Highlights from Meet the Funders
On June 7, 2022, Trudy Armstrong, Associate Vice President of Regional Outreach for The San Diego Foundation; Sharon Omahen, Executive Director of Coastal Community Foundation; and Chris Sichel, President & CEO of Rancho Santa Fe Foundation joined us for an engaging Meet the Funders presentation. They shared their organization’s funding priorities, application tips, and other insights to demystify the funding process. The event, which was held at Leichtag Commons in partnership with the North County Philanthropy Council, attracted 150+ nonprofit professionals. Sharyn Goodson, Vice President of Philanthropy for Leichtag Foundation facilitated. Below are session highlights.
Foundation Grant Programs
Coastal Community Foundation has several grant programs including the Mental Health Fund, Music Grants, Education Grants, Housing and Homeless Recovery Fund, and three giving circles (Hand to Hand, Encinitas Fund, Solana Beach Fund). Information may be found here. They are also administering the San Marcos COVID-19 Community Grants Program with Leichtag Foundation and Rancho Santa Fe Foundation.
Rancho Santa Fe Foundation is conducting listening tours to identify funding opportunities addressing pressing community needs. The Foundation will soon release new funding focus areas. In the meantime, grants are being made through the Patriots Connection, which aims to grow the capacity and sustainability of San Diego area nonprofit programs that serve active-duty military and veterans. The Rancho Santa Fe Women’s Fund awards grants in specific focus areas and announces the grant recipients in May of each year.
The San Diego Foundation offers competitive grant cycles aligned with its Strategic Plan priorities. Core impact areas include Children and Families, Environment, Education, Racial & Social Justice, Senior Well-Being, Workforce Development, and Crisis Philanthropy. Regional affiliate members leverage their fees as charitable funds for grants making. Affiliates include 4S Ranch/Del Sur, Carlsbad, Escondido, Oceanside, Ramona, Rancho Bernardo, La Jolla, and Chula Vista. San Diego Foundation is also administering the Escondido Nonprofit Relief Fund for COVID-related needs. The San Diego Women’s Foundation, a giving circle, offers annual funding opportunities.
Tips for Successful Applications
- Ask questions of program staff before applying.
- Request the funding you need and explain why, including rising costs of doing business.
- Use clear, specific language so that your project’s potential impact can be easily understood.
- Be sure your narrative matches your budget and that your budget includes narrative detail.
- Explain budget deficits and reserves.
- List direct contact details on your website and respond promptly to inquiries.
- Update GuideStar profiles as more donors are conducting independent research.
- Post current 990s and audit reports on your website without passwords for transparency.
Preferred Ways for Foundations to Learn about Nonprofits
- Receive regular communications (not solicitations) from nonprofits that provide clear information on needs, nonprofit responses, and outcomes. Annual reports and newsletters are welcome.
- Build relationships with foundation staff that are not rooted in expectations for funds.
- Ask for a meeting to share community concerns and your work. Invite nonprofits doing similar work to join you.
Ways Foundations Support Nonprofits – Aside from Funding
- Accept cryptocurrency, stocks, real estate, and other property.
- Planned giving support.
- Sample nonprofit operating policies.
- Capacity building programs.