Hands on Philanthropists Find Partner in East Bay Community Foundation

Donor Story: Mendelson Family

Joan Sautter and Dr. Roger Mendelson—the sister and brother team behind the Mendelson Family Fund–are avid philanthropists with deep Bay Area roots. Following their mother’s passing in 1999, Joan and Roger found themselves in a position to increase their family’s giving, and desired to do so locally. Based on their shared commitment to children and youth, their first grants went to organizations that provide community-based services to vulnerable children.

Joan and Roger became increasingly engaged as donors while EBCF staff facilitated their learning about the important work of local nonprofits. When EBCF introduced them to six like-minded donors in 2002, they saw an opportunity to leverage the impact of their charitable giving. Together, they established the Youth Development Donor Circle (YDDC). Donor circles enable individual donors to connect with fellow donors who share similar charitable interests, pool their charitable funds, and provide significant support in areas of common interest. By joining together in such a way, Joan and Roger were able to have a greater impact on their Oakland community.

Joan and Roger continue to be active and dedicated East Bay philanthropists and have generously supported numerous local nonprofits working to improve the life outcomes of vulnerable children, families, and the broader community. Both have been tremendously fulfilled by their philanthropy and find charitable giving “rewarding and thrilling.” They believe that there is much opportunity to learn from the younger generations, and hope to collaboratively and proactively address and find solutions to problems and inequities. They believe in philanthropy because, as Roger wisely states, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”