Neil Hokanson is the new chairman of the Rancho Santa Fe Foundation. He’d like to step up marketing to let more people know about the foundation’s reach. Photo by Jared Whitlock

New chairman beefing up Foundation’s marketing

RANCHO SANTA FE — New chairman Neil Hokanson called the Rancho Santa Fe Foundation “a well-kept secret” in San Diego. One of his goals during his two-year term: get the word out. 

The foundation is a public charity that’s managed donation assets for individuals and institutions for more than 30 years.

But unbeknownst to many, the foundation’s 29-member board serves all of the county and other areas, not just Rancho Santa Fe, Hokanson noted.

“While many of our donors are in Rancho Santa Fe, we really are a countywide and beyond organization,” Hokanson said. “We want to do a better job of making that point.”

To increase outreach, Hokanson said the foundation’s marketing committee has recently beefed up social media efforts.

Also, members will be encouraged to emphasize the scope of the foundation when talking with organizations and potential donors. Third, letting the financial community know about the foundation is a priority.

“They have clients that are philanthropically inclined,” said Hokanson, who himself is the president of Hokanson Associates, a financial planning company in Solana Beach.

Hokanson said some other areas of the foundation could use polish, but said that he’s largely happy with its direction. He noted the foundation has grown rapidly over the last decade; and attributes the rise to more people wanting to identify how exactly they can give back.

“People are beyond just writing a check,” Hokanson said.

“People realize for a variety of reasons they want to become philanthropically involved,” he added. “Do they want to frame a house for habitat for humanity, do they want their children involved, do they want this locally or abroad — there’s lot of issues.

Some people have thought that through, but others want to explore this. We help them explore.”

Further, the foundation offers charities feedback in order to make them more attractive for donors.

“We do a great job of this, and I’d like to continue that,” Hokanson said.

Hokanson, who began serving on the foundation board five years ago, credits post-college travel with sparking an interest in charity and aiding the less fortunate.

“After graduating from college, I spent three plus years overseas,” Hokanson said.

“I worked my way around the world with odd jobs. I worked in Iran teaching helicopter mechanics, I ran sheep in Chile, cattle in Uruguay and picked apples in New Zealand, he said.”

“I spent a lot of time on the streets, watching how people beg and how crime transpires,” he said. “That’s far away in my current world, but it’s helped me understand some of the challenges and opportunities of philanthropy.”

Hokanson was elected as chairman about 12 months ago.

But he’ll step into the position a year earlier than planned “through an unfortunate sequence,” as Chairman Ron McMahon is recovering from a stroke and cannot carry out the rest of his term.

To prepare for his new role, Hokanson said he’s been interviewing past leaders of the foundation.

“I want to draw on their knowledge and visions to incorporate the best ideas into the foundation,” Hokanson said.

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Don Moore January 19, 2013 at 1:32 pm

Congrats, Neal!

Thomas Champion July 5, 2013 at 4:23 pm

Long time, my friend. Looks like things are going well. I have two novels out on Amazon’s Kindle Book Store: The Far Side of the Shadow Screen (an occult adventure set in Indonesia) and The Desert Surfer (a comic adventure set in Arizona in the 70’s). If you have a chance, check them out and let me know what you think. Again, congratulations on this wonderful project.

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