COllaborations that Scale
Nonprofits come in all shapes and sizes.
Full Circle Fund's model encompasses a variety of partnership types and customized work engagements.
Our Member teams have worked hand-in-hand to fund new and existing ventures, incubate ideas, and scale organizational systems and processes.
WAYS TO ENGAGE
“The main point of this relationship is not funding, but connecting into this network and accessing the community and their skills.”
—insights from interviews with multiple Alumni Grant Partners in 2019
Tech Accelerator Funds
Mature tech-driven nonprofits are matched with Bay Area tech leaders.
UP TO 6 PARTNERS ANNUALLY
Nonprofits from all stages are matched with cross-sector Bay Area professionals in 4 issue areas.
Up to 8 Partners Annually
In 2020, we will have one Grant Cycle and Tech Accelerator Fund (May-Sept) partnering with 7-10 Bay Area nonprofits per cycle. What does partnership mean?
Skills-based volunteer support: 4 months dedicated pro bono support from a team of 6-10 volunteers on a high-priority project you are seeking external expertise and skills to design, develop, or implement
Unrestricted funding: $15,000 one-time general operating grant
Ongoing connections to the Full Circle Fund community as an alumni grant partner with benefits such as identification of new board members, consultants, staff, donors, and volunteer “champions;” new professional expertise, leadership development, and skills for staff; new relationships with social sector peers; follow-on funding and funder-ready deliverables; new data and measurement tools.
Project areas include, but are not limited to business development and fundraising, marketing and communications, metrics and evaluation, technical product management, program development, sales and pricing, scaling infrastructure, digital transformation, strategic planning. You can learn about past projects our Members and Grant Partners have worked on together here:
Our Selection Process
Although we do not accept unsolicited proposals, we have a month-long open call for applications 1-2 times per year. We trust nonprofit colleagues interested in partnership to carefully review the criteria, guiding principles, and FAQs and make an informed and intentional decision to submit a form for consideration for partnership.
Feb - Outreach: We find organizations through referrals from Members, nonprofit partners, strategic partners, and peer funders, our own research, email inquiries, and an open call. Organizations that meet our criteria below are invited to submit an application by Monday, March 2, 2020, 5pm.
Mar - Due Diligence: Advisory boards comprised of FCF staff, Members, and Alumni Grant Partners review applications to determine if Full Circle Fund is a good fit to warrant asking for an organization’s time. We schedule calls with the organization’s leadership (specifically the CEO/Executive Director and the Project Lead) to explore opportunities to partner on a project. We examine the organization’s model, long-term strategy, leadership, impact, and willingness to work with an engaged funder and team of skilled volunteers. Due diligence does not guarantee funding. Nonprofits at this stage will be notified of their status by Wednesday, April 1.
Apr - Member Consideration: After extensive due diligence and discussion, the advisory boards vote for finalist Grant Partners for each of our four issue areas—Economic Opportunity, Education, Environment & Energy, Health—and the Tech Accelerator. We share the due diligence with our Members who then have an opportunity to meet the prospective Grant Partners before voting for projects. Nonprofits at this stage will be notified of their status by Friday, May 1.
May-Sept - Grant Partnership: The 7-10 Grant Partners are announced in early May followed by a mandatory Grant Partner Orientation. In May, we work with Grant Partners to fully scope their projects, and from late May through mid September, Grant Partners work with our teams of skilled volunteers.
Guiding Principles for FCF Grant Partnerships
Our most successful FCF engagements have this in common:
Growth Potential: They have strong leadership and successful programs that meet a timely and critical need and have identified capacity building as a strategic priority. They are at an inflection point to build their organizational foundation for greater impact.
Impact Potential: They have the potential to make an impact in addressing one or more of our four issue areas—economic opportunity, education, environment, health—in the Bay Area. They are also committed to performance and outcomes measurement, whether well-developed or planned, and have an organizational culture of measuring success.
Committed Leadership: They have leaders with a deep desire and ability to guide their organizations in achieving significant growth and impact. These leaders seek thought partners, welcome FCF Member expertise, and can commit the energy and resources needed to collaborate successfully
Organizational Vision and Strategy: They have a current strategic plan, a theory of change, or an organizational roadmap. Tech nonprofits also have a technical roadmap for a live tech product or service projecting at least 6-12 months.
Proposed Projects: They have plans for defined, high-priority project(s) their organization would like to work on in the next 6 months that would be enhanced or accelerated by our skilled volunteers. In other words, “This is a high-priority project we need to do anyway, and having Full Circle Fund’s support would make it possible or accelerate its progress.”
Frequently Asked Questions
Can past FCF Grant Partners apply for consideration for 2020 partnership?
We are not based in the Bay Area. Can we still apply?
We have a strong preference for Bay Area organizations. If you don’t have an office in the Bay Area, you must have senior staff in the Bay Area that can meet in person with our Members in San Francisco. Your organization’s work must at least in part be currently serving Bay Area communities.
What types of nonprofits do you support? Do you work with startups?
We support organizations that are at a stage of growth where they have at least 3 full-time staff, ideally 6-8. We’ve heard from earlier stage nonprofits that this program doesn’t serve them as well. During the project, volunteers and nonprofit leaders are in touch regularly. Nonprofits at an earlier stage of growth usually have a tough time committing a key staff person for the time it takes to advance an active project.
What are your funding priorities?
We support nonprofits that address one or more of the following issue areas—economic opportunity, education, environment and energy, health—and tech nonprofits addressing any issue area. We define tech nonprofits as organizations building original hardware or software that use a nonprofit business model to scale social impact.
Do you have any restrictions/requirements on org budget, staffing, or years in operation?
There are no restrictions or thresholds on organizational budget and years in operation. Our only requirement is that you have 3 full-time staff, one of whom is a senior leader based in the Bay Area that can be the project lead and point of contact for the duration of the project (4-6 months).
What is the time commitment? What events are Grant Partners required to attend?
The time commitment is approximately 3-4 calls per month and 1-2 in-person meetings per month for 4-6 months. In-person events are currently in San Francisco on weekday evenings, and we expect the project lead to attend all sessions for consistency and team-building.
These dates do not include calls or meetings that you and your Member project teams schedule in-between Work Sessions.
What is expected of Grant Partners?
Participation in project scoping calls with FCF staff and Member Team Leads
Access to the information, systems, staff, and time resources needed to produce great results for your organization and beneficiaries
Attendance at these events: Member Meet-and-Greet, Grant Partner Orientation, and three Work Sessions (events are 2 hours on a Tues/Wed/Thurs evening in San Francisco)
Completion of post-event surveys (each takes no more than 15 mins)
Participation in a midterm check-in call (30-45 mins)
Submission of a pre-Grant Partnership survey and a final grant report, so we can measure our impact and improve the Grant Partner experience (each should take no more than 1 hour)
How much experience with nonprofits do your members have? What training do they get?
70% of our Members are from the private sector—some have volunteer/board experience and others are new to the nonprofit sector—and all care about social impact and want to use their professional skills to support nonprofits and learn about local issues with a community of peers.
We meet 1:1 with all Members prior to them officially joining FCF, so we can gauge whether they’d be a good fit for our program. Members attend an orientation on how they can apply their skills to the nonprofit sector and a workshop on power and privilege, so they enter the Grant Partnerships with an understanding of power dynamics and how to be a better partner to nonprofits.
How does FCF staff support the Grant Partners and Members?
Each project team is co-led by a senior leader representing the Grant Partner and a Member Team Lead. Our Team Leads have experience with project management and/or prior FCF project team experience. All Circles have Co-Chairs with FCF project team experience who act as coaches and peer advisors. We work closely with Grant Partners and Team Leads to scope projects before Work Session 1, and they are on-site at the Work Sessions facilitating as needed. We also schedule check-in calls with Grant Partners and Team Leads to debrief Work Sessions and provide resources and support. We’re available anytime via email or phone call.
These are based on what we’ve learned from hundreds of partnerships with local nonprofits over the past 20 years and what we’ve heard works best directly from the nonprofit leaders who have participated.
Nonprofit Status: Has 501(c)(3) status or a fiscal sponsor with 501(c)(3) status.
Geography: Operates within one or more of the following counties in the San Francisco Bay Area: Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara. Organizations outside of the Bay Area may apply if they have staff in the Bay Area and serve one or more of these counties.
Given where our members work/live, we have primarily partnered with nonprofits in San Francisco, East Bay, and Peninsula. We hope to support more nonprofits outside these areas as our membership grows.
Issue Area: Addresses one or more of the following issue areas—economic opportunity, education, environment and energy, health—or is a tech nonprofit addressing any issue area. We define tech nonprofits as organizations building original hardware or software that use a nonprofit business model to scale social impact.
Representative Leadership: Has senior leadership that reflects the demographics of the communities it serves.
Staff Capacity: Has at least 3 full-time staff, including a senior leader based in the Bay Area that can be the project lead and point of contact for the duration of the project (4-6 months) and attend in-person events in San Francisco. We’ve learned that nonprofits with fewer than 3 staff cannot usually commit a key staff member to scope and advance the project.
Commitment of Time and Resources:
Although we give an unrestricted grant, it’s intended to cover the costs incurred for the time commitment of your staff during the grant partnership. The time commitment is approximately 3-4 calls per month and 1-2 in-person meetings per month for 4-6 months.
In-person events are currently in San Francisco on weekday evenings, and we expect the project lead to attend all sessions for consistency and team-building.
The organization must provide access to information, systems, staff, and time resources needed to produce great results for your organization and beneficiaries.
Proposed Projects: Have plans for defined, high-priority project(s) their organization would like to work on in the next 6 months that would be enhanced or accelerated by our skilled volunteers. In other words, “This is a high-priority project we need to do anyway, and having Full Circle Fund’s support would make it possible or accelerate its progress.” Take a look at our members, grant partners, and examples of the types of projects they’ve worked on, and be clear about whether this is the best time in your organization’s life cycle, or with your current capacity, before you submit an interest form.
What We Don’t Fund
Activities to elect specific candidates for public office
Direct support of individuals
Hospitals and clinics
Individual or volunteer-run initiatives
Private schools, colleges, or universities
Ready to APPLY?
Applications closed until further notice due to COVID-19
We have several goals for our Full Circle Fund partnership but the biggest is understanding how to pitch and structure deals with companies that want our technology. Member Jon Relyea taught us how to begin getting value out of partnerships even before they're signed.
Gavin McCormick, Co-founder Watttime