A Proper Harvest

We’re pushing back against nationwide fundraising disparities to strengthen the capital region.

Members of Cultivate and Marisa DeSalles (fourth from left)

To strengthen the Sacramento region, we must support the success of local nonprofit leaders — some of the very people who lead the charge for positive change in our community. But data from our past Big Days of Giving show that organizations led by people of color have consistently received less funding than similarly sized nonprofits led by their white counterparts, despite high-quality outcomes.

During Big Day of Giving 2022, they received 38% less.

To tackle this gap and support lasting solutions to large challenges in our community, we launched Cultivate, a cohort to nourish connection and collaboration among leaders of color at nonprofits participating in Big Day of Giving. As our partner in this work, Marisa DeSalles, describes below, the effort is reaping early rewards.

Good Tilth Consulting
Nonprofit fundraising expert and Big Day of Giving Mentor

In the summer of 2020, I rediscovered my love for gardening. Gardening is a lot like fundraising. Even with consistent efforts, your results are never guaranteed. But with the right inputs and careful work, and a little luck, you can reap a harvest that sustains your mission. 

Around the same time, I began noticing research across the country showing that fundraisers of color and organizations led by people of color were consistently raising less than their white peers. Even worse: even as diverse and forward-thinking as our beloved capital area is, we track with national trends. 

So, when the Sacramento Region Community Foundation invited me to collaborate on the idea that germinated into Cultivate, I saw an opportunity to combine my love of helping nonprofits succeed during Big Day of Giving with my newfound specialization in reducing the fundraising gap. 

The result was five rich, rewarding months of working with the 27 members of the inaugural Cultivate cohort. We assessed our needs, evaluated each other’s GivingEdge profiles, and explored topics like matching funds, peer-to-peer fundraising and developing strong boards of directors.  

Gathering in a safe, focused space with peers allowed for rapid ideation and leaps of creativity. We commiserated about the challenges of unpredictable funding, managing increasing need for our services, and retaining talented staff. We found new ways to encourage, collaborate, and uplift each other.  

For me, Big Day of Giving feels like a giant community garden made up of hundreds of community-serving organizations. On one day each year, the water flows freely from thousands of small faucets – the generous donors in this region. But it doesn’t reach all the plots equally. 

We all feast from this garden. We all benefit from its bounty. We all breathe the oxygen it gives. Some members of the garden are special seedlings, brimming with promise. The Cultivate cohort is where they get care, and love, and gentle watering, because you can’t water seedlings with a fire hose. 

This year’s Big Day of Giving has come and gone, and 762 of the nonprofits that feed us were watered with $13.8 million gallons of love. Over $420,000 went to the 27 special plants in the Cultivate section. I would call that a proper harvest. 

Learn about this year's Big Day of Giving

Efforts like Cultivate and new search filters on GivingEdge, the website that hosts Big Day of Giving, made it easier than ever for donors to find local nonprofits led by people of color during this year’s giving day. We know enduring change demands more. Thanks to generous support from The RCA Community Fund, we are expanding Cultivate programming in the coming year!

Learn about Cultivate