Sacramento giving

Jeff vonKaenel

People living in the Sacramento region are generous, giving about $1 billion per year to nonprofits and religious organizations. But people in other regions are even more generous, according to the 2009 Center for Strategic Economic Research report on nationwide giving patterns. The study looked at tax records and conducted household interviews to come up with data on who is giving and who is not.

To find out more about this and the Greater Sacramento Generosity Project, which seeks to encourage more local giving, I called up my good friend Ruth Blank, CEO of the Sacramento Region Community Foundation. Ruth explained how, by looking at our giving compared to national giving, we can identify some important goals that could make a huge difference in our region.

The research study financed by 17 local funders found that 62 percent of Sacramento households gave at least $25 per year compared to 66 percent nationally. Our average donation was $1,990 per year, which is 11 percent lower than the national figures.

If we could increase the percentage of giving households from 62 to 67 percent, and increase the average household donation from $1,990 to $2,355, then an additional quarter of a billion dollars for nonprofits would be raised. Obviously, by increasing our giving to equal the national average, we would make a huge difference in our community.

This is a great goal, but how do we do it? That is phase two of the Generosity Project.

The Generosity outreach campaign is being spearheaded by the Runyon Saltzman & Einhorn advertising agency, a true Sacramento powerhouse. I recently met with Paul McClure, Chris Holben and Kelley Kent from the agency to discuss how best to inspire the 376,000 readers of SN&R to give more generously.

I initially thought that asking people to donate more money might be a tough sell, especially during such tough economic times. But then I thought of some of my best experiences in the last year.

High on the list was visiting the new Crocker Art Museum, supported in large part by community donations. Later, I was moved and inspired while being introduced to local families receiving new homes from Habitat for Humanity. Also, I had the opportunity to visit with high-school musicians before they went on stage at the Crest Theatre to perform at the SN&R Jammies finale.

Dollar for dollar and hour for hour, I received more joy from my experiences working with and giving to nonprofits than anything else I did this year. I can give more. I hope we can all give more. When we do, the data will look better—but more importantly, we will continue to be inspired by our amazing art museum, we will proudly support more Habitat families and we will all know a young Jammies musician who had a chance to live out his or her dream onstage at the Crest.

This story has been corrected from its original print version.

Our content is free, but not free to produce

If you value our local news, arts and entertainment coverage, become an SN&R supporter with a one-time or recurring donation. Help us keep our reporters at work, bringing you the stories that need to be told.


Stay Updated

For the latest local news, arts and entertainment, sign up for our newsletter.
We'll tell you the story behind the story.

About the Author

Jeff vonKaenel
Jeff vonKaenel is the president, CEO and majority owner of the News & Review newspapers in Sacramento, Chico and Reno.