Grantmaking, Nonprofit Phenomenons

San Diego’s Nonprofits and Grantmakers by the Numbers: AFP February 2013 Luncheon Recap

As nonprofit professionals, we need to stay informed on the latest trends in the sector. On Friday, February 1, 2013, Laura Deitrick, PhD, Director of the Caster Family Center for Nonprofit and Philanthropic Research at the University of San Diego joined us at the AFP San Diego Chapter Luncheon shared the latest report on nonprofit trends for 2013.

Dr. Deitrick started her talk with giving an overview of the entire nonprofit sector by the numbers.

  • 1.5 million nonprofits worldwide
  • 9,900 nonprofits in San Diego County (of which 3,880 are located in North County)
  • 3,600 of the nonprofits in San Diego County report income over $25,000
  • 1,800 nonprofits in San Diego County have paid employees

It feels overwhelming with almost 10,000 nonprofits here in San Diego and it begs the common argument:

  • Do we really need all these nonprofits?
  • Aren’t services being duplicated?
  • Can’t we have more collaboration between agencies?

But when you really study the numbers, you see that only 3,600 nonprofits are really active as determined by having income over $25,000 and only 1,800 have paid employees. With that bit of data, the local nonprofit landscape looks a lot smaller.

Dr. Deitrick utilizes the research through the Caster Family Center for Nonprofit and Philanthropic Research
to reframe conversations around the nonprofit sector. Her research shows that nonprofits provide the foundation for a strong business sector by significantly contributing to the economy. Nonprofit expenses account for 6.7% of the gross metro product in our County and 74% of San Diego foundations grant dollars stay in the local economy. That is a lot of money that the nonprofit sector is generating here in San Diego!

The Caster Center at USD just published its latest study “The Grantmaking Report: Foundation Giving in the San Diego Region” for 2010. San Diego is home to over 600 very generous foundations that granted $287,917,313 in 2010 out of their $3,085,409,601 in assets. In addition to local foundations, $200 million in grants from foundations outside of the region are granted to our local nonprofit sector.

Many of us have been under the impression that foundations have been pulling back their funding with the downturn of the economy and foundation’s assets (from which they grant out the required 5% of assets each year). The study tracked the amount of dollars that foundations granted out as their assets increased, decreased or stayed stagnant.

  • In 2008 when foundation assets decreased by 11%, foundation dollars increased by 19%.
  • In 2009, when there was no change in foundation assets, they increased their giving by 18% from the year previous.
  • By 2010, assets had increased by 9%, but giving decreased by 23% from 2009. Despite the drop in giving, San Diego foundations still granted out 9% of their assets in 2010 – exceeding the required amount by 4%!

If you are interested in following more of these nonprofits trends, check out the new online publication, Quarterly Index: San Diego State of Nonprofits, It examines the nonprofit sector by looking at public confidence, individual giving, volunteerism, demand for service, nonprofit sector wages, nonprofit employment, San Diego County unemployment, CEOs report on emerging trends. You will learn fun facts like 80% of San Diegans express confidence in the nonprofit sector yet one third of them cannot name a single nonprofit organization.

For the full presentation, check out the February 2013 Monthly Meeting PowerPoint. For more information, please contact Laura Deitrick at

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