During a year characterized in so many ways by tragedy, change, and heartbreak, Community Foundation Sonoma County has responded to what feels like never-ending cycles of disaster brought on by seasons of wildfires and a pandemic. At the same time, we’ve witnessed daily examples of hearts opening to reveal more compassion and generosity than ever before.
This compassion quickly turned into action, characterized by three through-lines: a commitment to equity; increased giving; and building innovative partnerships.
Equity: The COVID pandemic has repeated the pattern we found to be true from other disasters: when it comes to access to resources, there is a great divide along the lines of both wealth and race, be it having secure employment or access to healthcare and vaccines.
As the early months of the pandemic unfolded, we quickly developed a focused grant strategy, investing nearly $4 million from our Sonoma County Resilience Fund into nonprofit organizations supporting communities disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.
As an organization, we are committed to taking on these issues at a fundamental level. This includes a deeper exploration of our foundation’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) principles, recognizing that we must look in the mirror as an organization and examine our own policies and practices. We will continue this journey at CFSC and support our nonprofit community in pursuing their own DEI work.
Giving: Philanthropists in Sonoma County, both those we’ve known for years as well as new donors, doubled down on their giving during the pandemic.
We saw incredible generosity from the broader community—raising nearly $5.7 million directly for our Resilience Fund focused on disaster response and recovery.
Courtesy of this generosity, CFSC made significant investments in nonprofits providing services to those needing food, shelter, and other basic human needs. We also continued our strategic investments in finding solutions to help heal community trauma as mental health issues brought on by disaster became even more apparent, especially among young people.
Partnership: In Sonoma County, we have a track record of coming together to innovate in times of disaster. This year we witnessed our nonprofit partners creatively and quickly changing the way they deliver services. As essential workers, staff at these organizations provided front-line service during a time of considerable risk. They are among our local heroes.
At CFSC, we also found new ways of partnering and leveraging relief funds by working with local leaders in Sonoma Valley and Healdsburg Forever to launch fundraising campaigns. These campaigns raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for financial assistance programs, vaccine and food distribution, all fighting the devastating impacts of Covid in their communities.
Like all organizations, our staff has had to be extremely nimble this year. we are very proud of how our team has handled the year’s challenges, doing so with flexibility and kindness. A particular bright spot has been the launch of our internship program, which has added young leaders to our staff, bringing new energy to our work.
We hope the report that follow will inspire you and that these stories open your heart as they have ours. They are reminders of the strength and vitality of this wonderful Sonoma County community we all call home.
Elizabeth Brown, President & CEO
Thelia Wade, Board Chair
Richard Davis-Lowell, Vice Chair