The Ground Game

Vanitha Venugopal

Last week’s election was a powerful reminder that it’s not just the money, it’s the ground game that makes the difference.

Yesterday we welcomed dozens of nonprofit visionaries – grant applicants – to our How to Apply Workshops.  These workshops provide nonprofits in our region with information on the guidelines and process of applying online for a San Francisco Foundation grant.

Some of the questions at the workshop brought into focus the importance of a ground game. And for us this translates into a clear imperative: Don’t lead with the money. Focus on the idea, articulate the vision, and build community support for it, for that will make the impact. The money will follow.

At The San Francisco Foundation we take a holistic approach to philanthropy. We believe that we need to push on several fronts to forge real change. We build an ecosystem of grantees that collectively create a greater impact than any one of them could do alone.

Our grantmaking supports research and polling, technical assistance, communications, community organizing, direct services, and advocacy. We believe these are all essential to making change that is lasting and meaningful.

Philanthropy should take a page from the Obama playbook: Don’t lead with the money, embrace diversity, and have a strong ground game.