Reflecting on 15 years of General Operating Support Grantmaking

A new report released by the Sobrato Family Foundation examines the impact and implications of $55 million in general operating support (GOS) grants that the Foundation has awarded over ten years to 187 organizations across the region.

Funders and nonprofits have acknowledged the importance of GOS for decades, yet GOS grants consistently account for a relatively small proportion of overall giving. Considered a leader in GOS by both funders and grantees, the Sobrato Family Foundation was early to adopt general operating support as a core component of the Foundation’s philanthropic strategy and is now in the relatively unique position of having a robust test period over which to evaluate the impact and potential of general operating support on the recipient organizations and on the region’s nonprofit community as a whole.

 

While the Foundation’s approach to grantmaking has evolved over the years in response to local needs, its GOS grantmaking has stayed consistent. Sobrato’s desire to support nonprofits that serve the most marginalized and underserved populations led to its identification of flexible funding as a key need of these organizations. The Foundation’s GOS grantmaking strategy focuses on safety net services for low-income communities.

 

This report reinforces the notion that GOS grants help fund critical internal organizational needs, while also introducing the idea that providing unrestricted funding promotes candid conversations between nonprofits and funders about the real cost of managing projects and providing services. The report has many broad implications for the nonprofit sector as a whole, and demonstrates that through multi-year GOS grants, funders can effectively foster the well-being and growth of the nonprofit sector as a whole.

Click here to download the full report.

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