Grantmaking Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
The California Community Foundation seeks to change systems and strengthen L.A.’s nonprofit sector through strategic grantmaking, convening and collaboration. To achieve this goal, we have pledged to grant $1 billion to Los Angeles County nonprofit organizations by 2025. Below are the answers to frequently asked questions about our grantmaking strategy and process. If you have further questions, contact us at info [@] calfund [.] org.
- 1. What is CCF’s grantmaking strategy?
CCF champions issues that impact residents that are struggling, allowing us to help those who need it the most and lift up the entire community. Our discretionary grantmaking is focused on the following areas:
Our priority areas are informed by past and current donor passions and interests. For example, our Education strategies reflect earlier donor contributions in early education. Community foundations, unlike private foundations, reflect years (in our case, a century) of donor intent. Within each priority area, there are specific funding strategies, such as BLOOM (Building a Lifetime of Options and Opportunities for Men) and the Los Angeles Scholars Investment Fund (LASIF).
For more specific info on each of our priority areas, visit our Nonprofits page.
- 2. If I am a new applicant to CCF, how should my organization initiate a relationship?
Our website outlines our mission, vision and priority grantmaking areas. If you feel your organization aligns with our objectives, contact the appropriate program officer to arrange a phone meeting to discuss your organization and programs. Please do not submit a letter of intent (LOI) without first having a conversation with a program officer, who can help determine if your organization is a fit with CCF’s strategies and shape your approach.
- 3. What is the vetting process applicants go through to acquire a grant? How competitive is the application process for grants?
The LOI and application process for discretionary grants is competitive, with the volume exceeding available funds. We first make sure there is alignment with our program and initiative strategy and that the organization is engaged in systemic change through civic engagement and public policy. We strive to be rigorous, impartial and objective in our analysis of grant applications, and use the following criteria:
- Demonstrated impact of programs and services;
- Ability to advance program or initiative strategy;
- Sound strategic plan; experienced and effective leadership and management;
- Engaged and committed board; and
- Established financial position, systems and/or leadership.
Grantmaking staff will evaluate applications on the merits of each request, fit within our guidelines and available funds.
- 4. Do you fund multi-year grants?
We have always given multi-year grants. Our typical core operating grant is two years. CCF has shifted away from fixed grant cycles (e.g., a two-year grant, renewable for up to two times). Organizations receiving new support may receive grants in different increments and cycles, including longer term grants (e.g. three-year term), if appropriate. Core operating grants continue to be an important tool for CCF in improving the quality of life of Los Angeles residents.
- 5. Can you apply for grants in multiple areas? If my organization bridges multiple focus areas, how should I determine where to apply?
We ask applicants to limit their inquiry to one priority area or initiative. If your work covers multiple priority areas, please identify the one area where your feel your organization’s work is strongest. You may mention other areas in your LOI; however, that will not necessarily generate additional consideration.
- 6. What size organizations do you fund?
We fund a broad range of community-based agencies, from organizations with $25,000 in annual revenue to organizations like affordable housing providers and hospitals with more than $10 million in annual revenue. There are no set limits on budgets.
- 7. If my organization is not physically located in Los Angeles County, but serves residents of the county, could it still be funded by CCF?
Yes, but CCF prioritizes organizations with an office in Los Angeles County. While we have funded advocacy organizations that served L.A. County, but are primarily headquartered in Sacramento and D.C., we have found that local community issues have a better chance of being addressed long term by those who are deeply embedded in the local community.
- 8. How does CCF plan to reach its $1 billion pledge?
Over the coming decade, CCF will pursue discretionary grantmaking strategies as noted in question one. We look forward to partnering with community-based organizations that are generating impact and systemic change for vulnerable communities. We were able to invest $700 million over the prior decade. Our ability to meet our $1 billion goal will mean we will need to bring new funds to Los Angeles from new sources—national funders, new individual donors, local and state foundations. L.A. County has abundant and deep needs. We hope our commitment will help to address them.