Giving from San Antonio metro area charitable foundations increased by 32.5% over a five year period, with 36 different foundations distributing $1 million or more in contributions, according to a study by Philanthropy Southwest.

The study, which analyzes data from 2009-2014, shows that philanthropic giving in the Southwest United States has nearly doubled since 2011. The San Antonio Area Foundation and the Baptist Health Foundation co-hosted a conference Friday at the Whitley Theological Center that presented an overview of the study to local foundations and nonprofit representatives.

To read the full study, click here. To look at Texas-specific data, click here.

Philanthropy Southwest is a regional association of grant makers across Texas, Oklahoma, Nevada, New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona, and Arkansas. Its aim is to get philanthropic organizations to collaborate and exchange ideas on the best ways to address societal issues through philanthropy.

“The biggest trend that we’re seeing amongst grant makers is that people are collaborating so much more, and so you see the major hospital systems who are coming together to address mental health issues,” said San Antonio Area Foundation Chief Executive Officer Dennis E. Noll. “We see so many initiatives across the city where funders are cooperating. That really is the new and exciting trend.”

Janice Bobo, a grant writer for the Children’s Shelter, told the Rivard Report that numbers from the study will be useful to raise visibility on certain issues.

“It’s important to share it with out board members and other community stakeholders to make sure they understand not only where the funders are coming from but where we as grant seekers are also coming from,” Bobo said.

Eusebio Diaz, vice president of programs for the Baptist Health Foundation, said local foundations can maximize their impact by working together.

“The challenge for us is that we have fewer and smaller foundations, so we really need to collaborate because you’ve got some bigger foundations in other parts of the state where there’s more resources anyway, so that creates a challenge,” he said.

Credit: Courtesy / Jankowski Associates

San Antonio’s top 10 foundations by dollars given are:

Philanthropy Southwest did not only look at charitable giving from foundations but also at giving from individuals who itemize charitable donations on their tax returns.

Credit: Courtesy / Jankowski Associates

According to lead investigator Kathy Jankowski, Texas has an average charitable contribution of $7,253, which is above the national average of $5,807. The top societal issues that received the most funds are human services ($36,365,500), health ($30,468,287), and education ($29,990,761).

“From the perspective of funding, you want to look at where the gaps are that you might be interested in that aren’t being funded at this time,” said Baptist Health Foundation Associate Trustee Jorge Zayasbazan. “From the perspective of causes, you look at the cause, and you try to match it to what funders are interested in, figure out specific ways of addressing the same issue, like obesity outside of just health. So you want to follow the money and see what’s going on and what the interest is out there.”

Although San Antonio foundation giving is growing, Austin received more in foundation giving in 2014: San Antonio received $175,675,976 while Austin received a total of $263,500,737.

Diaz said the recent $605 million gift from John L. Santikos to the San Antonio Area Foundation is a game changer for local philanthropy. Santikos, who built the largest family-owned movie theater chain in Texas, was one of San Antonio’s wealthiest business owners and real estate investors. He left the bulk of his estate, his operating businesses, and real estate holdings to be administered by the foundation.

“If you look at the Area Foundation and what they’ve done with the Santikos gift, I mean that’s a game changer for any community – to grow that big and that quickly,” Diaz said. “It completely changes the landscape. You’re able to look at things in a much deeper way.”

Jankowski said that current data from the Philanthropy Southwest study doesn’t show the Santikos impact since the numbers are from 2014, and Santikos passed away that same year, but the Santikos funds are the largest charitable gift ever made in San Antonio’s history.

“The San Antonio Area Foundation is today the largest grant-giver in the San Antonio region. It’s in the top 25 in all of Texas because of this gift,” she said. “The gift is so uniquely inspirational that I can’t believe everyone in the country doesn’t know” the Santikos name.

Noll said that philanthropy still has a long way to go in San Antonio, but if organizations work together to look at philanthropic giving trends and focus on major issues, the possibilities to make a much bigger and more meaningful impact are endless.

“We’ve been dealing with issues like generational poverty that still dominates our Eastside and Westside neighborhoods, we have school districts that have struggled for 50 years, and a bunch of us have been running around dealing with them individually for decades, and it hasn’t had a systemic change,” he said. “The question that’s in the horizon is, if we begin to work together to establish common metrics, to set goals, figure out what the best practices are nationwide, and begin to apply them together, what a difference we can make.”

Rocío Guenther

Rocío Guenther worked as a bilingual reporter and editorial assistant for the Rivard Report from June 2016 to October 2017. She is originally from Guadalajara, Mexico and holds a bachelor's in English...