Mission & History

Our mission: SDWF educates and inspires women to engage in collective philanthropy. We are catalysts for change, investing in innovative solutions that benefit underserved communities in the San Diego region.

Inspired by an idea, a small group of San Diego volunteers envisioned an organization that would promote the participation and leadership of women in philanthropy. They recognized that women’s traditional patterns of giving are changing and that philanthropy is uncharted territory for many women.

Like women in several other major U.S. cities, these community leaders sought new opportunities to make a difference on issues important to the entire region. In 2000 they founded the San Diego Women’s Foundation to strengthen and improve women’s capacities to engage in significant philanthropy in San Diego.

Founded as a supporting organization of The San Diego Foundation, the San Diego Women’s Foundation has grown to an organization of more than 220 members. Each member has committed to an annual contribution of $2,500 or $1,250 (for those under 40) and has one vote to determine where grants will be awarded each year. The power of many women giving together has made a significant impact on the San Diego Region.

As of July 1, 2019, more than $3.5 million had been awarded to 96 nonprofit community programs for their efforts to initiate or improve existing programs. Each grant, $25,000 or greater, targets a specific funding priority for the year. Education is key to the San Diego Women’s Foundation and forums on philanthropy and community issues are our educational core. The Foundation’s grant-making process is a rigorous one and provides each member with an in-depth understanding of the philanthropic process.

From SDWF’s inception, its founding members envisioned a legacy beyond their lifetimes To that end, a portion of each member’s annual contribution is allocated to a permanent endowment fund which has grown significantly and will enable the San Diego Women’s Foundation to benefit and strengthen the San Diego region far into the future.