General Operating Support [GOS] Cash Grants


Silicon Valley’s thriving technology industry shares a home with communities struggling to bridge the opportunity gap. The Sobrato Family Foundation is addressing root causes of this economic divide through our education and career pathways grantmaking, but—for more than 10 years—has provided flexible support to hundreds of nonprofits that promote self-reliance and economic independence in this increasingly divided community.


SFF’s community-mainstay general operating support program grants much-needed funds to a range of organizations that positively contribute to the quality of life for economically, physically and/or emotionally challenged individuals in our region.


Eligibility Criteria


After filling out the eligibility questionnaire, organizations are invited to apply to the appropriate GOS grant cycle. The eligibility criteria are as follows:


Program Area


Independent 501(c)(3) organizations must fall into the following program areas and may apply during one of our four cycles, provided with approximate application dates to anticipate.

  • Human Services and Food Programs – February 2018
  • Health or Legal Services – July 2018
  • Housing or Employment / Financial Sufficiency Programs;
    Nonprofit Capacity Building Programs – February 2019
  • Youth Development and Education – July 2019

Geographic Area

50% of the agency’s clients must be in Silicon Valley, California; which SFF views as encompassing Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties, and the southern region of Alameda County.


Community Served

An applicant’s clients must be economically challenged.


Tax status

An applicant must be an independent 501(c)(3) organization. The GOS program does not accept applications from those organizations with fiscal sponsors.



Applicants must demonstrate that they have raised a minimum of $300,000 in private cash contributions from donors in Silicon Valley, during the most recent fiscal year.


Ineligible Activities

Organizations with over 50% of their programs in mental health, the environment, or the arts are specifically ineligible.


We also do not support the following activities:

  • Fundraising events or endowment campaigns
  • School-managed clubs or individual schools (except by invitation only)
  • Medical research or specific diseases
  • Projects created or operated by public government agencies or departments
  • Public libraries or their foundations
  • Type III Supporting Organizations unless “functionally integrated”

Our list of current GOS grantees provides an overview of the types of organizations and amounts we fund.


Decision Process


SFF staff and Board of Directors conduct a competitive review and evaluate an applicant’s strength in the following categories:

  • Program effectiveness
  • Executive and staff leadership
  • Board leadership
  • Impact potential
  • Fiscal stability
  • Communications
  • Fundraising

In addition to this evaluation, the grant amount also takes into account the percentage of individuals served in our geographic region, private contributed income from renewable sources, and is offset by In-Kind Office Space Grant Value (Only relevant to Sobrato Center for Nonprofits tenants).


If a grant is approved, the Foundation generally awards operating support in the range of 1-8% of an agency’s renewable private cash contributed income figure (excluding unique one-time gifts, capital campaign and endowment contributions).


Grant Award Features

This innovative program benefits the social impact of both SFF and its grantees:


Flexibility and Accountability
Grantees can allocate their funds for general operating support.


We award support in the form of 2:1 fundraising challenge grants to help sustain and/or build nonprofits’ institutional capacity. A Challenge Grant from our Foundation is defined as a grant that is contingent upon new or increased funds raised and received from non-governmental sources during the first year of a specific grant period.


Multi-Year support with a 5% increase in the second year

We provide two years of unrestricted conditional support to ensure funding stability during nonprofits’ strategic planning and budgeting cycles. We do not require any “time off” between grants, so an agency can receive continuous funding.