What We Fund

The San Francisco Foundation offers three main types of support:

Project Support: These grants are 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: This type of support is 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: This type of support is 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 nonsectarian activities)

• Direct assistance to individuals

• Conferences or one-time events

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

Special Projects and Initiatives’ Applications

The San Francisco Foundation has a variety of special projects and initiatives that may open up applications at different times of the year. These grantmaking efforts are narrowly tailored to promote change around a particular issue or geographic area. Applications are released and publicized periodically through our website and through targeted communications. We encourage all interested organizations to visit our website periodically for latest updates.

The Foundation occasionally invites off-cycle grant applications from organizations with time-sensitive projects and whose programs are a close fit with our Program Areas’ strategic goals. If you have a time-sensitive request, please contact the appropriate Program Officer before submitting an application.