Each fall our Discovery, Inquiry and Guidelines (DIG) Committee meets to begin researching topics for the next grant cycle. Utilizing studies, news articles, and expert testimonials, they narrow the list to just four or five topics where our grant funds could have significant impact, always with an eye towards underserved communities, racial equity and gender justice.

We have a fall deadline for Letters of Inquiry (LOI), short written applications where organizations can declare the intent of their project without investing all of the time and resources required in a full proposals. After training, our members evaluate each LOI and determine which organizations will be invited to submit a full proposal.

In late October we invite organizations, selected by our members through the LOI stage, to begin working on full proposals. The proposal deadline is mid-December, and shortly after our members receive training and divide into teams to participate in proposal reviews.

Organizations selected for site visits welcome small teams of SDWF members to their organization for a short visit in the spring. That team decides whether or not to recommend each nonprofit move forward to the final stage in our grants process – the ballot.

Finalist organizations are listed on our ballot, and all SDWF members have an opportunity to vote. Organizations awarded funding become Community Partners and are asked to attend our Annual Grants Celebration in June.

Each Community Partner is assigned two impact liaisons – SDWF members who will touch base with the organization a few times over the course of the next few years to record the impact of our collaboration. Liaisons collect images and stories of impact from our community organization so that we can share their work across our communications channels and social media platforms.