Exit Letter for Self-Sufficiency Grant Strategy

Dear Friends,

In the 12 years since becoming independent, the Leichtag Foundation has awarded $110 million in grants to hundreds of talented and trusted partner nonprofits which work to better the lives of thousands of community members. At the time of our independence, we made the decision to be a limited life foundation so that we could pursue our philanthropic impact with the sense of urgency that a limited timeline demands. From the start, we have tried to plan for our eventual exit from the various fields, organizations, and areas we support, knowing that building sustainability and resilience would be critical.

Guided by our limited life approach, the Foundation has aimed to constantly evaluate and assess our impact in strategic areas, particular fields of focus, and individual organizations. As fields developed, strengthened and evolved, and community needs changed, we exited grantmaking in two fields since our inception, Holocaust Education and Intergroup Relations.  In both instances, we tried to minimize the immediate impact on grantees by employing a variety of strategies, including bridge funding, capacity building particularly in the area of resource development, support for leadership, and more.

We wanted you to know that our Board has made the decision to exit grantmaking in a third field, Self-Sufficiency, by the end of our next fiscal year, September 30, 2020.  This decision was not made lightly and was based on an extensive analysis of what we can reasonably expect to accomplish.  We know that self-sufficiency needs are complicated and remain high. As such, we commit to supporting our grantees and those they serve, during the next 18-month transitional period and are in conversation with all current grantees regarding their funding.

Since 2007, the Foundation has invested $20,018,600 in 142 Self-Sufficiency organizations working to break the cycle of poverty through direct service, advocacy, education, and research.  Foundation support was key in developing innovative social service models, fostering stronger safety nets of care, and leveraging competitive government and private dollars which opened doors to greater opportunity and impact.  Seed and sustaining funding supported provider networks that build and enrich overall field capacity, including the Hunger Advocacy Network, Alliance for Regional Solutions and its North County Food Policy Council, San Diego Food System Alliance and others.

This work could not have been accomplished without the dedication and guidance of talented nonprofit professionals and our seasoned peers in philanthropy.  A list of all Self-Sufficiency grantees is posted at www.leichtag.org.

Adhering to one of our most closely-held principles of using all Foundation resources, not just direct funding, to help advance the work of our partners, we will continue to employ a broad range of tools to achieve impact. This includes strengthening grantee capacity through technical assistance, professional development support, introductions to other leaders in the field, and facilitating collaborations. As a co-working space and provider of monthly professional development opportunities, The Hive at Leichtag Commons provides a dynamic platform for this work. Most grantees have received at least one form of non-monetary assistance, which will continue through the funding transition and beyond.

Of greatest concern in field exits is how eliminated funds will be replaced.  To that end, one of our most significant support tools has always been leveraging additional funds: helping grantees find the resources required to thrive, plan for a viable future, and continue serving the community as needs persist.  Over the past few years, we have expanded group and individualized fundraising strategy sessions and professional development opportunities available to grantees. We have also curated crowdfunding campaigns and giving circle models and increased communication around “matching” or “challenge” grants to help heighten community awareness regarding needs and attract new sources of grantee support.

Serving the most vulnerable in our community was a passion for the Leichtags and is one of the most closely-held, foundational Jewish imperatives. Our commitment to championing this issue as friends, advocates, and ambassadors has not waned. Though we will exit grantmaking in the field of self-sufficiency, we well understand the depth, importance and sacred nature of this work. Please do not hesitate to call on either of us at any time during the transitional period and afterwards if we can be of assistance or influence.

With much gratitude and profound respect,