If we had to pick one word to define long-time ESC supporter Joan Payden, it’s collaboration. As Founder, President and CEO of the global investment management firm of Payden & Rygel, Joan is driven to building partnerships in every aspect of her work – and in her philanthropy. And since partnership and collaboration are deeply held values at ESC as well, we’re proud to feature Joan in this year’s Report to the Community.
ESC: You have generously provided ESC with support for many years, both through your company and as an individual contributor. What inspires you to continue giving?
Joan: I am very supportive of nonprofits in general and, in many cases, they do a lot of wonderful things. But I don’t know of another organization that does what ESC does. ESC is filled with people – the staff and volunteers – who are providing their time and expertise, and making a huge difference helping nonprofit run as strong organizations. I think it’s amazing.
ESC: How is what ESC does different than other nonprofits?
Joan: I think no other organization has the expertise available to them that you do. Some nonprofit leaders unfortunately have difficulty running their organizations, despite their strong missions. The organizations often lose money, and are even taken advantage of because of it. ESC has pinpointed the need for help in this area. And while in a nonprofit you sometimes get one or two people who have had some training, in your case all the consultants are highly trained. Your consulting approach provides expertise in helping these organizations run. And while you don’t necessarily bring expertise in their precise program areas, you bring that operations piece that so many nonprofits need.
ESC: In addition to general support, you also helped launch ESC’s Social Justice Sponsorship Fund. Why do believe this Fund is so important, and what do you hope will be its impact?
Joan: For a number of years, there has been a focus on social justice and my company receives a lot of RFPs requesting funding in this area. But the problem didn’t just happen, and it won’t go away by quick, short term, or separate programs. I believe social justice and diversity should be embedded in what an organization does. The beauty of this Fund is that it will continue and build on tactics that are already solidly in place at ESC. The Fund lowers the limitations of who you can offer your services to, and you can affect more organizations to help more people and have a greater community impact.
ESC: What message would you like to give to individuals, corporations or foundations who are thinking about giving to ESC or other nonprofits?
Joan: Whether it’s a nonprofit or a for-profit organization, the most important things to look for are leadership and collaboration. If the leadership is poor, it leaves the staff without a vision, and the work is just not going to get done. But at the same time, sometimes the leadership is excellent but the team doesn’t collaborate. In these cases, the leadership doesn’t flow throughout the organization. That’s why both are important.
In fact, my company just had a really strong year – in spite of the pandemic. I attribute this to the collaboration between and among our staff. ESC hits this all at once. It’s their focus. There’s no agenda or ulterior motive for ESC’s consultants, so clients can be totally honest when getting help from ESC. It must make your volunteers feel wonderful.
ESC: Is there anything else you’d like to share?
Joan: I believe people should give because of their passions, even if they don’t have a lot of money to give. Actually I’m surprised that people are not as supportive of others as I would hope. Find organizations and causes that you care about deeply and support them, both personally and through your company. We started a nonprofit to give money for clothes, computers and other necessities for scholarship students and I also gave to a school that needed a baseball field. We did this because we care about the kids. In philanthropy, follow your passion and interests and not your ego. You will find personal meaning and that you can do wonderful things.