The San Francisco Foundation welcomes unsolicited applications in five program areas for the Open Application Responsive grant program once a year.
In 2013-2014, we are dedicating Open Application funding to grantees who were awarded grants in last year’s 2012-2013 Open Application Grant Cycle. Only 2012-2013 Open Application grantees are eligible to apply for a renewal grant. The 2014-2015 Open Application Grant Cycle will be open to both new and existing grantees.
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.
2013-2014 Renewal Application Grant Cycle
In 2013-2014, we are dedicating Open Application funding to grantees who were awarded grants in last year’s 2012-2013 Open Application Grant Cycle. Organizations that received a 2012-2013 Open Application Cycle Grant are eligible to apply for renewal funding for 2013-2014. Log in to Grantee Center and then visit the My Grants tab. If your grant includes any of the following names, you are eligible:
- 2012-2013 Open Cycle – Arts and Culture
- 2012-2013 Open Cycle – Community Development
- 2012-2013 Open Cycle – Education
- 2012-2013 Open Cycle – Community Health
- 2012-2013 Open Cycle – Environment
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. Organizations eligible to apply for the 2013-2014 Renewal Application Grant Cycle should apply for the amount they received in 2012-2013; TSFF will evaluate applications and may choose to change funding amounts at its discretion.
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 “email@example.com” 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 welcomes your questions. 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.