With a day dedicated to donations, San Diego Gives raises money for hundreds of local nonprofits

With a day dedicated to donations, San Diego Gives raises money for hundreds of local nonprofits


After wading through hundreds of emails from nonprofits asking for donations on a Tuesday after Thanksgiving, Lauren Welch had a luminous moment.

Welch works in a development office that manages donations for Urban Corps in San Diego County, an organization that helps young people without high school diplomas expand their career opportunities. It was among those nonprofits hoping to get donations this giving day, and it didn’t have much success.

“It’s obscene…and oversaturated,” she said.

I thought there had to be a better way. So I pitched the idea of ​​a new regional day of giving, just for San Diego causes, to a handful of leaders from other local nonprofits.

Two years later, hundreds of local nonprofits gather to raise funds for San Diego’s special version of Giving Tuesday, called San Diego Gives, on Thursday.

Welch, founder and director, says the fundraising campaign, now in its second year, is a way to build a community resource for these nonprofits while connecting San Diegans to the causes they care about most.

This year, 327 organizations are participating—nearly three times as many as 120 from last year—with a goal of raising $2 million.

The funds go directly to each of the participating nonprofits, all of which are local and committed to preserving all funds raised in the greater San Diego area. Organizations promote a variety of causes, from animals and the arts to education and economic development.

For Urban Corps, San Diego Gives last year was able to help fund Escondido’s runner-up, expanding the organization’s presence to help give more young people the tools they need to succeed in the workforce, Welch said.

For Groundwork San Diego, a nonprofit organization operating in Chollas Creek, the city’s watershed that drains into San Diego Bay, environmental and climate justice programs rely primarily on grants and contracts, which provide virtually no overhead and no discretionary funding, Director Executive Leslie Reynolds.

“It’s very difficult for us to try and find the kind of unrestricted funding that San Diego offers to provide enrichment activities for our children,” Reynolds added. “So this is a really great and beneficial funding for us that doesn’t usually come our way.”

While their missions vary, the Autism Society of San Diego, the San Diego Council of Diplomacy, and Art Reach San Diego all plan to use their proceeds to fund programs for disadvantaged youth, the nonprofit leaders said.

First graders participate in ArtReach San Diego at Jefferson Elementary School in May 2022.

First graders participate in ArtReach San Diego at Jefferson Elementary School in May 2022.

(Courtesy of ArtReach)

And for the Mitchell Thorpe Foundation, the money will help keep pace with the demand for incoming requests to support children with life-threatening illnesses, illnesses and disorders, said co-founder and CEO Beth Thorpe.

Nonprofits participating in the San Diego Gives program were also trained on how to participate in Day of Giving along with development techniques such as donor retention and donation capacity building.

For many of the participating nonprofits, San Diego Gives helps not only raise money but also raise awareness of their issues.

That’s a big part of why his organization is involved, said Drew Moser, executive director of the Lucky Duck Foundation, which focuses on alleviating county-wide homelessness by providing shelter, food and other vital services.

“We always go out to fundraise, but awareness is a big, big problem,” Moser said. “If more people are able to get a sense of who we are, what we do and how we do it, that’s a huge part of our job.”

Although they have always provided their services to female veterans and their children in the area, the Women Warriors Foundation recently moved its headquarters to San Diego, and CEO Judy Grenier said she hopes San Diego Gives will help demonstrate that the organization is a trusted local resource.

Before going from high school counselor to executive director of the San Marcos Promise nonprofit, which helps kids prepare for their future after high school, Lisa Stout says she doesn’t know how many nonprofits there are locally.

“San Diego Gives is a really great way to come together and show how we can make a collective impact,” Stout said.

People interested in donating can sort through participating nonprofits by cause or by neighborhood using an interactive map. Or donors can choose to “love them all,” which will distribute donations across all nonprofits equally.

San Diego gives on Thursday, September 8th. go to the sandiegogifes.org for more information.



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