Charitable organizations are a big business in San Diego — totaling $13.7 in annual revenue — and provide vital support for a thriving for-profit business community.
Pat Libby, a University of San Diego professor and expert on charities, said nonprofit services like day care, private schools and cultural institutions help businesses support and attract employees.
“We can’t take credit for the weather, but the fabulous things that nonprofits do enable business to do what it does,” she said.
Libby spoke Wednesday at the 97th annual meeting of Jewish Family Service of San Diego, an agency which provides financial, social, emotional, physical and spiritual support to individuals of all religions in San Diego and the Coachella Valley.
During the meeting at the La Jolla Country Club, board member Louis Vener received the Charles Zibbell Leadership Award in recognition of his 15 years of service on the board.
While nonprofits may be big business in San Diego, the region significantly lags Los Angeles and San Francisco in charitable foundation resources. Data from USD’s Institute for Nonprofit Education and Research, which Libby founded, shows San Diego a distant third among California’s largest metro areas in aggregate foundation assets:
- Los Angeles — $43.1 billion
- San Francisco — $28.9 billion
- San Diego — $2.7 billion
“There’s really something wrong with this picture. We don’t have enough foundations in San Diego,” Libby said.
And she lamented that annual surveys by her institute show a third of San Diegans can’t name a single nonprofit.
“If you think it’s hard to raise money at this time, then you are right,” she said. “Almost half of all nonprofits in the county are operating at a deficit.”
Libby said professional management, transparency and a willingness to innovate are the keys to making nonprofits more solvent and thereby help more people.
The institute’s figures show that San Diego County has 12,832 nonprofits generating $13.7 billion in annual revenue and paying $5.2 billion in wages.
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