The San Diego Foundation

OVERVIEW: This funder supports San Diego, California-area nonprofits in age-friendly communities, civic engagement, climate, arts, outdoors, science and technology, and families and community. Most competitive grants are awarded through the funder’s regional affiliates.

FUNDING AREAS: Age-friendly communities, civic engagement, climate, arts, outdoors, science and technology, families and community

IP TAKE: Get to know your regional affiliate foundation, what it funds, and who works there. These are the keys to tapping into TSDF’s $732 million in assets.

PROFILE: The San Diego Foundation (TSDF) is based in San Diego, California, and was established in 1975. The foundation got its start when the Gildred Foundation pledged $135,000, which included some unrestricted funds for startup expenses and staffing. Today, TSDF manages over 1,900 funds and has given out over $1 billion in support of local nonprofits.

TSDF has around $732 million in total assets and a $462 million endowment. Current financial data can be viewed here. In a recent year, the funder awarded 5,686 grants, totaling at least $50.9 million. Funding interests include age-friendly communities, civic engagement, climate, arts, outdoors, science and technology, and families and community.

Other TSDF funds have gone to regional disaster relief recovery, scholarships, the Malin Burham Center for Civic Engagement, a women’s foundation. The funder has raised millions for local nonprofits through annual give-a-thons, and contributed to Balboa Park improvements. TSDF also provides community meeting space to nonprofits at no charge. The San Diego Foundation has quite a few regional affiliates, including the following:

  • 4S Ranch-Del Sur Community Foundation
  • Carlsbad Charitable Foundation
  • Chula Vista Charitable Foundation
  • Escondido Charitable Foundation
  • La Jolla Community Foundation
  • Oceanside Charitable Foundation
  • Ramona Community Foundation
  • Rancho Bernardo Community Foundation

In fact, most of the competitive grantmaking opportunities are offered through the foundation’s regional affiliate program. TSDF has offered its own Opening the Outdoors grant cycle to nonprofits that protect outdoor spaces and connect them to residential areas. These grants are for $25,000 to $75,000; letters of inquiry have been accepted. The foundation often hosts webinars and holds office hours to enable nonprofits to connect with staff and learn more about current grant opportunities. Local grant opportunities are updated regularly on the website. TSDF uses an online application process but does not accept applications for donor-advised grants.

Support is regularly given for project support, capacity-building support, and core operating/general support. Overall, grants are awarded through a WELL (Work, Enjoy, Live, and Learn) strategy. This typically leads to grants in workforce development, outdoor and cultural assets, affordable housing, convenient transportation, a healthy environment, engaged neighborhoods, and education in STEM, the arts, and the environment.

General questions can be emailed to or phoned into (619) 235-2300. The address is 2508 Historic Decatur Road, Suite 200, San Diego, California, 92106. You can keep up with foundation news and events here.


  • Search for staff contact info and bios in PeopleFinder (paid subscribers only.)