Back to top

SCG 2015 Year in Review

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Dear Colleagues,

As I look back on 2015, my heart is full. While we have witnessed tragedies as close to home as San Bernardino and as far away as Paris and Beirut, I believe more than ever in the transformative power of philanthropy to improve our world. That’s because every day, my vantage point at the center of SCG’s amazing network gives me the unique privilege of seeing the boundless love, enthusiasm, energy, and determination that you each bring to your work with community leaders who are equally inspiring and dedicated. I hope you’ll join me in taking a moment to celebrate our progress together, as we get ready to begin our work together anew in 2016.


SCG’s continuing growth means more opportunities for you to learn and share with peers, more potential for collaboration, and a more inclusive approach to the issues that challenge us all. As an SCG member, you’re now part of a leadership hub of nearly 300 organizations, an increase of 24% in just the past year. More than 3,500 participants attended 185 SCG programs this year, including peer group meetings and partnership events with local, statewide, and national organizations—an increase of 50% over last year.

This is made possible by capacity-building investments from leading members that enabled the SCG staff to grow too—please take a look at our roster to meet our newest teammates. As a result of these investments, I’m very honored to tell you that 96.5% of survey respondents rated our programs as good or excellent. In particular, our Annual Conference drew record-breaking crowds and inspired countless new ideas and conversations. We did our best to capture the day’s energy and impact in this two-minute video recap. Watch now!



SCG is also stepping up to represent the voices of Southern California philanthropy. This year, we’ve strengthened our partnerships with colleagues in Inland Southern California as well as Orange, Santa Barbara, and Ventura Counties. Statewide, we deepened our collaboration with Northern California Grantmakers and San Diego Grantmakers by having SCG's Karen Freeman take on finance and HR back office functions for all three associations, a tremendous step forward in leveraging our resources to serve you better. Nationally, Karen and I are now serving in leadership roles with the Forum of Regional Associations, which represents more than 5,500 grantmakers and is the country’s largest philanthropic network.


In 2015, SCG's Public Policy Committee began working with our Board and many of our funder peer groups to strategize on taking individual and collaborative action on the issues that matter most to you. We strengthened our connections to key policymakers and elected officials and offered opportunities for SCG and our members to serve as a resource on critical community issues. Besides sending a member delegation to Capitol Hill, SCG members convened here at home with an array of local, state, and national leaders including US Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert McDonald; California State Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de León; and LAUSD Superintendent Ramon Cortines.

This year, we also celebrated the LA County Board of Supervisors' unanimous motion to establish the County's first philanthropic liaison office, the Center for Strategic Public-Private Partnerships, housed within the County's Office of Child Protection. Building on our successful 2014 work that helped establish the OCP, SCG and our members worked closely with OCP to establish this new office. The Center will develop a shared agenda for joint initiatives, dialogue, and collaborations between the County and philanthropy to better serve vulnerable children in our region. With support from both philanthropy and County funding, and with SCG serving as the fiscal agent, the Center represents some of our highest ambitions to leverage the resources, expertise, and collective voice of our members to create the greatest possible community benefit.


Left: Hilda Solis, LA County Board of Supervisors; Chris Essel, Southern California Grantmakers; Fred Ali, Weingart Foundation. Right: Robert McDonald, US Veterans Affairs; Bill Ahmanson, The Ahmanson Foundation.


Meanwhile, SCG members led the way on critical issues in our region. For example, because of the Weingart Foundation's efforts, the LA County Board of Supervisors recently approved a motion to reimburse nonprofits for the full cost of their work. The county-wide implementation of these reforms will help maximize the impact of nonprofit programs supported by government funding. This motion also reflects an ongoing effort among SCG members and the broader California philanthropy community called the Real Cost Project, designed to improve nonprofit support within and beyond our sector.


Our online members-only directory is better than ever, giving you the ability to search for member organizations and specific people who share your programmatic, geographic, and professional interests. Don’t forget to update your personal profile by December 17th to qualify for our $100 prize drawing! In 2016, stay tuned for us to offer new online “collaborative workspaces” that will improve your ability to learn, connect, and take action with other funders. These tools are all being developed thanks to SCG’s participation in the Forum of Regional Associations' national technology collaborative—in particular through Charlotte Anheier's leadership on several top-level advisory and working groups.
In 2015, we launched an important partnership with Foundation Center that lets you visualize and drill down on grantmaking data in California and beyond. Through your SCG membership, you can now use the Foundation Maps – California tool to slice and dice e-reported grant information from members of SCG, NCG, and SDG as well as other funders headquartered in California! You can start exploring the California data map now by funder, recipient, grant size, funding focus, or type of giving. Also, save the date for a hands-on California Maps tutorial on February 10, 2016.



Just as “big data” is revolutionizing our world, having access to nearly-real time data will have a powerful effect on the way our sector understands the nonprofit landscape and how we can make the greatest impact with our grantmaking. But it’s only as powerful as the data we share: please click here to become part of this crucial initiative.



As the year draws to a close, I’d like once again to thank our Core Operating Funders as well as our Annual Conference, Policy Conference, and Family Conference sponsors. Membership dues make up less than half of SCG’s budget. Your grants and sponsorships make our work possible. If you’re interested in using any remaining 2015 dollars for a grant or sponsorship—or starting 2016 with a pledge—please contact Amanda Byrd. We are so grateful for your generous leadership.


On behalf of the entire SCG board and staffthank you for your tireless work serving our communities.



We are inspired by you every day, and we look forward to working with you in the New Year!


Christine Essel
President and CEO
Southern California Grantmakers

Funding Issue Area & Geographic Regions
News type 
Special Initiatives