2021 Letter From Inspire Giving Chair

By Andrea Ellinghouse|February 23, 2021|Foundation, Inspire Giving|

A letter from our 2021 Inspire Giving Chair, Heather Williams

2020 was a year…

I started and stopped this letter many times, reflecting on 2020 and 2021 – it’s hard to find the right words to capture such a tumultuous year. Yet, we know it is important to reflect back on 2020, on the challenges and the wins (yes there were wins!), in service of a better 2021. We went into 2020 filled with hope and excitement to celebrate our 10th year of Inspire Giving! We had ended 2019 with a Leadership Council (LC) retreat that allowed us to not only dream about how we might celebrate 10 years of impact, but what Inspire Giving might look like in the next 5-10 years. Almost immediately into the new year Inspire Giving ran into a few challenges and so we pivoted and kept moving forward, only to find ourselves a couple months later in the midst of a global pandemic along with everyone else. Unsure of how long this would last, we shifted our monthly Inspire Giving leadership team meetings to virtual meetings and we reimagined multiple times how we would support our 2020 grantee – the Children’s Receiving Home of Sacramento (CRHS).

2020 was the ultimate year of the pivot.

Despite all that happened in 2020, Inspire Giving was able to successfully adjust our support to provide CRHS with the in-kind and support services they needed most – overall campus improvements including dorm and outdoor improvements. We were able to facilitate a new partnership with CRHS and Ikea which has resulted in multiple donations to support their facility. As we closed out 10 years of Inspire Giving, we are proud that this community has been able to support ten nonprofits with $105,000 in grants and over $1,000,000 in in-kind support and services.

We are proud to announce that in 2020, in partnership with our sister program Metro EDGE, we were able to raise nearly $10,000 for the Inspire Giving endowment fund. A huge thank you to long-term supporters Teichert and Sutter Health who generously contributed Ten Years of Impact sponsorships. These fundraising efforts take us several steps closer to a sustainable fund that will be able to provide grant funding to the region for generations to come.

Membership and the grant making process have evolved over the past ten years to ensure more access and engagement with the greater Sacramento community. Our members have the opportunity to give their time, treasure, and talent to build a better Sacramento. Being an annual member requires minimal investment ($25 a year) while providing a big impact. Our members vote on and determine our annual priority giving area and grant recipient as well as have the opportunity to volunteer their time and talent to support our recipients.

A few years ago, we started to ask Inspire Giving members and donors to vote to determine the annual priority giving area. This ensures our grant making priorities better reflect the priorities of our community. Despite, or perhaps because of, the challenges of 2020 we had significant engagement in this year’s process with a clear vote that the 2021 Inspire Giving grant should focus on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DIEB).

Sacramento is one of the most diverse cities in our nation, and as a region we will truly thrive when all our communities have equal access to opportunities to be successful. For 2021, Inspire Giving sought applicants whose work addresses barriers to equity, inclusion, and belonging. We recognize that this topic is incredibly broad, largely because challenges exist in every single industry sector.  We know that achieving this goal requires attention and investment, and we want to do our part to catalyze that support. Our Request for Proposal process received a substantial number of requests, with over 40 applications, demonstrating the need for significantly more investment.  The Inspire Giving leadership team spent considerable time reviewing the applicants for eligibility and fit, narrowing it down to 5 highly qualified finalists for our donors and members to vote on.

We are excited to announce  Improve Your Tomorrow as our 2021 grantee. This year our leadership team and Project Committee will be teaming up with Improve Your Tomorrow to build a four-week intensive STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math) summer school program in South Sacramento. The objective of this program is to better prepare low-income males of color for high school, and ultimately college and success in the workforce. For more details on the project see the full press release. Partnering with Improve Your Tomorrow as our 2021 grant is an important step for Inspire Giving to do our part in this work.

As we reflect on where we’ve been and where we are going, in 2021, we seek to build on the solid foundation of the last ten years to grow our community, grow our funding, and ultimately grow our positive impact in the greater Sacramento region. In addition to partnering and working with Improve Your Tomorrow on their grant project this year, we’ve outlined some additional goals to move us towards this vision:

  1. Build a more connected Inspire Giving Community with increased engagement opportunities.
  2. Create a multi-year fundraising strategy that supports future increases in grantmaking capacity.
  3. Better identify and support the needs of the non-profits in the greater Sacramento region.
  4. Continue to strengthen and diversify our leadership pipeline, ensuring our leadership is representative of the greater Sacramento region.

We hope that you join us this year, finding ways to engage with Inspire Giving whether through donating your dollars and voting, or getting more involved and donating your time and talents through volunteer events (virtual opportunities coming this year!), serving on the Project Committee, or more! If you are interested in supporting Inspire Giving or getting more involved please email me at heatherashly@gmail.com.

~Truly, a little is enough if enough people do it,

 Heather Williams, Inspire Giving Program Chair


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