The Unsung Heroes of Big Day of Giving

This year, Big Day of Giving (BDOG) connected more than 23,000 donors with over 600 of the nonprofit organizations that serve the capital area. Those donors gave $8.4 million to support local causes on May 2, surpassing the $7.4 million raised in 2018 and bringing the total generated during the region’s annual giving day to nearly $40 million since its inception in 2013.

Learn more about this year's Big Day of Giving

These record-breaking numbers might not have happened without this important
figure: 19, the number of volunteer Big Day of Giving Mentors. These seasoned nonprofit professionals ran BDOG campaigns for their organizations and
donated over 200 hours to help other participants fortify essential skills needed
to have a successful Big Day of Giving.

Mentors at a post-BDOG focus group

From marketing and storytelling, to donor engagement and board development, to
technology mastery and event planning, the insight BDOG Mentors provided supplemented the annual trainings the Foundation hosts to build those skills.

The benefits of mentorship for participating organizations are many. Not only are the nonprofit staff and volunteers from mentored organizations better equipped to run campaigns on Big Day of Giving, they also implement the skills they develop into their year-round efforts, further advancing their missions in our community. Too, they are better connected to the larger nonprofit sector, which was a chief aim
of the Foundation in launching Big Day of Giving.

“You can’t talk about what Big Day of Giving means for area nonprofits without talking about the way it builds links between organizations through things like the Mentor program,” says Dan Germain, Executive Director of Kiwanis Family House, which provides temporary housing and support to families navigating medical crises, and raised over $110,000 during Big Day of Giving this year. Together, Dan and his wife, Rita, drew on their longtime Big Day of Giving participation when they served as Mentors.

“When you’re a Mentor, you’re not only giving,” says Dan. “You get so much back, and not only because you meet new people and gain new friends, but you’re expanding your network, and you learn things by talking to and watching other people.”

Among those Dan and Rita mentored were Lisa Fine and LoriDawn Messuri, first-time participants with Route91Strong, an organization that provides financial assistance and resources for recovery to survivors of mass gun violence. They say the guidance they received from the Germains and other BDOG Mentors, the Bootcamps, and other capacity-building activities was critical to the success of their campaign, which raised over $13,000 to support their mission.

“The community around Big Day of Giving was everything to us,” said Fine who frequently called on the Germains to advise her and her team on how best to  develop and navigate Route91Strong’s BDOG strategy. “Starting from the first time that we all met, to the trainings, the mixers, the mentorship—it really lifted us.”

By fostering collaboration, mutual learning, and trust within the local nonprofit sector, Big Day of Giving Mentors are helping build a stronger Sacramento region.


Big Day of Giving Mentors are a valuable resource for new and returning
organizations alike. “Just having someone to call was helpful for us,” one mentee remarked in a post-BDOG focus group. We’d like to thank this year’s Big Day of Giving Mentors for their support:

Amanda Cable, Sacramento Zoo
Melissa Arnold, Stanford Youth Solutions
Julie Bornhoeft, WEAVE
Marisa DeSalles, Project R.I.D.E.
Kimberly Diaz, American Red Cross
Dan & Rita Germain, Kiwanis Family House
Tonya Goins, First Tee of Greater Sacramento
Licia King, CCHAT
Giuliano Kornberg, Sacramento Philharmonic & Opera
Chris Mateo, PNDA
Christine McMorrow, Center for Land-Based Learning
Rachel Minnick, Reading Partners
Larisa Perryman, Runnin’ for Rhett
Linda Revilla, Asian Community Center (ACC)
Julie Rhoten, Stanford Settlement
Colette Rice
Justin Self, 916 Ink
Kara Walker, Placer Land Trust


Big Day of Giving 2019 would not have been possible without an engaged and inspired community of donors, including the Foundation’s generous fundholders who gave over $700,000 to support the region’s nonprofits through Donor Advised Funds. 

Community partners also helped make the philanthropic spirit palpable on May 2.

Through its lead sponsorship of this year’s Big Day of Giving, Western Health Advantage (WHA) underwrote training opportunities for participating nonprofits that reach far beyond the one-day giving event and helped energize nonprofit and donor participation by sponsoring prizes to boost nonprofits’ day-of totals and ncourage donor support. 

“We felt compelled to support Big Day of Giving because of its impact. Every philanthropic business across the world wishes it could support every single organization that requests resources, but that is simply impossible. Supporting a community-wide effort like BDOG helps raise funds for over 600 organizations and empowers those nonprofits with tools to be successful year-round, so it comes close,” says Rick Heron, WHA’s Chief Marketing & Brand Officer.

“As we see it, by sharing our success with others, we are paying back the region that supports Western Health Advantage. It’s a virtuous cycle that’s  winning proposition for the nonprofit sector and the region as a whole,” he says.

In addition to WHA, we’d like to thank the Cannady-Ford Family Fund; the Keller Family Pathway Fund; the James & Susan McClatchy Fund; Nugget Markets, Inc.; Golden1 Credit Union; Boutin Jones, Inc.; Boyd & Associates; SMUD; Linda Brandenburger; Earl Consulting Co., LLC; and the Big Day of Giving Media Partners for their support. 

View a complete list of BDOG2019 partners


By focusing on the root causes of local challenges, seeking solutions with long-term results, and supporting the organizations that tend to the vital needs of the capital area, we help create the conditions for meaningful transformation in the Sacramento region. 

Learn MORe about our strategic initiatives