WD-40 Company Turns to The San Diego Foundation for Strategic Philanthropy

WD-40 Company Community Involvement
WD-40 Company Community Involvement and Fortress of Health Committees were recognized by LiveWell San Diego and San Diego County Supervisor Ron Roberts in late 2016.

WD-40 Company has a long history of business and philanthropic success in San Diego.

For more than three decades, the company and its employees have given back to the community and supported nonprofit organizations in community development and youth programming, as well as arts and culture and health and human services. Hundreds of nonprofits have benefited from the generosity of WD-40 Company, including Big Brothers Big Sisters, Elementary Institute of Science and Mama’s Kitchen.

In 2011, WD-40 Company opened a donor advised fund at The San Diego Foundation and later expanded the relationship to include its employee-matching plan, board giving program and corporate giving grants. This enabled WD-40 Company to focus on the value-driven aspects of its giving, while The San Diego Foundation conducted activities such as due diligence research of grantees, tracking donations and investing charitable assets.

Employee Engagement

WD-40 Company is widely recognized for its employee “tribe” culture, promoting corporate values that include doing the right thing, the creation of positive memories, continual improvement, collective success and economic sustainability.

These core values are put into action through the company’s giving decisions. Members of the WD-40 Company Community Involvement Committee help to evaluate different funding opportunities and collectively decide where to grant WD-40 Company Foundation’s charitable assets. Recommending approximately 150 grants per year, the impact of the tribe on the company’s giving is deep.

Evolving Giving Strategies

Recently, WD-40 Company’s Community Involvement Committee was interested in developing a more streamlined process to collect and review its web-based corporate grant applications. The Committee was also open to a more strategic approach, where fewer grants would be targeted around a specific cause, and given in larger amounts.

In late 2015, Committee members met with Keely Bamberg, TSDF Director of Donor Relations, to explore updating the organization’s philanthropic process.

At an initial corporate giving planning session, Keely led a review of WD-40 Company’s giving mission statement, comparing it to overall corporate giving goals, as well as the tribe’s core values. Sharing her expertise in strategic philanthropy, she helped the Corporate Involvement Committee develop a mission statement that was inspirational, specific and actionable:

“The mission of the WD-40 Company Foundation is to create positive lasting memories by empowering people to become self-reliant using our time, talent and treasure to help put charities out of business.”

WD-40 Foundation

After crafting its new giving mission, the Committee was excited to leverage The San Diego Foundation’s community knowledge and grantmaking expertise to explore areas for deeper and more strategic community investment.

Systems Change

Throughout 2016, with support from The San Diego Foundation Community Impact department, WD-40 Company repositioned its philanthropy to focus on building self-reliance in San Diego County. The new strategy aimed to address food security, workforce development and family asset building sectors of the community. A grantmaking program, Advancing Opportunity & Prosperity, was developed to implement this new direction.

The program tackles systems change by prioritizing long-term solutions that weave together the three issue areas related to self-reliance. A rigorous RFP process and subsequent site visits yielded a group of highly capable and competent organizations. Following finalist presentations to staff from The San Diego Foundation as well as WD-40 Company tribe members, the “Advancing Opportunity & Prosperity” program recently announced awards to support the following nonprofit projects in 2017-2018:

Going forward, WD-40 Company is deeply committed to supporting programs and initiatives that enable San Diegans to improve their situation and ultimately thrive in their communities.

If you work at a company looking to develop a new corporate giving program, or deepen the impact of one that is already in the works, please contact us so we can further discuss how to help you meet your goals.

Contact Our Charitable Giving Team


About Cami Mattson

Cami MattsonAs Director of Charitable Giving, Cami Mattson increases philanthropy across the region by working with new donors who wish to make an impact in the San Diego community. She helps San Diegans and corporations personalize their giving through donor advised funds or by joining existing funds at The San Diego Foundation.