Commonly known as the “Giving Season,” the period of November through December is widely recognized as the most charitable time of the year. According to a 2020 report from BlackBaud, nonprofit organizations raised about 25 percent of their funds in November and December.

The Giving Season kicks off on Giving Tuesday — the Tuesday after Thanksgiving — and runs through December 31, the IRS deadline for yearly tax-deduction eligibility.

Local Need

San Diego is known as one of the most giving cities in the country and that generosity has continued during the COVID-19 pandemic as many local community-based organizations have reported an increase in demand for their services.

Unfortunately, unmet need persists in San Diego County as those same organizations reported that they were unable to meet that increased demand, according to the University of San Diego’s State of Nonprofits 2021 annual report.

The report notes that about 60 percent of the local nonprofit leaders surveyed said their organizations fared better than they had originally expected at the onset of the pandemic. This has led to reports from the nonprofit sector of a relatively positive financial position, with many leaders predicting stability or growth in 2022. 

Thanks to the emergency relief provided by government and community foundations, like the San Diego COVID-19 Community Response Fund, more nonprofits are reporting that they have six or more months of cash savings. That said, arts and culture nonprofits and smaller community-based organizations continue to face larger losses of income and more difficulty in accessing emergency relief as compared to others.

By the Numbers

Thankfully, donor-advised fundholders were prolific with their grantmaking in November and December 2021, especially in comparison to the same two-month period in 2020. Their grantmaking is an example of how we can realize just, equitable and resilient communities in San Diego and elsewhere through charitable giving.


During the 2021 Giving Season, more than 1,000 San Diego Foundation donor-advised fundholders awarded more than $27 million in grants to their favorite nonprofits and causes. This compares to approximately $10 million in grants awarded in November and December 2020, a 170% increase year-over-year.

Popular causes during the 2021 Giving Season included:

  • Education: from preschool to universities, donors granted more than $17 million to schools, scholarships and education nonprofits and services.
  • Arts, Culture and Humanities: whether it was museums, historical or performing arts organizations or public media nonprofits, donors granted more than $3 million.
  • Human Services: nonprofit organizations providing services to children, families, seniors, newcomers and immigrants, victims of domestic violence and more received more than $1.9 million from donors.

Gifts Large and Small

In November and December 2021, fundholders awarded more than a dozen grants that were equal to or greater than $100,000 each. The causes they supported ranged from education and youth development to the arts, culture and humanities.

But it wasn’t all large grants, which proves that donor-advised funds are a vehicle that enables giving at all levels. Altogether, more than 500 grants of $1,000 or less were awarded by fundholders, totaling more than $300,000 to various nonprofit organizations.

Learn More

Philanthropy comes in all shapes and sizes and The San Diego Foundation’s team is here to help. Our experts can help you match your giving to your needs and passions to the need in our local communities. Learn more about becoming a donor.