Meet our Giving Team: Pauline Martinson

As Director, Philanthropy Advisor, Pauline works with donors to fully leverage the impact of their giving, increase donor-advised fund giving and help donors make an impact on issues they care about.
As Director, Philanthropy Advisor, Pauline works with donors to fully leverage the impact of their giving, increase donor-advised fund giving and help donors make an impact on issues they care about.

The San Diego Foundation Development & Stewardship Team is here to help you by delivering world-class philanthropy and service, and expertly responding to your needs.

In this Meet our Giving Team blog series, we’re interviewing each of our team members so you can learn more about the individuals – both professionally and personally – who are helping you give confidently to make the most social impact. In today’s post, meet Pauline Martinson, Director, Philanthropic Advisor.


What is your favorite part about working at TSDF?

The amazing staff! The staff that works at TSDF are truly the best of the best. I appreciate the camaraderie within our team. Pre-COVID times, we threw some great potlucks, too. I also appreciate that every day I am contributing to San Diego in a positive way. I am grateful for our generous donors and strong partnerships in the community.

What do you enjoy most about partnering with donors and philanthropists?

Our donors are truly inspiring – they give selflessly and are so generous and humble. It’s interesting to hear about their passions and their drive to make San Diego a better place. I’ve learned about so many facets of San Diego from our donors, and I appreciate how much I get to interact with different community members and learn about their interest areas.

What inspires you?

The nonprofits we serve. Having led an environmental organization for 12 years, I know running a nonprofit is a lot of work! I believe our local community organizations bridge significant gaps in our community, from getting the hungry fed to showing youth the importance of safe and clean outdoor spaces. I’m so proud of The Foundation’s role in bringing attention and resources to those who are underserved in our region.

How did you get started working in the nonprofit sector?

I journeyed into the nonprofit sector in 2006 when I started at I Love A Clean San Diego as Program Manager, and a year later took over as Executive Director. It was challenging and very rewarding work to grow and enhance San Diego’s environment as well as bring others along to understand the importance of our environment. I’ve never looked back. I’m a natural-born do-gooder!

How did you first learn about TSDF?

The nonprofit I led had a fabulous opportunity to lease office space in The San Diego Foundation’s building. Being in the same office building really elevated us in many ways, and it was a privilege to be close to the ‘movers and shakers’ in philanthropy. We accessed TSDF’s grant resources and were lucky to be selected by TSDF and its donor-advised fund holders for grant dollars. All philanthropic roads in San Diego lead to The San Diego Foundation.

How do you make time for work/life balance?

Exercise and getting outside. During COVID, I learned to love online pilates, barre and yoga workouts when I couldn’t get to studios or go outside. I’ve also become a fan of biking since I got an electric bike. I bike more and drive less and I love the wind in my face and the unique vantage point you have when you ride a bike – much different than driving or walking.

Why do you think San Diego is such a generous region?

San Diego is such a wonderful place and has a small town, community feel, despite being a big region. In San Diego, we pay a sunshine tax for our amazing weather and diverse natural resources – people really commit to living here. It’s expensive but worth it and I think that so many of our residents want to give back to our community to keep it the amazing place it is!

What social impact area matters to you the most?

The environment, and teaching youth and families the importance of getting outside and enjoying the outdoors. I believe nature is so beneficial for your mind, body and spirit. I often take time to walk in the sand to ground myself and clear my head. It’s so important, especially as we spend so much time on our computers and phones.

When you have 30 minutes of free time, how do you pass the time?

I pass the time with a quick 28-minute workout on Obé Fitness. My quarantine pastime was catching up on the phone with friends while walking around my neighborhood.

What’s your favorite spot in your neighborhood?

I live in University Heights and love Trolley Barn Park. I also enjoy walking through neighborhoods along the canyons nearby.

What’s your favorite outdoor activity?

I love snorkeling in tropical waters, but more frequently, outdoor yoga.

If you could meet anyone, living or dead, who would you meet and why?

Amma – the Hugging Goddess. I hear a long hug from her is life-changing.

What is your favorite destination outside of San Diego?

I enjoy visiting Croatia or the Almafi coast in Italy, but Hawaii is at the top of my list.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received?

Don’t sweat the small stuff!

Who is your role model?

Ellen Browning Scripps, who left a legacy conserving open spaces and animal welfare in Southern California.