Charitable Giving Guide 2021

30 SAN DIEGO MAGAZINE CHARITABLE GIVING GUIDE 2021 philanthropic support to help the community is going to stay around for a very long time.” CANCELED PLANS, CREATIVE SOLUTIONS The coronavirus prompted Rady Children’s Hospital Foundation to halt in-person plans for its upcoming 112th Charity Ball. The long- running annual event had previously only been canceled during the World Wars and the Great Depression. “The Charity Ball is the antithesis of social distancing,” says Ellen Moxham, a member of the event’s advisory committee. “We quickly realized that it very likely was not something we would be able to schedule for February.” The group remained committed to the cause and began to rethink its fundraising initiative. The 2021 ball was slated to benefit programs related to mental and behavioral health, which were themselves already a public health crisis before the pandemic. “We recognized that we must not allow the thread to be broken and must carry on our tradition, especially at a time when children and families are struggling,” Moxham says. They funneled their fundraising efforts into finding sponsors, advertisers, and underwriters for a special edition of the Charity Ball program, which will be unveiled during a virtual VIP reception on February 26. The program will chronicle this eventful year’s philanthropic efforts and explore themes of nature and the outdoors, which should allow subjects being photographed to maintain a safe distance. The program will feature art by renowned illustrator Rafael López, whose son was treated at Rady Children’s. Once completed, the program will be sent to donors, available to the public as a downloadable PDF, and archived at the San Diego History Center along with those of previous years. “We’re carrying out our same mission and putting children first, as we always have,” Moxham says. “There’s a real sense of responsibility when you’re part of an organization that has a 112-year history. It’s sort of like carrying the Olympic torch; you must keep it alive.” THE SHOW MUST GO ON Performing arts organizations suffered a substantial blow when productions were paused and venues went dark at the start of the pandemic. The San Diego Opera became the first opera company in the country to cancel a production, when parents of the youth chorus that was supposed to guest star were hesitant to travel from out of state. But instead of accepting that as their last curtain call, the team buckled down and brainstormed new ways to engage their patrons. The opera postponed upcoming productions not already in the works and let ticket holders choose to receive a refund, convert the value to a charitable donation, or carry the value forward to a future show. Only about 15 percent wanted their money back. “This community is behind us,” says the opera’s general director, David Bennett. “They saw us through some difficult times not too long ago, and I think everyone wants to make sure we’re going to be here in the future.” They also came up with an evolving repertoire of online offerings to deepen their relationship with existing supporters and draw in new ones. The series began with Zoom discussions about San Diego Opera’s productions, which were later edited and shown on YouTube. The popularity of this series soared, and soon other distinctive virtual events were added to the mix, among them Apertivo with Artists, a series of conversations with big-name players in the opera world, and Ópera en tu Sofá, a celebration of Hispanic musical heritage. The opera began inching its way back into live performances as well, with a drive-in-movie- style performance of La Bohème . “We started off these events as mostly conversations, and now we’re starting to weave in actual performances,” Bennett says. “It’s another way to use the medium we have to connect with a live performance and be thankful at the same time.” WHAT WE’ VE LEARNED Virtual events are a relatively new medium for many organizations, and their popularity has skyrocketed in recent months as nonprofits have had to pivot and rethink their delivery. Classy’s Soraya Alexander says the positives are many. In addition to convenience for the audience and lower production costs, this format lifts geographic barriers and the speakers, guests, and performers can stream or record segments without travel or lengthy time commitments. The organizations that are doing it well are making it exciting and engaging while also showing their impact. “Even if we go back to ‘normal,’ we’re never getting rid of virtual events,” Alexander says. “There’s so much benefit.” PEOPLE HAVE BEEN I NCRED I BLY GENEROUS . AND THE WAY THEY ’ RE BE I NG GENEROUS HAS REAL LY CHANGED . SORAYA ALEXANDER Senior Vice President of Marketing and Customer Growth at Classy