What does The San Francisco Foundation fund?
Eligibility: Is my organization eligible to apply?
Other Frequently Asked Questions
Instructions for the Application Form
Tips for Completing Each Section
Sample Purpose Statements, Outcomes, and Activities
The San Francisco Foundation welcomes unsolicited applications in five program areas for the Open Application Responsive grant program once a year.
The 2012-2013 Open Application Grant Program opened on November 12, 2012, and closed on January 14, 2013.
Applications are evaluated for alignment with the Foundation’s strategic goals and objectives listed below:
- Arts and Culture Program
- Community Development Program
- Community Health Program
- Education Program
- Environment Program
For more information about all the Foundation’s grant programs, please visit our Programs and Initiatives page.
The information below, including application and eligibility guidelines, applies to all Foundation grant programs.
What does The San Francisco Foundation fund?
The San Francisco Foundation offers three main types of support:
Project Support: Restricted to a specific piece of work that provides direct benefit to the organization’s constituents over a period of time to achieve measurable results. Project support grants may be used to pay for all costs directly related to the operation of the project. Project support grants cannot be used for general administration of the organization (also known as indirect costs).
Capacity Building Support: Generally awarded for activities that strengthen an organization, or a coalition of organizations, to better achieve its mission. Capacity building may include expansion of services, infrastructure improvement, organizational assessment, strategic planning, board/staff development, and so on. The grant is restricted to a particular activity, and the outcomes of the capacity building project must be conducted over a set period of time to achieve measurable results.
Core Operating Support: Also known as general support. An organization may use the funds in any way that supports its mission.
The Foundation generally does not fund:
- Projects outside the five Bay Area counties we serve (Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, and San Mateo)
- Medical, academic, or scientific research
- Religious activities (although religious institutions may apply for non-religious community services)
- Direct assistance to individuals
- Conferences or one-time events
- Visit the Program Pages for Program-specific information
In some circumstances, the Foundation may support costs for:
- Planning and implementing capital campaigns
- Front-end funding necessary to undertake affordable housing and community development projects
- Modest-scale capital projects when presented in the context of a plan for meeting community needs
- Medical research that meets the terms of a restricted trust
- Projects initiated by individuals when supported by a capable fiscal sponsor
Organizations that meet the criteria below are eligible to apply.
Valid tax exempt status: 501(c)(3), public entity, or fiscal sponsor
The Foundation only makes grants to organizations with 501(c)(3) tax status or to government entities. If your organization does not have tax exempt status, you must apply using a fiscal sponsor.
Projects must benefit residents in at least one of the five Bay Area counties we serve: Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, and San Mateo. If an organization is based outside these five counties, the total number of constituents benefiting from service must be competitive with local organizations. Please contact the appropriate Program Director or Program Officer to discuss before applying.
Restriction on concurrent and overlapping grants
Organizations are allowed to apply for, and receive funding, in both the Open Application cycle and other annual grant programs.
City or County Departments
City or county departments or programs at a university are considered to be separate entities. In other words, we will accept an application from a city’s Department of Public Health concurrently with an application from a city’s Department of Public Works.
Three-year time limit
The below three-year time limit was waived in 2010. Subsequently, if your organization received a grant in 2011 and 2012, an approved grant in 2013 will be considered a third year of funding and your organization will be required to take a break in 2014.
Typically, the Foundation will not award more than three years of consecutive funding. A break of one year is required. Three years of consecutive funding is defined as:
- Three 12-month grants awarded in three consecutive San Francisco Foundation fiscal years, regardless of grant start and end dates.
- A combination of a 12- and a 24-month grant awarded in three consecutive San Francisco Foundation fiscal years, regardless of grant start and end dates.
- One 36-month grant.
Grants offered through special initiatives, mini-grant programs, or RFPs do not count toward the time limit.
The Foundation requires that any applicant organization with an annual budget of $1,000,000 or greater must provide a recent (within two years) copy of audited financial statements.
Organizations with annual budgets less than $1,000,000 are required to provide the most recently filed IRS Form 990.
Waivers to this policy are occasionally granted for organizations undergoing rapid financial growth or who have received windfall gifts.
Audit requirement for Fiscal Sponsors
The San Francisco Foundation requires that all fiscal sponsors provide recent audited financials. If your project is fiscally sponsored, you must provide a copy of the fiscal sponsor’s audit. Waivers to this policy are occasionally granted via a formal waiver request process. Please consult with the appropriate Program Staff.
How much can I apply for?
Our average competitive grant is approximately $22,000 with a duration of 12 months, yet varies by Program Area.
What happens after I submit the application?
Applications are formally acknowledged via email with a tracking number. You will receive email notification regarding the status of your application approximately ten weeks after the deadline. For a complete grant cycle calendar, please click here.
Please note all grant communications from the Foundation are now through electronic mail. Please add “firstname.lastname@example.org” to your safe senders list to ensure you will receive our emails.
What if I miss the application deadline?
Due to the large volume of applications received by the Foundation, we regret that we cannot accept late applications.
What if I have an urgent project?
In rare instances, the Foundation will expedite processing for a project that has an urgent need and that is closely aligned with the Foundation’s strategic goals. Please contact a member of the Program Department to discuss your circumstances before submitting an urgent request.
May I receive assistance with my application?
The Program staff conducts How to Apply workshops, and we welcome your questions. For a schedule of upcoming workshops, click here. To access a full staff contact list, click here. For help regarding Grantee Center navigation, please use the Help link located at the top and bottom of the Grantee Center screens, or click here to view the Help pages.
Can I view the application before logging in to Grantee Center?
You may download PDF versions of the FY13 applications below. Please note, you must submit your application through Grantee Center.
- Arts and Culture application
- Community Development application
- Community Health application
- Education application
- Environment application
The application is an online form accessible via Grantee Center. Each user will create a unique Grantee Center account to access information related to your organization. Grantee Center allows users to view current grant opportunities, current applications, past applications, and grant history with the Foundation.
Each field has a fixed font size and type – Verdana, 12 point, single-spaced. Users cannot change the font. Please note that special formatting such as bullets may be lost due to system constraints, therefore please keep your formatting simple.
The fields on the application form are limited to a fixed number of characters as listed below. Character counts include spaces, punctuation, and line breaks. White space on the form is not an accurate indicator of the maximum box size.
The Foundation strongly recommends using a word processing program to write your answers, then copy and paste your text into the online application after saving a copy to your personal computer. This allows for spell checking and character counts, and ensures that you have saved a copy of the information you provide.
BOX CHARACTERS – Please limit your response to the space available.
Mission Statement – 760
Purpose – 300
Organization and Project Information
Organizational Background/Question 1 – 2,200
Alignment with Foundation Values/Question 2 – 1,200
Alignment with Foundation Values/Question 3 – 1,200
Describe how your organization will address the identified objective – 1,200
Describe how your organization will address the identified strategy – 1,200
Outcomes (3) – 800 each
Activities (5) – 600 each
Indicators of Success – 1,750
Evaluation/Impact – 1,750
Prior TSFF Funding – 1,500
Lobbying – 600
Budget “Other” Explained – 800
Fundraising Plan – 2,200
Target Population – 1,045
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Before you begin your grant application, you are asked to indicate the counties in our service area this grant will cover. You may select multiple counties. Your project must serve at least one of the counties listed to be eligible for funding from The San Francisco Foundation.
The San Francisco Foundation requests that you verify your organization’s tax status each time you apply for a grant. Independent projects that do not have tax-exempt status may be fiscally sponsored by another organization that is tax-exempt (the sponsor). Generally, independent projects have their own advisory board. The project should also have a contract or MOU with the sponsor that outlines each group’s responsibilities.
If your organization uses a fiscal sponsor, please indicate that your tax status is “None of the Above” and add a Fiscal Sponsor. Once you have added a fiscal sponsor for your grant, your organization will remain connected to that fiscal sponsor, and the relationship will appear on subsequent grant applications. You can change your fiscal sponsor and your tax status through Grantee Center.
Address and EIN
Please verify that the Foundation has your current address and EIN on record. If you need to request a change, please click the Modify link, and you will be taken to a form to complete and send to the Foundation so we can update our records.
Mission of your organization
Please tell us the mission, or the fundamental purpose, of your organization within the region or community that you serve.
The contact person selected on the Application Overview portion of the application is the contact the Foundation will use to communicate with regarding the grant application. This contact should generally be the person most knowledgeable about the grant request and not necessarily the person that is completing the application. Please keep this in mind when selecting a contact person.
What is your organization’s total budget?
Please provide your organization’s most recent annual budget. If you have completed your next year’s planning and have the budget figures, please provide those; if you have not, your current budget is acceptable.
Can I select more than one Program Area?
No. You must select one Program Area in order to complete your application. Please visit the Foundation’s Program pages to obtain additional, more specific information about the particular projects funded by each Program Area. If you are a returning grantee, please select the Program Area that funded your previous grant, unless the work is substantially different. If the project you are requesting funding for could qualify for more than one Program Area, select the one that most closely matches the mission of your organization. If you are still unsure how your project fits, please call or email us for assistance. The Foundation assures that your request will be reviewed by the appropriate Program Director or Program Officer.
Duration of your request
The average grant at the Foundation is 12 months. However, we do accept grants for shorter or longer periods. Please request the number months relevant to your request.
Purpose of your request
Please briefly describe the specific purpose for which you will use the funding.
To support community empowerment and cultural development in ethnically and racially divided East Bay communities through the unification of art and activism.
What type of support should I request?
The types of support the Foundation provides are described above. For samples of purpose statements, outcomes and activities for different types of support, please see Sample Purpose Statements, Outcomes and Activities below.
What is your organization’s Project Budget?
Project budget refers to the approximate full amount of the project you are requesting funds for from the Foundation. If you are requesting Core Operating support, please provide the organization’s total budget amount.
Is this a new project or continuing support?
A new project is work that has not previously been funded by The San Francisco Foundation. Continuing support means you have received funding from the Foundation before.
The San Francisco Foundation asks targeted questions regarding your proposal instead of requesting a longer narrative piece. In this section, please provide brief responses to the following:
- Please provide a brief history of your organization, its staff and board, and how it serves vulnerable communities.
- Please describe the social justice focus of your work/project.
- Please describe the community need you are addressing and how your work (program/project) will advance progress in that area.
We strongly encourage that you use a word processing program to type your organization and project information. Save them to your personal computer, then copy and paste into the field provided online. This is to ensure you do not lose any important information.
Indicators of Success
Indicators refer to how an organization will measure success.
What is it that will indicate success? Be as specific as possible.
Evaluation is about the process an organization will undertake to evaluate its work. What is the process? How will you evaluate your work?
The Foundation wants to know what plans an organization might have, if any, to scale, replicate, and broaden its work. If these activities are not part of an organization’s plan, we want to know that too.
The Foundation recognizes that it is not necessary to hire outside experts to have a solid evaluation plan. If you do not have a formal evaluation plan, explain how you will know if you achieve the outcomes listed in your grant agreement and how this information will help guide your future work.
The three categories in this box are the same as those on the IRS Form 990, Part II, Statement of Functional Expenses. If you are using a fiscal sponsor, or are a city or university department, please estimate your project’s functional expenses. Do not report the functional expenses for the fiscal sponsor or for the entire city or university.
- Program Services include activities that result in services being provided to beneficiaries that fulfill the organization’s mission.
- Management and General includes oversight, business management, general record keeping, budgeting, financing, and related administrative activities, as well as management and administration except for direct conduct of program services or fundraising activities.
- Fundraising includes publicizing; conducting fundraising campaigns; maintaining donor mailing lists; conducting special fundraising events; preparing and distributing fundraising manuals, instructions, and other materials; and conducting other activities involved with soliciting contributions from individuals, foundations, government agencies, and others.
In this section, you will provide information about revenue, expenses, and your organization’s financial history and fundraising strategies.
Project Dates – Please enter the beginning date and the expected end date for your project.
Fiscal Year Dates – Please use the fiscal year dates that you intend to use to complete the Budget Table. If your organization is nearing the end of its current fiscal year and has next year’s budget complete, please use next year’s dates and budget information. If next year’s data is not available, please use the current year’s information.
Revenue Budget and Expenses – Please provide your organization’s budget, project budget, and proposed budget for TSFF dollars.
In the Budget Table, the top section is for revenue and the lower fields for expenses. If you have expenses that do not fit in the defined fields, please use the “Other” category and detail these expenses in the narrative box provided.
Previous Year Carry Over for the organization is also known as the previous year’s End of Year Net Assets.
Please provide a total in each category; you do not need to list individual foundations or government sources.
Committed funding includes those sources of support that have been confirmed.
Projected revenue includes sources of support that you are currently requesting or plan to request. Your request to The San Francisco Foundation is listed on a separate line.
If you are requesting core operating support, please only complete the Organization budget column.
Organization Financial History Table and Text
The Organization Financial History Table provides The Foundation with a summary of an applicant’s financial position. The data needed for the Organization Financial History Table is located in the IRS Form 990, Parts I and X, and in an Audit, in the Statement of Activities (aka Income Statement or Profit and Loss), and the Statement of Financial Position (aka Balance Sheet).
Financial Worksheet – Please give this downloadable Excel worksheet to your bookkeeper and/or accountant to help you complete the Table and provide The Foundation with explanations of any variances in annual data. Completion of the financial worksheet is required for submission of all proposals.
Video instructions for filling out the worksheet fields are available below:
Arts and Culture Applicants – If you are participating in the California Cultural Data Project, you can use the Organization Financial History on the last page of the funder report to assist you in filling in the Organization Financial History on the Budget Information section. Click here for more information.
Capital Investments – If your organization has capital investments, please record the actual end of year net assets, actual revenues and expenses, and the net year’s activity, even though these numbers will not tie together. Then use the text section to describe capital investments.
The fundraising plan should give a sense of how the organization expects to ensure that the project and/or organization will have the resources necessary to succeed in the proposed project/grant. Please briefly outline your plan to sustain your efforts over the next one to three years.
The number of staff in this section should correspond to the salary expense indicated in the expense budget. Full time personnel: Enter the number of full time staff. Part time personnel: Enter the full time equivalent for all part time personnel. For example, if you have 20 staff that work half time, enter 10.
Please provide the geographic areas that you plan to serve with your proposed grant. Multiple areas can be selected, although we ask that you provide the narrowest area possible. (Example: If your request is targeting San Francisco’s Mission District and Bayview Hunters Point, we would expect to see those two neighborhoods selected. However, if you plan to serve the entire city of San Francisco, we would like to see the City Category selected and San Francisco.)
Partners and Funders
The San Francisco Foundation may wish to contact your organization’s partners and funders as a reference for your work. Please provide contact information for any Partners, and at least two private funders and two government funders. If your organization does not have government funders, please list an additional private resource.
Please use the following Income Level Definitions table to fill out this section. Target income groups are those with household incomes at or below the specific levels identified in the table.
For organizations that do not collect income information from those served, please include an estimate of the income level of the majority of those to be served.
Income Level Definitions – Please download this PDF to view the 2011 Income Level Definitions.
Source: These income figures are derived from State Income Limits for 2011, which are based on calculations released by the State of California – Business, Transportation and Housing Agency.
Please provide the age range of the persons you plan to serve. You may select multiple categories in this section.
Target Service Population
Describe the people your project serves using the grid, when possible. If your organization tracks this data or can easily make approximations, include the information. We recognize that not all organizations can easily measure the benefit they provide to the community. In such situations, you may also use the field titled “Target Population Served” to provide additional information about who you serve.
If your project serves a special population, please fill in the Special Population table. Otherwise leave it blank. The total percentages for Special Populations may not be greater than 100%. Please use the “Target Population” box to specify groups served that are not listed here or if your populations overlap. Please use whole numbers without formatting when completing this table.
The San Francisco Foundation encourages its grantees to track racial/ethnicity diversity of its board and staff and the people it serves.
Statement on Diversity – The Foundation collects demographic information to help evaluate the Foundation’s impact on the greater Bay Area. We actively seek to promote access, equity, and diversity, and to end discrimination based on race, culture, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, disability, and age. The Foundation believes an organization’s impact is enhanced when people from different backgrounds and perspectives are engaged in an organization’s activities and decision-making process. In this spirit, applicants are asked to provide general diversity information about their board, staff, and constituency served. All demographic information is reviewed for alignment with the Foundation’s diversity policy. This policy is available here.
If your organization tracks the racial/ethnic diversity of those served, please fill out the grid provided. In the “Other” box, specify groups served that are not represented on this form.
Number of people served by project – Provide this information when applying for project support or capacity building. If applying for core support, leave this field blank.
Number of people served by organization – All applicants are asked to provide this information. Provide only information about numbers served directly by your organization in this section. If you serve other organizations, as well as individuals, describe this in the “Target Populations” section.
Number of people on staff – Provide information for all employees. Show part time employees as 0.5 for half time, 0.25 for quarter time, etc. Do not include consultants or other 1099 employees.
Number of people on the board of directors – If your organization does not have its own 501(c)(3), provide information on the individuals on your advisory board.
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Please upload all the attachments that are listed on the required documents page that are relevant to your organization. The Foundation only accepts documents that are uploaded through Grantee Center or faxed.
Please submit the most recent appropriate financial statement with your attachments.
Annual budgets less than $1,000,000
Submit a copy of most recently filed IRS Form 990.
Annual budgets $1,000,000 and over
Submit a recent (within two years) independent auditor’s report, referred to as a financial audit. An audit is a process for testing the accuracy and completeness of information presented in an organization’s financial statements. This testing process enables an independent CPA to issue what is referred to as an opinion on how fairly the agency’s financial statements represent its financial position and whether it complies with generally accepted accounting principles.
City Departments, University Departments, or Schools
You are not required to provide a copy of the audit for the entire city, university, or school district. Instead, please send the unaudited financial statements for the department or school.
Applicants with Fiscal Sponsors
The San Francisco Foundation requires applicants with fiscal sponsors submit a copy of the Fiscal Sponsor’s Audit. (All fiscal sponsors must have an audit.)
Letter of Resolution – The Foundation would like documentation indicating that the fiscal sponsor is aware that funds are being requested from TSFF. The letter should name The San Francisco Foundation and be signed by an Officer of the Fiscal Sponsor. Sample text: The [agency name], which is acting as the Fiscal Sponsor for [applicant name], authorizes the submission of a proposal in the amount of [x dollars] to The San Francisco Foundation.”
Please provide your organization’s financial statements for the last three years. This includes an income statement, balance sheet, and a cash flow statement. (These files must be consolidated into one file either by PDF, or they can be zipped into one file and uploaded.)
Arts and Culture Applicants
If you are participating in the California Cultural Data Project, please use the following instructions:
- Log in to your California CDP account from the California CDP homepage (http://www.caculturaldata.org/home.aspx)
- On “My CDP,” go to the “Funders Reports” section, select the current fiscal year, and click on “GO”. Click on the link for The San Francisco Foundation to generate the report.
- Review your Funder Report; if you need to make changes, call the California CDP Help Desk.
- Use the Organization Financial History on the last page of the funder report to assist you in filling in the Organization Financial History on the Budget Information section.
- Upload your Funder Report in the Financial History upload field.
If you have questions regarding this process, please contact Marta Martinez at 415.733.8508.
The Foundation asks that you provide a board list, with affiliations, with your application.
Please provide a list of key staff members and a brief biography.
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Sample Purpose Statements, Outcomes, and Activities
For your assistance, sample purpose statements, outcomes and activities for different types of support are included below.
Project Support – Example 1
To support outreach activities related to the Family Community Center’s Health Education Project.
- Positive reproductive health behaviors will increase, including safer sex practices and regular medical check-ups, to improve the health outcomes of 200 Latinas, their sexual partners and their families living in the Mission District.
- Recruit and train a total of ten peer mono/bilingual health educators each year.
- Reach a minimum of 100 women and their sexual partners each year through interactive and educational presentations.
- Conduct a minimum of 24 outreach activities each year at community events, health fairs, and other community settings.
Project Support – Example 2
To support an increase in tutor/student engagement and academic workshops in the High School’s Advancement Program.
- 100% of seniors served will graduate from high school and go to vocational training, community college, or a university.
- Provide an academic summer advancement program to 50 incoming ninth graders.
- Check students’ high school course enrollment to ensure that students are enrolled in college prep coursework and help parents learn how to advocate for students who are not enrolled in courses that will prepare them for college.
- Provide six tutoring and academic workshops during the school year.
- Offer targeted California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE) tutoring for students at risk of failing.
- Offer college counseling and SAT preparation during sophomore through senior years.
Capacity Building Support – Example 1
To support development and training activities related to Alameda Youth’s Leadership Program.
- A client tracking system will be implemented that monitors development along a seven-staged development model.
- Fifty low-income Asian immigrant women and youth in Alameda County will receive leadership development skills to allow them to take control of their new lives in the U.S.
- Hire a technology consultant to implement the client tracking system.
- Develop a working client database.
- Train staff on how to use the tracking system to better serve the training needs of clients.
- Share development model and data tool with other at least three other organizations offering similar services.
Capacity Building Support – Example 2
To support the planning process for the staff, board, and program development of Community Arts.
- A strategic plan for the organizational stabilization of this multidisciplinary arts organization will be implemented with annual goals established.
- Form focus groups, conduct one-on-one interviews, and create board committee(s) that will provide input for developing a strategic plan.
- Convene a community advisory group that will meet six times/year to assist in the planning process.
- Develop a time-line and implementation plan by mid-year.
Core Operating Support – Example 1
To support the core operating programs of Environment for All.
- The organization’s ability to directly challenge corporations to reduce their use of toxic chemicals will be expanded through education, litigation, and advocacy.
- Public education to communities at risk will be provided in the form of mailings, convenings and an online information campaign.
- Research the use of toxics and the health hazards they pose for consumers, workers, and communities to inform quarterly newsletter updates to coalition members and letters as needed to policymakers and other civic leaders.
- Identify feasible alternative practices to eliminate or minimize toxic exposures, and partner with industry to implement these alternative practices.
- Provide technical support to 15 local community groups working for environmental justice.
- Work with local and state government to draft public policies that support safer alternatives and enforce compliance with environmental laws through public interest litigation.
Core Operating Support – Example 2
To support the core operating programs of Shelter Care.
- 90% of participating homeless families will be placed in permanent housing within one year.
- Provide shelter and services to 700 battered women and/or children.
- Provide supportive services, including children’s services, to 75 project residents.
- Provide a 24-hour domestic violence crisis counseling line.