Proactive vs. Reactive Gifts: Giving Deliberately in 2017

Proactive Giving
With an increase in community need and fierce competition across the nonprofit industry, local organizations are becoming more effective at demonstrating impact and communicating cases for support.

One of the most difficult challenges donors face is how to determine which programs to support, since there are so many effective organizations working in areas critical to our region’s success.

In short, San Diego’s nonprofit community has become very sophisticated at raising money. According to the University of San Diego Caster Family Center for Nonprofit and Philanthropic Research State of Nonprofits report, San Diego’s nonprofit sector is expanding.

San Diego Nonprofit Sector
Data Source: National Center for Charitable Statistics, Urban Institute, Business Master Files, May 2015

What is more important is that San Diego nonprofits have experienced a similar pattern of growth in assets, revenue and expenses since 2002.

With an increase in community need and fierce competition across the nonprofit industry, organizations are becoming more effective at demonstrating impact and communicating cases for support.

Numerous nonprofit resources in San Diego are contributing to this trend, including Association for Fundraising Professionals, Nonprofit Management Solutions, the Development and Fundraising Certificate program at UC San Diego Extension, and The San Diego Foundation’s partner, National University Sanford Institute of Philanthropy Fundraising Academy. The Academy provides students who are interested in beginning (or who are currently working in) development roles with applied knowledge of nonprofit fundraising principles.

These programs, and others, have helped the development community design and implement very effective programs to entice new donors to give, and to convince existing donors to keep on giving.

One critical element of a quality fundraising program is to leverage the relationships of the board, volunteers, existing donors and other stakeholders to grow contributions. A growing number of San Diegans are becoming more comfortable and adept at introducing their networks to nonprofit organizations that provide opportunities to improve our region via charitable giving.

This is really good news because while many give, according to the State of Nonprofits report, only 51 percent of households in the region made a monetary contribution in 2015.

Your Giving Strategy

As wealth becomes concentrated in fewer hands, those with wealth need not worry about having opportunities to share it.

The challenge for those who are in a position to give is how to decide what organizations to support and at what amount.

Donors, and particularly those with large networks of friends who are active in the nonprofit community, are approached numerous times throughout the year to underwrite an event, give to an annual campaign or support a major building project.

It’s the result of having so many community-minded friends!

As we move deeper into 2017, one approach I recommend is to develop a charitable giving budget and set a target for the percentage of gifts that will be given proactively verses reactively.

For proactive gift giving, determine what issue is most important to you, and then seek out the organization(s) that best addresses it.

Perhaps there are current events that may drive a desire for supporting organizations involved in advocacy. Or perhaps you or someone you know received a medical diagnosis that elevated the importance of supporting a particular type of research.

There are numerous online resources, such as Guidestar, Charity Navigator and Benefunder. For The San Diego Foundation donors and regional affiliate members, our staff has the strong local community partnerships, resources, expertise and desire to make these connections, so contact us for ideas!

This year, commit to making your charitable giving deliberate and experience the joy of supporting what matters to others as much as what matters to you.

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What organizations do you support proactively? Share why in the comments below!


About Adrienne Vargas

Adrienne VargasFor more than 25 years, hundreds of donors have relied on Chief Giving Officer Adrienne Vargas to help plan and implement their charitable giving now and/or in their estate plans. At The San Diego Foundation, she leads a team of advisors who are increasing philanthropy throughout the region. Through this work, Adrienne has developed valuable donor experience and deep knowledge of the nonprofit sector in San Diego County.

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