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San Diego Charities Encourage Generosity On 'Giving Tuesday'

December 3, 2013 1:24 p.m.

GUESTS:

Laura Dietrick, Executive Director, University of San Diego, Caster Family Center for Nonprofit Philanthropic Research

Major Lee Lescono, Divisional Commander, The Salvation Army

Related Story: San Diego Charities Encourage Generosity On 'Giving Tuesday'

Transcript:

This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.


ALISON ST. JOHN: This is KPBS Midday Edition, I am Alison said John in for Maureen Cavanaugh. Today on Midday Edition we are talking about Giving Tuesday. We lived through Gray Thursday at Black Friday and Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday and all the several variations on the move of getting stuff. That is a relief to come to a date on the calendar that is about giving. This is also sometimes known as Charity Tuesday to the other side of this belief expresses the spirit of the season. There's a new report out by the Castro Family Center for nonprofit research at USD talking about the trends in the way that non-profits are sharing in San Diego. We will have a bit of them explore about the health of nonprofits here in San Diego with our guest Laura Dietrick, Executive Director of the Center for non-profit and philanthropic research. We also have Lee Lescono from the Salvation Army. Laura, let's start with you, Giving Tuesday began this last year but has caught on with some support from Bill Gates. Do you see this as being of a part of our holiday calendar the future?

LAURA DIETRICK: For all intents and purposes it looks like it's here to stay. It is catching on with folks, and research shows on the endeavors of the last couple of years the uptake around this Giving Tuesday nationally and giving a run but really still the heart of giving comes the last two weeks of December.

ALISON ST. JOHN: So this is a kickstart of Giving Tuesday?

LAURA DIETRICK: Absolutely, and after such a weekend of consumerism it is a good reminder.

ALISON ST. JOHN: Lee, what is the Salvation Army doing to kickstart the season of giving this year?

LEE LESCONO: We depend quite a bit on volunteers. It was a good reminder of for even volunteers to give. We have people volunteering today at all season and the other special thing where we are asking people to start their own online red kettle, they don't have to be on the street that they can have read cattle to help that effort to somebody families in need. They just go to our website and they can sign up and give and it shows up their title and it gives helps us and helps go to many families that need help.

ALISON ST. JOHN: How are you seeing giving, are you deserve trend that you're seeing? And getting contributions rising after year after year?

LEE LESCONO: There has been an increase over the last couple of years and we have seen a recovery. Donors have been very generous and over the last giving season we were up. This year it's off to a slow start and we are given to bit behind but we are very optimistic that we will end up doing well.

ALISON ST. JOHN: And looking at the bigger picture of nonprofits in San Diego, but would you say are the trends of giving in San Diego?

LAURA DIETRICK: We have been tracking giving and volunteering in a new index we have created and posted on our website, it's only a couple of years old so we need a few more years of data, but we have seen some interesting things. We have well-documented that San Diegans trust nonprofits, 87% of San Diego's say that they are confident in nonprofits and that is great because trust helps us. Other folks do not measured in like this. Some of our friends in Congress and government would like to have those levels of public confidence confidence, but the nonpublic nonprofit section section is very trusted here in San Diego. Also thinking of volunteer show some interesting patterns and will show so far as the actual number of households think it'd volunteer in the first quarter dips a little bit begin a lot more in terms of dollar amount and hours.

ALISON ST. JOHN: So the giving, but isn't this the time of year that you'd expect it to drop off?

LAURA DIETRICK: I think the number is dropping off but the number of households is dipping a little bit, and effects of getting more money from fewer families.

ALISON ST. JOHN: Are too many people not getting feedback on the economic ladder?

LAURA DIETRICK: Recovery is slow and ongoing even though we all feel a lot better and consumer confidence is up, there is still uncertainty around that.

ALISON ST. JOHN: On the other hand are some individuals able to be more generous?

LAURA DIETRICK: It's very important, we're talking about individuals, people like you and I, not necessarily foundations that give all year long. December is interesting because of it really is about individuals. In San Diego individuals are very important to our nonprofits because we have less access to foundation dollars than other cities of our size around the country. Or for example in California, Los Angeles, and San Francisco have more than we have here in San Diego so we really rely on individuals, and on wealthy and philanthropic individuals.

LEE LESCONO: You would be surprised at the amount of money that those red kettles that will bring it to the goal here in San Diego County is $800,000, those are all individuals. Sometimes kids and grandkids of parents that want to show what giving is all about, that becomes a symbol of the presence of nonprofits like the Salvation Army and the ability to help individually and that is important.

ALISON ST. JOHN: If you're talking to someone who has a giving spirit and has money to give, but is not sure where to start, what advice do you give to somebody who is a donor as to who to choose to give to?

LAURA DIETRICK: There a lot of worthy causes out there and we usually start with telling people to get to a cause that you're connected to somehow, there a lot of commercials out right now and what you can donate. Sometimes you may be feeling unsure about someone was standing outside of target. Maybe we can start with a relationship with someone who is helped you. Some kind of relationship in this piece about transparency and people who are unsure, there are some simple things including things on your website that you can do. Very simply just ask if you can get a tax ID, get a tax receipt for this. A legitimate non-top nonprofit can produce even the smallest receipt. You do need to be careful.

ALISON ST. JOHN: So you can go for one that you have heard about, and if you like what they're doing you ask for a tax receipt.

LAURA DIETRICK: Yes either that or do a simple Internet search, a legitimate organization has a presence to some degree.

ALISON ST. JOHN: Do think it's better for people to give a little to a lot of different charities or have a lot to one, better to make a big impact on one organization?

LAURA DIETRICK: I don't know that there is a certain one, it's amended individual choice to get like that. It depends are you trying to did beat a immediate need, you can spread it around to a food bank or something like that. Or get root causes and keep specific things around poverty earning and you're probably going to want to go deeper with one organization over a long period of time.

ALISON ST. JOHN: Does your research action show you about how people intend to give?

LAURA DIETRICK: Not really. We don't have a research on that yet.

ALSION ST.JOHN: There is a pretty broad swath of services in the Salvation Army, tell us about that.

LEE LESCONO: We service individuals at all ZIP Codes of San Diego. We really cover a lot of ground. People in a vast majority of people who come to us are families that are struggling to get by, sometimes working parents that can barely put food on the table, so that is particularly one China try to help, but at the same time we also have transitional living program's for women and children to a bit homeless including foster care mother's. A lot of programs like that and we let rehab programs people who are struggling with addiction to want to the lives around but need some deep help. As Laura said there sometimes we're just getting giving out Christmas toys and food, the times were working with someone for a year to eighteen months to get the back on their feet.

ALISON ST. JOHN: Are you seeing a change in the community?

LEE LESCONO: We have children on the streets and living out of cars and motels, and unfortunately this is only a little down as far as homelessness. There has been an uptick recently as well, but has been a problem for us as well for addiction and alcoholism, it almost as big or the fact that women struggle through that. We are seeing more families come to us because of the prolonged economic situation, people have been able to get by with friends or family and now they have to come to someone else for help.

ALISON ST. JOHN: Everyone working in the nonprofit sector, are they seeing the demand for services grow at this time?

LAURA DIETRICK: We've seen an uptick in demand and overall demand is pretty steady. We measure through tracking calls in San Diego. As remained relatively stable over the last couple years. His actually start to decline but we haven't seen the significant. It's great in San Diego we don't see that because we see our beautiful beaches and sunny skies, but feeding America is looking to put out two million pounds of food in December alone and 48% of our kids qualify for free and reduced lunch.

ALISON ST. JOHN: That is a shocking statistic, food, you would never think that San Diego has so much hunger within it. Do you find the people are looking for more concrete evidence of results?

LAURA DIETRICK: For some degree now yes. I put twenty dollars in the kettle at the salvation army, what should I expect for that. Donors are becoming quite sophisticated about that.

ALISON ST. JOHN: Is more about more than getting a tax receipt, what you give donors to show them what you're doing with the money?

LEE LESCONO: It's very important these days. For foundations and individuals they want to know that they've made a difference. The organization such as ours, this is true, sometimes you will not see a lot of the money it except that we have taken someone off the street or given family food for a week, but at the same time we try to keep track if we're giving we trace that around and break the cycle of homelessness and that is no coming that everyone can understand and appreciate that it saves more money in the long run, simply with changing someone who has been addicted, they've been in the system and medical costs are high, if we could show at perceptive of people that have really taken to a new lifestyle, I think people are appreciate this and that there is a difference and

ALISON ST. JOHN: Okay, you're telling us that giving is up from your number of people, other nonprofits that are struggling because they have not been able to keep the donations up? You're talking report about collaboration is a strategy design, are nonprofits doing partnership with each other now?

LAURA DIETRICK: We're talking about emerging from the resection. Nonprofits will continue to battle some of this related to household income and property and so essentially, there have been many tactics developed to survive in the recession and has corporations and nonprofits alike, some of those have been around merging in some of them have been around a lot more collaboration thinking outside of the box for lack of a better term around how can we put our services together

LEE LESCONO: It's been a good great conferences. The agenda planning committee leaders and this is exactly what they have stressed is even though we are a large organization, we need hundreds as well. To help others and to strengthen what we can do. We're seeing that and we're starting to work with coalitions and collaborations on both fronts. It's very important.

ALISON ST. JOHN: Tell us a little bit about the Institute at USD. It is such an interesting Institute for nonprofit research.

LAURA DIETRICK: We have wonderful Institute and what we do essentially has come from master's degrees in nonprofit management leadership and we have the Castro research center which I'm the director of, we do a lot of community education we have fantastic governments symposium, anyone on the board of directors is willing to come to our seminar, we do a lot of community education.

ALISON ST. JOHN: Thank you so much for coming in. Today is about giving and receiving and this is a lot of good opportunities for giving.