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Announcing Philanthropy CA

Friday, January 6, 2017

Our state’s three philanthropy regional associations -- Northern California Grantmakers (NCG), San Diego Grantmakers (SDG), and Southern California Grantmakers (SCG) -- collaborate more closely now for:

  • A stronger statewide philanthropic presence that bridges geographic and organizational boundaries and diverse interests among funders
  • A united voice for public policy issues affecting philanthropy
  • Improved opportunities for learning and collaboration
  • The ability to engage a broader range of stakeholders
  • Streamlined support for nonprofits and philanthropy

Years in the making, Philanthropy CA is an idea whose time has finally come!

The Stars Aligned and the Work Began

Over the years, our three associations have worked with one another on individual projects and programs, but the time and resources to develop a strategic approach for statewide collaboration seemed out of reach.

In 2015 the stars aligned when two of the state’s three regional associations found themselves under new leadership, with enthusiasm from their respective boards to combine forces. The third ED had been gunning for deeper partnership all along and welcomed the call.

What We’re Doing as Philanthropy CA

A core group of members joined with the CEOs, developing a vision for statewide collaboration and a set of strategic priorities to guide our work together. Over the last year, we’ve begun implementing our plan to achieve these shared goals, guided by a steering committee comprised of the CEO’s and representative board members from all three associations with support from consultants at The Giving Practice.

  • Collaborative programming with national affinity group Grantmakers for Effective Organizations to combine our deep regional expertise with their knowledge of national best practices.
  • Leading a statewide project to increase the number of grantmakers committed to funding all aspects of a nonprofit’s operations.
  • Joint advocacy on statewide legislative bills & actions impacting nonprofits and philanthropy. Together we:
  • Supported AB 1348 to establish federal grants administrator in governor’s office. The bill was signed into law by the governor in late September.
  • Supported a request to state legislative leaders to create a Joint Committee on the Nonprofit Sector (initiated by CalNonprofits).  Discussions continue as the new legislative session recently re-started on December 5, 2016.
  • Opposed AB 2955 (Frazier), the “Nonprofit Warning Label Bill,” which would have imposed overly burdensome nonprofit regulations and perpetuated the overhead myth. The bill died in the Assembly Appropriations Committee due to our combined advocacy efforts.
  • Consolidated support for finance and human resource management at each organization, under the leadership of Karen Freeman, who now serves a dual role as SCG Vice President of Operations and Government Relations as well as Chief Administrative Officer of Philanthropy CA. Jimmy Tang has also recently been hired as an Associate to support this work.
  • Coordinated statewide communications to ensure a more prominent statewide voice for the philanthropic sector on matters of shared concern such as crises, disaster and policy-making.

What’s Next & How to Get Involved

There’s much more for Philanthropy CA to do over the long haul. We remain committed to the belief that by aligning our regional networks’ deep local expertise and connections, we can increase philanthropy’s impact in building and sustaining thriving, equitable communities; and we can be a powerful force for change on issues that affect us all, here in California and far beyond.

We invite you, our collective members, to add your ideas to Philanthropy CA. We look forward to seeing the ways this momentum will buoy all of us. We welcome feedback to any of us individually or to the group through Philanthropy CA’s Chief Administrative Officer, Karen Freeman.


Ellen LaPointe

Nancy Jamison

Chris Essel

President and CEO

President and CEO

President and CEO

Northern California Grantmakers

San Diego Grantmakers

Southern California Grantmakers

Philathropy CA Funders

  • Blue Shield of California Foundation
  • Connie Matsui, Beckman-Matsui Family Fund
  • The California Endowment
  • Heising-Simons Foundation
  • Lodestar Foundation
  • Nonprofit Sustainability Initiative
  • Ralph M. Parsons Foundation
  • The David & Lucile Packard Foundation