurant in City Heights was unsure how much longer his family-owned business could survive. "We were having a really hard time and had to start implementing furloughs, start cutting back hours, and had to take out a loan just to keep afloat," Pablo explained.

That’s when a grant from The San Diego Foundation’s COVID-19 Community Response Fund and San Diego Workforce Partnership made a difference. Pablo was able to stay afloat in large part through the burgeoning, pay-it-forward High Road Kitchens program that provided free meals, in addition to food on a sliding scale, to low-wage workers, first-responders and healthcare professionals during the crisis. The High Road Kitchens has allowed restaurants to keep their employees working while also helping community members experiencing food insecurity.

Meeting the Need

When the needs of our region evolve, charitable giving must evolve with it. As San Diego’s community foundation, we are committed to addressing emerging challenges, both through our own discretionary grantmaking as well as the support we provide to donors and partners.

  • Health & Human Services $23,042,661

    Health & Human Services

    Human Services$15,502,266
    Health Care$2,562,612
    Public Safety, Disaster Preparedness & Relief$596,129
    Diseases, Disorders & Medical Disciplines$774,379
    Mental Health & Crisis Intervention$699,919
    Food, Agriculture & Nutrition$970,973
    Crime & Legal-Related$457,837
    Recreation & Sports$326,535
    Medical Research$526,508
    Housing & Shelter$503,253
    Social Science$750
  • Education $15,437,660


    Higher Education$3,063,396
    Scholarships & Student Financial Aid$3,495,734
    Pre-K Through High School$1,135,269
    Fund Raising & Fund Distribution$3,638,634
    Other Education$1,858,129
    Educational Services$754,030
    Single Organization Support$581,907
    Student Services$265,669
  • Civil Society $10,119,790

    Civil Society

    Philanthropy, Voluntarism & Grantmaking Foundations$2,578,239
    Public & Societal Benefit$2,914,521
    Community Improvement & Capacity Building$2,391,319
    Science & Technology$1,881,735
    Civil Rights, Social Action & Advocacy$353,976
  • Art & Culture $9,769,081

    Art & Culture

    Symphony Orchestras$3,348,415
    Other Arts & Culture$1,272,875
    Media & Communications$851,864
    Arts Education$116,672
  • Youth Development $9,066,818

    Youth Development

    Youth Development Programs$7,448,470
    Youth Centers & Clubs$459,602
    Other Youth Development$871,722
    Scouts Organizations$111,411
    Big Brothers & Big Sisters$85,062
    Youth Leadership$90,551
  • Environment $6,910,107


    Natural Resources Conservation & Protection$783,479
    Land Resources Conservation$967,594
    Water Resources, Wetlands Conservation & Management$747,125
    Environmental Education$357,715
    Forest Conservation$141,000
    Other Environment$428,199
    Alliances & Advocacy$64,700
    Environmental Beautification$37,827
    Botanical Gardens & Arboreta$9,185

Other grantmaking totaling $3,470,610 includes international, foreign affair & national security, mutual & membership benefit, and religion-related grants.

*Unaudited as of June 30, 2020

“The childcare sector is very important as our economy cannot be sustainable if parents do not have safe places for their children to be cared for, and educated while they are working.”

Nathan fletcher San Diego County Supervisor & Co-Chair, COVID-19 Subcommittee

Supporting Children and Families

Affordable and safe childcare is essential to the ongoing health of our region. On August 4, 2020, the San Diego County Board of Supervisors voted to activate $25 million of federal CARES Act funding through The San Diego Foundation to assist childcare providers in San Diego County. Working alongside Child Development Associates and YMCA of San Diego County, The San Diego Foundation helped more than 3,330 providers keep their facilities safe and open for San Diego families amid the pandemic.

In addition to the $25 million initiative with San Diego County, The San Diego Foundation committed more than $5 million during FY2020 to support children, families and providers in San Diego County through its COVID-19 efforts and Early Childhood Initiative. This grantmaking reflects a long-term commitment from The San Diego Foundation to promote increased early childhood education opportunities and systems change that will lead to a stronger economy, more opportunity and more vibrant communities.

Crisis Philanthropy

On March 16, 2020, a coalition of regional partners, including San Diego County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher, San Diego Gas & Electric, The San Diego Foundation, United Way of San Diego County, San Diego & Imperial Counties Labor Council and NEWS 8 joined together to create the San Diego COVID-19 Community Response Fund. Since its creation, the fund has granted more than $50 million to support San Diegans in need, particularly those disproportionately affected by the global pandemic and its economic consequences.

  • Financial Assistance | 39%
  • Food Security | 16%
  • Education/Digital Divide | 15%
  • Medical Support | 8%
  • Childcare | 7%
  • Workforce Development | 7%
  • Other Emergent Needs | 7%
  • Partner Support | 4%

*Excludes $25 million from the County of San Diego for childcare providers and $10 million from the City of San Diego and the County for an emergency childcare voucher program.

Nonprofits to the Rescue

Nestled on the hillside of Manzanita Canyon in a community rich in ethnic and racial diversity, Ocean Discovery Institute has long sought to empower young people to transform their lives through hands-on science experiences and leadership training. When COVID-19 hit, the nonprofit organization adapted its operations to provide at-home educational support to students, while also adding food security to its list of services.

Every day, staff and volunteers at Ocean Discovery Institute greet families with STEM-to-Go packets and nutritious meals. "I have four children and we have been there picking up meals just about every day and picking up science packets and other educational activities every week," shared Blanca Banks of City Heights. "The support has been amazing."

For San Diegans.
By San Diegans.

For 45 years, The San Diego Foundation has been committed to supporting the goals of philanthropists and uplifting the work of our local nonprofit community. Together, we are a catalyst for positive, lasting change for families across San Diego County. While our generous donors also support global and national causes, the majority of giving remains here in the region we call home.

  • San Diego


  • California


  • US & International


  • San Diego
  • CA
  • US+

*Unaudited as of June 30, 2020

Leaving a Legacy for Good

Diane Johnson was no stranger to challenges. Coming from a poor background, she fought to make a better life for herself. As an adult, she found herself taking night classes to complete her law degree. Later, those extra hours and hard work paid off when she became the first in-house, general counsel for St. Jude Medical at a time when women in executive leadership was uncommon. Then, after a successful career, Diane continued to help others through her volunteerism and philanthropy.

Before she passed away, Diane established a legacy fund at The San Diego Foundation so that her passion for giving back would live on. Since then, the Diane Johnson Charitable Fund has impacted countless lives, including dozens of students who found themselves in need when COVID-19 struck. Left without the resources that college campuses offer when classes moved online, the Diane Johnson Charitable Fund helped pay for students’ expenses so they didn’t have to drop out of school or fall behind their peers.

Diane Johnson

A passion for giving back that lives on

Investing in a Brighter Future

"COVID-19 created significant economic volatility in early 2020 but since then markets have recovered and donors invested for the long term are benefitting from The San Diego Foundation’s diversified portfolio. Our endowment portfolio outperformed its policy index, maximizing the giving power for donors who want to have an impact in San Diego today, and for future generations."

MATT FETTIG, Chief Investment Officer at The San Diego Foundation

*The Foundation’s Policy Index is a composite of indexes reflecting our diversified portfolio, specifically: 49% MSCI ACWI IMI (net), 17% BBgBarc US Universal Bond Index, 9.1% NCREIF ODCE, 15% HFRI FOF Index, 6% Cambridge Assoc. U.S. Private Equity Index lagged 1 Quarter, 3.9% Bloomberg Commodity Index.

View Our Investments

*Unaudited as of June 30, 2020

“In the middle of the pandemic, the needs of our community have been so overwhelming and immediate that joining together with the entire San Diego community has been the best way to help.”

Dede Alpert Donor-Advised Fundholder

Philanthropy in Action

Each year, The San Diego Foundation helps thousands of philanthropists accomplish their charitable goals. This year, we’ve been deeply grateful for the number of donors who have stepped up, together, to support San Diegans in need through the COVID-19 Community Response Fund. In FY2020, more than 3,300 individuals, families and businesses contributed to the COVID-19 Community Response Fund, in addition to donor-advised funds that have provided millions more to meet the needs of the crisis in San Diego County. Together, we have granted $77 million to nonprofits that strengthen our community – the most charitable year in our history. Grantmaking is driven largely by donors at The San Diego Foundation, represented by the 63%, while additional grantmaking is led by The San Diego Foundation’s staff and Board of Governors, which was 37% this past year due in large part to the COVID-19 Community Response Fund.

  • 63% Donor Advised
  • 37% Community & Field of Interest

The San Diego Foundation is proud to work with donors who are committed to giving generously and giving often by using their donor-advised funds to make immediate impact in the region. In order to maximize the impact of the region’s charitable resources, The San Diego Foundation encourages donors to give generously and consistently to those in need.

26% Donor-Advised Fund Annual Payout Rate
See New Funds

*Unaudited as of June 30, 2020

“Donate the entire balance of my donor-advised fund to support COVID-19 relief.”

at The San Diego Foundation

Donor-advised funds have proven to be a critical resource for San Diegans throughout the pandemic. On top of more than $52 million donated to and granted from the COVID-19 Community Response Fund, philanthropists have mobilized their fund to support the community in historic ways. When the pandemic hit, numerous donors at The San Diego Foundation reached out to our Giving Team and asked that every last dollar in their donor-advised funds, totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars, be given to support San Diegans impacted by COVID-19.

“As members of the community, all of us at SDG&E are proud to serve the residents of San Diego County and help those most impacted during challenging times.”

Caroline Winn President of San Diego Gas & Electric

Partnering with Business

San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) has long been one of San Diego County’s most charitable businesses. When the COVID-19 pandemic began to impact the region in early 2020, it was no surprise that the company was one of the first to take action. SDG&E contributed $1 million to help launch the COVID-19 Community Response Fund at The San Diego Foundation and has since donated millions more to nonprofits working on the frontline of the pandemic.

Giving Together, Forever

The San Diego region is known as one of the most generous communities in the nation. That generosity is reflected in the 2,256 charitable donor-advised funds at The San Diego Foundation, including 1,295 endowment funds, which will continue to benefit San Diegans for generations to come.



Regional Affiliates Answering the Call

For more than a decade, the Regional Affiliate Program has provided an opportunity for friends, neighbors and local businesses to join together and help the communities of 4S Ranch-Del Sur, Carlsbad, Chula Vista, Escondido, La Jolla, Oceanside, Ramona and Rancho Bernardo. The dedication of each member and volunteer has reshaped the way our communities care for one another, and in 2020 that generosity was on full display when the Affiliates used their annual grant cycles to help individuals and families impacted by COVID-19. Collectively, regional affiliates across the County granted more than $184,000 to COVID-19 relief and recovery efforts.

Bridging the Digital Divide

Growing up in a family struggling to make ends meet, Dora Almeraz never had a computer as a child. With schools closed and classes going online during the COVID-19 pandemic, Dora wanted to make sure her 9-year-old daughter didn’t suffer the same setback. Thanks to a grant from the COVID-19 Community Response Fund to Computers 2 Kids, a nonprofit addressing the digital divide by providing technology to thousands of youth each year, Dora’s daughter and thousands of other San Diego students now have the tools they need to succeed despite the challenges of distanced learning.

Equity & Climate

As we continue to address the effects of COVID-19 in our region, we remain steadfast in our commitment to equity. This year, we launched a Social Equity Collaborative Fund initiative that granted $400,000 to four local nonprofits focused on climate equity to ensure all people are protected from the harmful effects of climate change. In total, our Climate Initiative invested more than $700,000 this year to build a more resilient region.

“Our work will not be complete until everyone who calls San Diego County home has the opportunity to prosper, the opportunity to thrive and, most of all, the opportunity to feel like they belong.”

Mark Stuart President & CEO

Our Values

As part of an ongoing strategic planning process, the Board of Governors embraced a reframed mission and set of values that pave a new path forward for the organization. The San Diego Foundation inspires enduring philanthropy and enables community solutions to improve the quality of life in our region.

We Value:

  • All People

    We act with integrity and respect for one another and the communities we serve.

  • All Partners

    We engage diverse perspectives to foster collaboration and innovative solutions.

  • Our Region

    Together, we strive for an inclusive community where everyone has equitable access to opportunity.