The events of 2020 drew unprecedented response from the philanthropic community, with foundations and donors reevaluating their practices and stepping up to swiftly and generously meet the growing needs of our communities. SVCF is especially proud of our donors, who gave more than $500 million to support nonprofit organizations across the Bay Area region in 2020.
Gleaning from lessons learned last year, SVCF’s donor engagement team has compiled the following recommendations to help guide philanthropists who are contemplating and planning their giving strategy for 2021:
- Remove the strings attached to grants: In 2020 we saw many donors embrace the principles of trust-based philanthropy, which calls on philanthropists to create a more equitable nonprofit-funder ecosystem through practices like giving multi-year grants for general support, requiring written reports only if completely necessary and trusting that nonprofit organizations know best how to maximize the impact of funds.
- Local giving is key: Many local organizations were already struggling to meet demand prior to COVID-19. With the onset of the pandemic, these organizations had the heroic task of meeting increased need with limited resources and with additional operational challenges. We encourage donors to continue giving locally. For guidance on whom to support in Silicon Valley, please refer to SVCF’s collection of giving guides.
- Use values to steer your giving: The process of identifying and naming one’s personal, institutional and/or family values can be empowering and rewarding. We encourage philanthropists to examine how values drive giving and serve as a “north star” for decision making. SVCF philanthropy advisors are available and happy to facilitate these conversations.
- Get engaged: Many donors rolled up their sleeves and fostered deeper connections with community organizations last year. From phone banking to using professional skills to help nonprofits advance their projects, we encourage donors to be accessible to the organizations they support, participate in their virtual events and lend their unique skill sets when possible.
- Reflect on 2020: SVCF encourages donors to review grants made in 2020. Which grants were most meaningful? Why? Which grants created the greatest impact? Which organizations feel most relevant to your values and giving objectives? This exercise will help guide the types of organizations, programs and grants that you may want to replicate and build upon in 2021.
And finally, SVCF encourages everyone to continue giving generously. Though 2020 has come to an end, the challenges we faced last year – the global pandemic, increased political division and perpetual racial injustices, just to name a few – will wage on, and the need to continue philanthropic support to help our neighbors is more important than ever.
SVCF hopes that these tips will inspire you to reexamine your philanthropic practices and continue your impact in 2021. We look forward to continuing our partnership with you as we work together towards creating a brighter, more equitable future for all members of our community.
SVCF’s Regional COVID-19 Response:
Support individuals and families or nonprofits in the Bay Area.
SVCF’s Racial Justice Giving Guide:
Support Black-led organizations in Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties.
To refine your giving strategy for 2021, please connect with your SVCF philanthropy advisor.