This article was originally published June 4, 2021 by Catalyst of San Diego & Imperial Counties.
Do you work in corporate giving as a master juggler? Are you trying to build a corporate giving initiative without dedicated headcount? Or do you have a robust corporate giving program but looking to optimize your resources and ensure quality grantmaking? This article is for anyone who wants high-quality grantmaking but lacks the in-house capacity to make it happen.
You’d be hard pressed to find someone working in social impact in San Diego and Imperial Counties who hasn’t heard of The San Diego Foundation, and with good reason. As one of our region’s largest funders – they’ve granted more than $1.3 billion in our community, have a staff of nearly 60 people driving their work, and were founding members of what is now Catalyst – they serve as a partner to community organizations, and a place for philanthropies of all sizes to make an impact.
But what impact could you have if you could leverage all the talent, experience and expertise of the TSDF team as an extension of your corporate giving staff? How can your giving be amplified with TSDF toward the programs and communities you strive to serve? That’s what TSDF is answering for companies of all sizes through their Custom Corporate Giving program.
We checked in with Cami Mattson, director of development and stewardship, to give us all the details. Cami is uniquely suited to work with our region’s corporate giving programs, having previously served as director of community relations for Cox Communications California. In her role, she was responsible for the strategic direction of the company’s statewide community relations efforts, including employee volunteerism, the Cox Cares Foundation and its corporate giving.
Read on to hear what we learned.
What kinds of services are offered through TSDF’s Custom Corporate Giving program?
We have a full suite of services that we will customize depending on the corporate need. We can help a company develop its giving platform for employee engagement, community impact, brand building, scholarships, back-end administration and investment of charitable assets. Companies do not need to invest extra resources in building out a corporate giving program as our community-knowledge experts can help do that for them. We will provide guidance and grantmaking recommendations that align with company values.
What pain points does this alleviate?
Often community relations staff are small, even one person wearing many hats. By opening a corporate fund with us, we handle all the back-end administration, including IRS compliance, tax filings and check writing for the corporate grants desired. Our community experts can alleviate the need for internal staff to spend hours in research and study to learn emergent community needs and nonprofits in good standing that align with corporate priorities. The San Diego Foundation also protects and invests the corporation’s charitable dollars securely under our 501(c)3 nonprofit.
Who is the Custom Corporate Giving program a good fit for?
This program is truly for any company that values giving back, employee empowerment and/or brand amplification. Budget size does not matter. The San Diego Foundation can help simplify the corporate giving process and take burdens off of internal staff, including community relations, finance and communications personnel. We have worked with local, national and international companies including many Catalyst members like SDG&E, Cox Communications, and Qualcomm, to name a few. Over the last decade, $75 million was contributed to corporate funds at The San Diego Foundation for charitable grantmaking in the community.
You’ve worked with a lot of our region’s leading corporations. What are some things you’ve learned?
We have very generous companies that care deeply about their employees and the communities they serve with products and services. I see the core value of giving back being set at the top level and intentionally being woven throughout the company. I never see corporate philanthropy being done merely for company gain. There is a true desire for these generous companies to make a difference. I’ve learned that each corporation has its own unique giving needs and they partner with The San Diego Foundation to help develop customized solutions. Also, most companies appreciate working collaboratively to magnify impact in a collective, deliberate and meaningful way.
In what ways does TSDF’s corporate giving program promote equity-driven grantmaking?
An advantage of partnering with The San Diego Foundation is our core value for an inclusive community where everyone has equitable access to opportunity. We have subject-matter experts who can lead corporate staff to equitable social impact areas that they care most about. As an example, we created the Black Community Investment Fund that prioritizes and invests in community-led, innovative efforts to increase racial equity and generational wealth for Black San Diegans. Many corporations have supported this fund to help with their equity-driven grantmaking. They trust the process and due diligence of the BCIF advisory council with experts in our community’s equity needs and the nonprofits that support them.
Do you have any success stories you’d like to highlight?
This year, we had a fast-growing global company, Hologic, invest a significant amount of charitable dollars in its fund at The San Diego Foundation. The staff was so busy meeting the demand for its medical technology product, that they turned to our expertise to support its corporate philanthropy. We searched out nonprofits that focus on college access services and financial support to underserved minorities in the communities where it operates in the U.S. They were also able to set up a scholarship fund to help children and grandchildren of its employees. We were able to move quickly and effectively as a team to guide and provide a list of organizations that offer equitable educational opportunities in the U.S.
Is there anything else that you’d like folks to know about the corporate giving program?
Whether a company is just beginning to implement giving strategies or is considering refreshing or restructuring its current giving platform, The San Diego Foundation team is here to advance the company’s goals in a cost effective and efficient way. We are happy to bring corporate giving partners together or make referrals to other companies working with The San Diego Foundation to share best practices. There is a tremendous opportunity for all San Diego companies to help our community thrive.
Want to learn more? Feel free to contact Cami Mattson, director of development and stewardship at The San Diego Foundation via email or phone (619) 871-4741.