The San Diego Foundation

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North America

The San Diego Foundation harnesses technology for efficiencies in fundraising, relationship management, and finance and accounting processes. 


Dedicated to growing a vibrant region, The San Diego Foundation mobilizes philanthropic contributions to improve life in its community. With over $1 billion granted, The Foundation leverages leading technology to focus on its goals.  

With a 40-year legacy and over $1 billion in grants awarded, The San Diego Foundation makes an indelible imprint on its southern California community.

“We pay keen attention to making the greatest impact in the San Diego region and being a joy for our donors to work with meeting their philanthropic goals,” said Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Jim Howell. “We also want this to be one of the greatest, if not the greatest, place to work in San Diego.”

Driving impact and team satisfaction both depend on having the right tools in place. Over a year ago, The San Diego Foundation migrated from Blackbaud’s on-premises solutions for fundraising, relationship management, and fund accounting to its cloud-based solutions.

“Moving to the cloud was part of the reason we were able to take our business operations offsite so quickly when COVID-19 hit,” Howell said. “Staff was easily able to access all the database and continue their business processes from their homes with no interruption.”

Experiencing Efficiencies

After migrating to the NXT suite, The San Diego Foundation experienced efficiencies viewing the fundraising workflow. “With our systems, we capture the data associated with our donors’ interests, apparent from grant history and social media, and fully understand their philanthropic capacity, such as time, treasure, and talent,” Howell said. “We bring it all together to truly drive the business.”

From a fundraising perspective, Blackbaud Raiser’s Edge NXT offered much needed agility. “We were really looking for increased mobile functionality and enhanced productivity for the development team,” Howell said. “The development team exclusively uses the Work Center features for their team. The vice president is able to view his staff’s actions and opportunities with a quick click of the button. It’s very easy and intuitive.”

With financial systems, manual month-end processes can create bottlenecks for many organizations, causing delays in financial reporting and vendor payments. However, time-saving features such as bank feeds—which securely connect to online bank accounts and automatically download transactions to the corresponding accounts in Blackbaud Financial Edge NXT—help to streamline bank reconciliation and provide real-time insight into account balances and activity.

“We’ve just scratched the surface with things that continue to be upgrades,” Howell said. “We have the potential for us to get more efficient with automated bank feeds, reconciliation, budgeting, and expense reporting. All of this affects the finance team’s productivity.”

Moving from on-premises to a cloud solution freed up additional resources as well. “We no longer need server maintenance or to coordinate upgrades happening locally,” Howell said. “It’s all pushed through the hosted environment.”

Future Goals

Looking to the future, The San Diego Foundation wants to play a key role in expanding affordable, world-class early childhood education in San Diego, as well as support for land preservation and corresponding environmental protection and initiatives. Howell said the right tools will play a key role in reaching those goals.

“We view technology as a strategic asset of The Foundation,” Howell said. “It really is enabling what we need to do with donors and with back-office work, as we continue to find ways to be as productive as possible.”

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