With roots in San Diego County dating back 140 years, San Diego Gas & Electric Company (SDG&E) has a long history of approaching corporate giving through a unique lens.

SDG&E aligns its philanthropy and employee programs with causes that tie back to its mission – Building the cleanest, safest and most reliable energy infrastructure company in America. The company’s key focus areas include environmental education and stewardship, safety of local communities, and inspiring the next generation of diverse youth to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

“Our charitable efforts are guided by three values that define our company culture: Championing people, shaping the future, and doing the right thing,” said Scott Crider, senior vice president of customer services and external affairs at SDG&E.  

A People Company

In his role, Crider oversees SDG&E’s Community Relations team, which leads the company’s corporate philanthropy, employee giving and volunteer programs. The team works with numerous local nonprofit and community-based organizations to help meet local needs.

“We have 4,500 employees who care not just about what’s in front of them, but are also very invested in the communities where they live and work,” Crider said.

Three-quarters of SDG&E officers and directors serve on nonprofit boards. It’s rare for more than a couple weeks to pass without seeing an employee volunteering for a beach cleanup or educating middle-school girls about paths to STEM careers.

In addition to SDG&E awarding millions to local charities in 2020, employees donated more than $750,000 from their own pockets, most of which was matched by the company.

The Multiplier Effect: Partnering for Greater Impact

Least Tern Habitat Restoration

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit San Diego in March 2020, SDG&E leaders knew they needed to respond swiftly, and turned to its long-standing philanthropic partner: The San Diego Foundation.

In 2019, SDG&E had opened a corporate-advised fund at The Foundation to support its corporate philanthropy. SDG&E has also partnered with The Foundation for decades in environmental conservation, resulting in more than $27 million in cumulative giving through the community foundation.

The San Diego COVID-19 Community Response Fund, hosted and administered by The San Diego Foundation, presented an opportunity for local leaders to deploy resources on a rolling basis to nonprofit organizations that were supporting low-income workers, families and vulnerable communities most affected by the coronavirus crisis.

Along with a coalition of regional partners, including San Diego County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher, United Way of San Diego County and San Diego & Imperial Counties Labor Council, SDG&E became one of the fund’s founding partners by seeding it with $1 million.

“This partnership lets us leverage our giving with the resources of others to produce a much greater impact,” Crider said. “Without The Foundation, we wouldn’t have had that multiplier effect.”

That multiplier effect is evident in how much the COVID-19 Community Response Fund grew. Just 15 months later, The San Diego Foundation turned an initial $1.3 million relief fund into $64 million granted to more than 250 nonprofits to support essential pandemic relief, rescue and recovery efforts.

“It’s extraordinary,” he exclaimed.

Supporting Black San Diegans

The pandemic also laid bare many social and racial inequities in San Diego. It became clear to SDG&E’s leadership that those who needed the most support were people in BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) communities.

The Black community, specifically, faced a greater health risk to COVID-19 because the community suffers from higher rates of heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes. This is in addition to Black San Diegans being disproportionately impacted in homelessness, unemployment and home ownership.

SDG&E teamed up with The Foundation once more to make an impact.

In September 2020, SDG&E seeded $250,000 to help launch The Foundation’s Black Community Investment Fund, which prioritizes and invests in community-led, innovative efforts that increase racial equity and generational wealth for Black San Diegans.

Grantmaking focuses on four key pillars impacting economic prosperity among Black San Diegans – education, employment, housing and entrepreneurism.

“The fund provided us the opportunity to address underlying inequities,” Crider said. “We’re not applying Band-Aids. We’re treating the problem by building generational wealth for a community historically kept out of achieving generational wealth.”

The Foundation awarded the fund’s first $400,000 in grants in April 2021.

Better Decisions are Made Together

In addition to its own community initiatives, SDG&E plans to continue partnering with The San Diego Foundation when opportunities for greater, collective impact arise.

 “You can make an impact through philanthropy if you go alone. But you can multiply that impact by working with the community of people represented at The Foundation,” Crider said.

Learn more about The San Diego Foundation Custom Corporate Giving program today.