Hooked on Giving

Program Manager, Impact Systems
November 8, 2021

Big Day of Giving 2021 was a true display of community-driven philanthropy. The numbers are certainly impressive: On May 6, nonprofits in the Sacramento region raised a record-breaking $13.3 million, bringing the total generated since the inception of this annual giving day to more than $65 million. In all, over 36,500 donors gave more than 66,000 gifts as part of the community-wide effort to 688 local nonprofits, the most to ever participate.

The numbers are amazing. The spirit behind them is inspiring. Just think about it: Together, our community sent a clear message that the work of nonprofits matters—a message that many participating nonprofits’ leaders told me carried special meaning more than a year after the COVID-19 pandemic first began to stress their organizations’ services and operations.

As Program Manager of Big Day of Giving at the Foundation, I hear so many of the incredible stories that result from this region-wide celebration of philanthropy. What strikes me again and again is this: The real magic behind Big Day of Giving is how this effort fosters ties between people and place, between neighbors.

Recent research has shown that communities with robust nonprofit sectors exhibit greater well-being, including more expressions of positive emotions and supportive relationships. Engagement with community-serving organizations promotes shared purposes and greater senses of self-efficacy among community members. I can’t think of more worthy goals!

Each year, Big Day of Giving brings more community members into the fold. This year, about 20% of donors who gave during Big Day of Giving did so for the first time. Most supported one nonprofit—an awesome thing, for sure. But what we know from a survey of more than 1,700 people who gave this year is that donors who returned for their second Big Day of Giving were significantly more likely to support two or more organizations and to give more. And the trend continues among those donors who returned for their third Big Day of Giving, and so on!

(Survey results of the 1,700 donors who participated in Big Day of Giving 2021)

When people are bitten by the philanthropy bug, many are hooked. I love that about the effort and look forward each year to seeing how the region’s nonprofits energize their donors and innovate their outreach.

For our part, we do everything in our power to continue bringing community members into the fold. To ensure Big Day of Giving continues to inspire philanthropy—and, consequently, foster meaningful connections—we approach organizing each year with the spirit of innovation. We pore over survey responses from the donors who gave and the staff and volunteers who ran campaigns. We dig through giving data and website analytics. We pick the brains of the nonprofit professionals who comprise our Big Day of Giving Mentors, an advisory team and sounding board.

In short, we ask: How can Big Day of Giving continue to foster ties between people and place, between neighbors? As we plan for next year's Big Day of Giving, that question remains top-of-mind, guiding this collaborative effort to foster a more generous, more connected community.


As we plan next year’s Big Day of Giving—which will be held Thursday, May 5, 2022—we are always seeking ways to improve the region-wide giving event. What might be the most noticeable change next year? GivingEdge, the website that powers Big Day of Giving, has been upgraded, bringing new features to the capital area’s online nonprofit database.

Check out the refreshed GivingEdge

But here's something that's not changing: The team at Western Health Advantage is once again returning as the lead sponsor. We are so thankful for their many years of support to keep our region's philanthropic spirit healthy!


Only with the help of community partners were we able to facilitate Big Day of Giving 2021.

Western Health Advantage
Cannady-Ford Family Fund
Keller Family Pathway Fund
Nugget Markets, Inc.
The James & Susan McClatchy Fund
Golden 1 Credit Union
Earl Consulting Co., LLC
Linda Brandenburger Charitable Fund
The Bartig Family Fund


Big Day of Giving is a program of our initiative to Expand Philanthropy and the Social Economy.

Learn more about Big Day of Giving

To explore the profiles of hundreds of local nonprofits, visit GivingEdge, the website that powers Big Day of Giving, at www.givingedge.org.