Multi-Generational Families Give With Gusto at The San Diego Foundation

Fleet Family
Local families such as the Fleets have been giving back to San Diego for multiple generations.

San Diegans are among the most generous in the nation, according to Charity Navigator’s America’s Most Charitable Cities rankings.

Local families such as the Fleets and Fletchers, who have been giving for multiple generations, certainly are notable examples of this accolade.

In the 1980s, the two families converted private family foundations into donor advised funds at The San Diego Foundation. Today, both families have been generating significant, positive impacts in the region through philanthropy.

Private Foundations vs. Donor Advised Funds

When new to philanthropy, families with considerable wealth often consider creating a private foundation, particularly in cases where charitable assets exceed $1 million.

Private foundations offer opportunities for family members to serve as employees or members of the board. Perceived benefits can also include complete control over the investment of assets and grantmaking decisions. Besides a required 5 percent distribution of assets each year, private foundations also require annual filings with the IRS, and other reporting. Meanwhile, charitable deductions are limited to 30 percent of adjusted gross income for cash.

Donor advised funds, on the other hand, are vehicles associated with a charitable institution such as a community foundation or national gift fund.

Individuals, families, and corporate entities establish funds with charitable assets that are invested together to maximize financial return.

Benefits of donor advised funds include anonymity, minimal administrative effort, and ease of grantmaking. Donor advised funds at community foundations also benefit from access to regional knowledge regarding the nonprofit sector.

With support from The San Diego Foundation, we get to focus on the joy of giving together as a family

Joy of Giving Back

The Fleet and Fletcher private family foundations already had multiple generations of advisors when they explored donor advised funds at The San Diego Foundation. Increased ease of disbursing grants and streamlining operations were important considerations to the families.

According to Lori Fleet, great-granddaughter of Reuben H. Fleet, converting the Fleet Family Foundation to a donor advised fund at The San Diego Foundation enabled the family to enjoy the experience of giving back instead of bearing the administrative burden of managing a foundation.

“With support from The San Diego Foundation, we get to focus on the joy of giving together as a family,” said Lori. She added that family members appreciate how the Foundation conducts due diligence to ensure grants are distributed to qualified, eligible nonprofits. Lori also shared that donor research and facilitating site visits are important advantages of working with The Foundation.

Bob and Ruth Fletcher
Bob Fletcher and his wife, Ruth, convene their family twice per year at The Foundation to discuss community needs and recommend grants.

Leaving a Legacy

The San Diego Foundation can help engage different generations to shape a family’s overall charitable legacy. Our staff has been trained in multi-generational philanthropic advising to present giving strategies that appeal to all ages.

According to Bob Fletcher, grandson of Col. Ed Fletcher, “converting the private foundation to a donor advised fund at The San Diego Foundation allowed our large extended family to experience the joy of carrying on the legacy of our grandparents”.

Bob shared that the extended Fletcher family convenes twice per year at The Foundation to discuss community needs and recommend grants. “We use these meetings not only to carry out the family’s philanthropic mission, but as a reunion and time to reconnect,” he added.

For more information on how you can solidify your family legacy through a donor advised fund at The San Diego Foundation, please contact Pearl Hoeglund at pearlh@sdfoundation.org.

Start Your Philanthropy with a Donor Advised Fund


About Keely Bamberg

Keely Bamberg

As Director of Donor Relations, Keely and her team support generous families, couples and corporations with their grantmaking to thousands of inspirational and impactful organizations. She helps donors develop their philanthropic plans to address issues that matter most, and also guides long-term charitable giving strategies for those who wish to leave a lasting legacy for their community.

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