Happy New Year from Hirsch & Associates

Dear Friends & Colleagues,

2017 was quite a year.  Whether it felt galvanizing, discouraging, or somewhere in between, what stands out to me after more than three decades in philanthropy is that we are resilient.  

Time and again we are guided by fundamental values of generosity, equity and community.  Sometimes our efforts feel like a drop in the systemic ocean.  But philanthropy stepped up this past year with renewed commitment and passion to create real change for real people.  Together we worked to protect the rights of the most vulnerable.  To expand access to health and education.  To maintain a robust and independent media.  To promote democracy.   

In the coming year, our team at Hirsch & Associates is inspired to create philanthropic impact, accelerate outstanding work, fill gaps in community needs, and build the innovative collaborations and public-private partnerships that have been our hallmark for close to twenty years. Community partnerships are in our DNA and needed now more than ever.

Here are a few highlights of our work together in 2017 to create stronger, healthier, more democratic communities.

Protecting Democracy

In the past year, we helped direct more than $4M targeted to rapid response and long-term strategies to protect democracy and civic engagement; defend the rights and civil liberties of vulnerable populations; expand access to health and education; advance scientific research; and ensure a robust, independent media.

We delivered urgent seed funding to a new start-up organization founded by former White House attorneys to protect our democracy from abuses of power.  Protect Democracy Project and United to Protect Democracy proved to be powerful, strategic and nimble in 2017, working to bolster democracy while dealing with evolving challenges and with innovative metrics to measure success.  In partnership with democracy experts, they created a groundbreaking Democracy Threat Index that will help inform their work in 2018.

We are proud to continue our partnership with their forward-thinking Executive Director Ian Bassin.  If you would like more information about the work of the Protect Democracy Project, please let us know.

Safer Children and Families: Preventing Gun Violence

For years, we have been proud to partner with three stellar gun violence prevention organizations: Sandy Hook PromiseEverytown for Gun Safety plus Moms Demand Action, and Giffords: Courage to Fight Gun Violence

This holiday season, Hirsch & Associates Philanthropic Advisors was thrilled to select the extraordinary Sandy Hook Promise Know the Signs program as the recipient of our annual holiday gift, in support of their upcoming expansion of Say Something violence prevention for children and teens to San Francisco Bay Area schools.  They have trained 2.5 million people with mental health, bullying and substance abuse prevention, and have a 24/7 call center and a mobile app.

Most powerfully, Know the Signs has averted multiple school shootings, including one in California.

If you haven’t already seen it, we encourage you to watch their powerful Evan, the most awarded PSA of 2017 and their recently released Tomorrow’s News.  Prepare to be moved.  

Coming Together for Communities: Northern California Fire Relief

Late last year, Hirsch & Associates partnered with you to direct emergency funding for our neighboring communities impacted by the Northern California Fires.  The response effort is now moving from relief to recovery, with the region’s longer-term needs focused on housing and workforce concerns.  In the weeks following the devastation, the already-high median monthly rent in Sonoma County jumped 35%, greatly affecting renters and hourly workers, particularly those who lost jobs or wages after the fires.  In Napa County, the 20,000 workers in agricultural and hospitality industries are expected to see reduced wages through Spring of 2018.

We will continue to monitor opportunities to support residents over the long term.  The need in this region is still great, so please let us know if you’d like to contribute to any of these three outstanding funds.  100% of donations will support individuals and communities affected by the fires.

  • A joint effort by the three Napa, Sonoma and Mendocino County community foundations, Silicon Valley Community Foundation’s Northern California Fire Fund .
  • Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugee’sUndocuFund for Fire Relief will provide direct funding to support the 28,000 undocumented immigrants who live and work in Sonoma County but are not eligible to receive FEMA assistance.
  • Latino Community Foundation’s NorCal Fire Relief Fund supports three strong, local Latino nonprofit organizations – North Bay Organizing Project, in Santa Rosa; La Luz Center, in Sonoma; and UpValley Family Centers in Calistoga – that support families and farmworker communities.

Growing our Team

We continue to build our expert, cross-sector team with incredible new hires this year, including two senior leaders who bring innovative business, social impact, humanitarian and philanthropic experience.

We welcomed Margaret Ryan as our new Chief Operating Officer and Senior Managing Director, and Negeen Darani as Senior Director.

We expanded our capacity to serve philanthropists with impeccable program and administrative hires, including Pedro Arista as Program Officer, Alex Miller as Grants Associate, Meital Rosenberg as Program Assistant and Grants Associate, and Karina Chanysheva as Administrative Assistant.

Since our founding, Hirsch & Associates has been deeply committed to Diversity and Inclusion – for women, people of color, and LGBT and young people – to create a more innovative and productive workplace and philanthropic sector.   

We don’t know what the new year will bring, but we are looking forward to being inspired by our partnerships with generous philanthropists and passionate community organizations.

Wishing you and your families a Happy New Year!

Warmest wishes,


In 1999, Susan Hirsch founded Hirsch & Associates Philanthropic Advisors to help philanthropists solve the great challenges of our time.  Susan was a leader of the emerging philanthropic advising field in the San Francisco Bay Area, now an epicenter of philanthropic innovation.  Today, Hirsch & Associates directs more than $100M annually to create high-impact change.  We have assembled a team of the smartest cross-sector experts we could find.  Our Hirsch & Associates team does more than just advise. We help you create lasting impact.