Apply for a Grant

Register now for Grantee Center, our interactive resource for applicants and grantees. From Grantee Center you can apply for a grant, view your current and past applications, submit reports, view the latest information about grant opportunities, and more.

You can register or log in from the top navigation of every page of our website.

Learn How to Apply

You can find a list of our 2014 grantmaking programs and deadlines on the Timelines at a Glance page. We also encourage you to sign up for our newsletter here and select “Grant Application News” in your interests to receive announcements.

There are three ways to apply for grants:

Invitation Only
This requires a solicitation from TSFF staff.

Open Application Cycle
This is the Foundation’s annual open call for applications. Please note that we are dedicating 2014 Open Application funding to our 2013 Open Application grantees. Read more here.

Special Projects and Initiatives
The Foundation offers a variety of targeted grantmaking programs throughout the year. These are narrowly tailored to promote change around a particular issue or geographic area. Check out Timelines at a Glance for a list of this year’s programs.

Occasionally, we also accept proposals for time-sensitive programs that fit one our Program Areas’ strategic goals. If you think this applies to you, please contact a Program Officer before submitting an application.

Diversity Policy

The Foundation has a strong conviction that diversity benefits everyone and is not only compatible with but also promotes excellence. The San Francisco Foundation grantmaking policy reflects a belief that organizational performance is greatly enhanced when people with different backgrounds and perspectives are engaged in an organization’s activities and decision-making process. The full text of the policy is available on our Diversity page.


The Foundation welcomes applications from organizations that meet the criteria below. If you have additional questions, please read the Grantseeker FAQ.

2015 Open Application Grant Cycle
Our 2015 cycle will open on January 2, 2015. More will be announced shortly.

Timely submission
Application forms must be submitted via the Grantee Center by 11:59 p.m. PST on the deadline date. Support will be available from Foundation staff until 2:00 p.m. on the deadline date. Due to the large number of applications we receive, late applications will not be accepted. Please see the Timelines at a Glance page for exact dates.

Valid tax-exempt status
The Foundation makes grants to organizations that are exempt under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code and are classified as “not a private foundation” under Section 509(a). We also make grants to government and public agencies, as well as to independent projects that have a qualified tax-exempt fiscal sponsor.

Region Served
Projects must substantially benefit residents in at least one of the five Bay Area counties we serve: Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, and San Mateo. If your organization is based outside these five counties, the total number of local constituents benefiting from service must be competitive with local organizations.

Overlapping grants
We do not award multiple or overlapping grants to the same organization through the Open Application Grant Cycle, except in rare circumstances. For the purpose of this policy, city or county departments or programs at a university are considered to be separate entities. This policy does not apply to grants offered through special initiatives or mini-grant programs. Please consult with Program staff before submitting an application for an overlapping grant. Projects sharing a fiscal sponsor may apply concurrently.

Note on continuing support: We will accept an application from an organization with an open grant, provided that the scheduled start date for the new grant will be after the close of the current grant.

Three-year time limit
Grantees are eligible to receive funds from The San Francisco Foundation for consecutive periods of up to three years. After three years, grantees will be required to wait a period of 12 months before receiving funding. Grants offered through special initiatives, mini-grant programs, or RFPs do not count toward the time limit. Exceptions to this policy will be made under certain circumstances. Requests for exceptions should be directed to Program Officers who will consider and make a decision in consultation with the Director of Programs.

Three years of consecutive funding is defined as:

  • three 12-month grants awarded in three consecutive Foundation fiscal years, regardless of grant start and end dates;
  • a combination of a 12-month and a 24-month grant awarded within in three consecutive Foundation fiscal years, regardless of grant start and end dates;
  • one 36-month grant.

Due to the revised grantmaking goals and objectives implemented in 2010, The San Francisco Foundation waived its concurrent and three-year time limit restrictions for eligibility, allowing all grantees to restart their time limit terms. Therefore if your organization was funded in 2010-11 and 2011-12, an approved grant in 2012-13 will constitute a third year of funding.

Audit requirement
The Foundation requires that any applicant with an annual budget of $1,000,000 or more provide audited financial statements. Organizations with annual budgets less than $1,000,000 are required to provide a copy of the most recently filed IRS Form 990.

Waivers to this policy are occasionally granted. If your project is fiscally sponsored, the fiscal sponsor must meet the audit requirement. No waivers to this policy will be granted to sponsoring organizations.

Financial Worksheet for Organization Financial History Table

We recommend that you give the Financial Worksheet to your accounting or bookkeeping professional to complete as soon as possible. Once the worksheet is complete, transfer the numbers from the Financial Worksheet to the Organization Financial History Table. You can download the Financial Worksheet here.

Watch this video to learn more about filling out the Financial Worksheet.

This video explains how to fill out the Financial History Comments.

2015 Open Application Deadline

To find out more about grant cycles that are currently open, and deadlines to apply by, please visit Timelines at a Glance.