Amounts Funded and Length of Grant Terms

Each year the Sonora Area Foundation and its supporting organizations establish a competitive grant budget. The grant listings on this web site offer details about the size and range of grants made. The Foundation takes seriously its role as a resource for all of Tuolumne County in considering funding proposals, and intends that this funding is used as widely as possible in our community.

We accept multi-year grant proposals; however, we generally require that specific criteria be met before funding is granted beyond the first year.

The Foundation seeks opportunities to stretch its funding impact by making grants which will work in combination with other funds. This might involve requiring an applicant to provide matching funds from other sources. In addition, the Foundation may choose to make a challenge grant, where additional funds must be secured before Foundation monies are released.

Funding Priorities

The Foundation provides funding in these primary interest areas: human services; education; arts/culture/humanities; health; public/society benefit; and, environment/animals. In each category we favor:

  • Projects that respond to challenges facing county residents and propose realistic and significant impact;
  • Applicants who work in collaboration with other community organizations;
  • Projects that include funds from other sources to be used in conjunction with those proposed from the Foundation;
  • Projects that feature active involvement of participants in designing and implementing approaches to overcome challenges, whereby participants develop a sense of ownership for what is proposed;
  • Organizations that give strong evidence of community support for what they propose (this might be reflected by involvement of program participants, volunteers willing to support the effort, endorsement by community leaders, participation by other organizations, or favorable media coverage of the applicant organization, etc.);
  • Applicants who propose ways to sustain future program efforts, and reflect this in their funding proposals.

Foundation representatives believe that the most effective funding proposal represents the written version of an organization’s mission. We will look for evidence of careful planning in the proposals you submit.

Eligible Applicants

To be eligible for funding consideration, an applicant must be:

  • A nonprofit organization with tax-exempt status from the Internal Revenue Service, and not classified as a private foundation. Such an organization must be primarily serving Tuolumne County residents, or;
  • A public sector entity or unit of government primarily serving Tuolumne County residents, and;
  • Nondiscriminatory in the hiring of staff or provision of services on the basis of race, national origin, gender, marital status, age, religious beliefs, or disability.

If an informal association, community group or collaborative seeks funding, it must do so through an eligible lead organization with which it has a working relationship and/or memo of understanding; that is, a “fiscal sponsor.”

Limitations

Unless so designated by a donor in the instrument of gift to the Foundation, and approved by the Board, the Foundation will generally not consider grants for the following:

  • Annual fund-raising campaigns
  • Creation or additions to endowments
  • Existing financial obligations, or replenishing resources to pay such debt
  • Private foundations
  • Political purposes
  • Sectarian purposes
  • Programs or services for other than Tuolumne County residents

Competitive Grants

Sonora Area Foundation considers several types of competitive grant requests. They share a common focus on the quality of life in Tuolumne County.

Pilot or Demonstration Project

Intended to promote creativity, such a project is based on the concept of setting up, testing and evaluating a model approach to dealing with challenges found in the community. A proposal must include a carefully developed evaluation plan, as well as the means by which to disseminate the results and lessons learned.

New or Expanded Program

Proposed programs should be based on challenges or needs within Tuolumne County. Proposals should describe solutions and such means to accomplish them. Foundation representatives will look for evidence of participation by those for whom the proposed program is intended to benefit.

Capacity Building

Proposals of this type must concentrate on strengthening an applicant organization’s ability to achieve its mission or purposes. This might involve upgrading board or staff skills, including those used to develop strategic planning, human and financial resource development, and increasing organizational movement toward financial independence. Such a proposal should include evidence of the applicant’s work to build capacity prior to approaching the Foundation for funding.

Foundation-Initiated Grant Programs

Sonora Area Foundation uses several strategies to undertake grant making in addition to responding to proposals submitted from eligible applicants.

Emergency/Rapid Response

A limited budget exists to respond immediately to requests for emergency grants not to exceed $1,000. Emergencies are defined as unforeseeable events that adversely impact an organization’s ability to fulfill its mission.

Donor-Advised Grants

Foundation assets include funds from a variety of sources. At times, donors are actively involved in the grant making process, and Foundation representatives work to facilitate their suggestions for grants.

Board-Initiated Grants

The Foundation’s board periodically initiates grants based on members’ awareness of community needs.

Elaine Symons Baker Annual Award For Community Impact

The Foundation makes this grant for support of organizations with exceptional programs.

Irving J. Symons Annual Award

The Foundation makes this grant for support of exceptional programs and services.

Periodic Requests For Proposals (RFP’s)

The Sonora Area Foundation may issue RFP’s inviting participation to seek grants focusing on broadly understood and shared perspectives about issues confronting the community.

How to Apply for a Grant from the Sonora Area Foundation

Sonora Area Foundation uses several strategies to undertake grant making in addition to responding to proposals submitted from eligible applicants.

Guidelines can be obtained:

  • by calling the Foundation office at (209) 533-2596;
  • or, from our web site, www.sonora-area.org;
  • or, from our offices located at 362 South Stewart Street, Sonora, CA 95370;
  • or, writing to the Foundation office at the address above.

Application Due Dates

The Sonora Area Foundation Board of Directors reviews grant applications at their scheduled Board meetings (usually the fourth Tuesday) in February, April, June, August, October and December.

Applications are due at the Foundation office by the end of the month preceding these Board meetings.

Application Guidelines

WE DO NOT HAVE A GRANT-APPLICATION FORM FOR YOU TO FILL OUT. Instead, please submit a grant-application letter as outlined below:

GRANT-APPLICATION LETTER

Application letter requirements:

  • Use your organization’s letterhead
  • No more than two pages
  • Use a 12-point font
  • Use paperclips only (no staples, binders or folders)
  • Submit one copy only
  • Include contact information (name, title, agency, phone, email and fax)
  • Follow the guidelines in “Application letter format and content” below
  • Include the attachments listed in either section A or B below (as applicable)

Application letter format and content:

In paragraph one, clearly and concisely state:

  • The amount of funding you are requesting from the Sonora Area Foundation; and
  • What you want to do with the funding.

The remaining paragraphs should make a case for your proposal by furnishing the following information:

  • Describe the quality and integrity of your organization, showing evidence of community support & documenting accomplishments consistent with its mission.
  • Define the rationale for funding: explain how your proposal will impact the quality of life of the people for whom your organization exists.
  • Describe your plan of action: sequence of activities; resources needed to carry them out, including project management; and a time frame to accomplish the project.
  • Describe other sources of funding that have been pursued or secured (cash or in-kind) for use in this project that will leverage funds requested from Sonora Area Foundation.
  • Describe how you will sustain the project: What resources will support this project in the future? Be as specific as possible.
  • Describe how you will evaluate your project and how you will verify whether your goals have been accomplished, including who will carry out evaluation activities.

A. If your organization has tax-exempt status or is a governmental entity, include the following as attachments:

  • Project budget
  • Mission statement
  • Copy of IRS Letter of Determination – 501(c)(3), if applicable
  • Roster of applicant’s governing body, including name, address, vocation and length of time served for each member
  • Most recent annual report/brochure (if available)
  • Resolution of governing Board or copy of Board minutes indicating grant approval for submission, or if not feasible, a letter from the Chief Executive Officer
  • References/Memorandums of Understanding from collaborating organizations (if applicable)
  • Current organization budget (unless a governmental entity)
  • Most recent, complete, audited financial statement, if available (unless a governmental entity)
  • 990 tax return (most recent filed)

B. If your organization does not have tax-exempt status or is not a governmental entity, another organization must serve as a fiscal sponsor. A cooperative relationship between both organizations must be clearly demonstrated. Include the following attachments from the fiscal sponsor:

  • A letter indicating the fiscal sponsor’s willingness to administer the grant if awarded
  • Copy of IRS Letter of Determination – 501(c)(3), if applicable
  • Roster of fiscal sponsor’s governing body, including name, address, vocation and length of time served for each member
  • Resolution of governing Board or copy of Board minutes indicating approval for grant submission, or if not feasible, a letter from the Chief Executive Officer
  • Current organization budget (unless a governmental entity)
  • Most recent, complete, audited financial statement, if available (unless a governmental entity)
  • 990 tax return (most recent filed)

Review Process

Upon receiving your letter and attachments, Foundation staff will review the materials and may contact you for additional information. A site visit may be requested, particularly if you are a new applicant. We will try to complete the review process within 60 days; however, please keep in mind that the letter is only the first step in the process.

When the review process is complete, Foundation staff will submit your proposal for the Board meeting. The Board of Directors makes all final decisions. Foundation staff will inform you of the Board’s decision.

If approved, Foundation staff will send a notification letter along with the Terms of Grant for funding. The Foundation will require evaluation reports as will be described in the notification letter. Evaluation site visits may also be required.

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