Notes From the Executive Director

Spring 2020 Letter from SDWF Executive Director, Katie Sawyer

Despite not being able to come together in person, SDWF has had a busy and impactful spring.

Thanks to the contributions of our members and our strong partnership with The San Diego Foundation, we are providing an SDWF all-time high of $380,000 to our Cycle 20 Community Partners, whose work benefits refugees, asylees and asylum seekers! We are deeply proud to provide meaningful support to our community, especially in a time of great need such as now.

Even though our Annual Grants Celebration is cancelled this June, we will find ways to celebrate and uplift the work of these dedicated, effective nonprofits. See below for more details on our newest grantees and our funding partnership with TSDF.

Our biweekly Virtual Learning Series allows us to stay connected to each other and to our community – all from our own living rooms. THANK YOU to our education sponsors, Marsh & McLennan and Dowling & Yahnke. We are so grateful for your ongoing support of our work, and happy to continue to come together in shared learning.

And a few notes on how SDWF is positioned to operate in this time of disruption: rest assured that we are on solid financial footing. Unlike many nonprofits, SDWF has healthy cash reserves, intended to help us weather financial uncertainties. I am very grateful to the members of our Finance Committee for their foresight and sound judgement – many were SDWF members during the 2008 financial crisis, and we’ve spent the past few years making sure that we would be prepared for another financial downturn.

So rather than operating in crisis, we are able to continue to fulfill our mission – coming together in shared learning and providing a record amount of grant funding this spring. I am deeply proud to support our community in such a meaningful way during this time of great need.

I am also happy that we were able to complete our strategic planning process in February. We intentionally structured our 3-year Strategic Framework in a way that provides guidance and direction but leaves room for flexibility as circumstances change – little did we know how quickly circumstances would indeed change.

I’m grateful that we completed that process before the pandemic reached our community, because it has helped us design our crisis response. See the rest of this newsletter for details on how we have adjusted our grantmaking to support our community in this time of need – both with direct funding for COVID response, and by building flexibility into our normal grants process.

I hope you and yours are safe and well – and I can’t wait until we can safely see each other in person again.

Katie Sawyer
Executive Director