Nonprofits Seeking Long-Term Relationships: Check Out the Sand Hill Foundation

It’s fairly common for a foundation to give out grants to the same grantee in different years. And it’s somewhat common for a foundation to continue funding the same grantee for a number of years back-to-back. But the Sand Hill Foundation is more long-term-oriented than most. This California grantmaker, which funds organizations in and around the Bay Area, has grantees with whom it’s partnered for more than two decades.

Sand Hill makes grants in three areas: health and opportunity, environment and sustainability, and small capital needs. Under health and opportunity, education assistance programs and programs that mentor low-income clients on entrepreneurship and financial management get funding. So do organizations that offer job training or health services.

College Track is one of Sand Hill's educational opportunity grantees. This nonprofit encourages high school students from low-income backgrounds to go to college and provides them with lots of support to get there, including scholarships, personal counseling, and leadership training. Sand Hill has an ongoing partnership with this nonprofit and has given it numerous grants over the years.

InnVision Shelter Network, a California homelessness outreach organization for adults and youth, is another Sand Hill grantee. It’s been getting Sand Hill money, including some health & opportunity grants, since 1992.

Sand Hill has also been an ongoing supporter of the Opportunity Fund, a California-based micro-savings provider. Since 1999, the Opportunity Fund has helped low-income Bay Area residents create savings accounts with startup capital from Sand Hill.

Through its small capital needs program, Sand Hill gives out capacity-building grants. Grantees spend the money to buy new hardware, upgrade their information systems, construct new buildings, or make other improvements to enable them to serve more clients, or serve current clients more effectively.

Pie Ranch, a farm that hosts inner-city youth and leads them on outdoor and farm-based activities, got a small capital needs grant and used it to get a new passenger van and complete an outdoor kitchen. The Renaissance Entrepreneurship Center, which helps low-income clients start new enterprises and achieve financial self-sufficiency, is another grantee under this program. It put its small capital needs grant to work to create a “small business incubator” in East Palo Alto and to enhance its entrepreneurship-training programs in San Mateo County.

Foundations that form long-lasting partnerships like this are often very picky about whom they will fund. Some go so far as to reject any unsolicited grant application. Not so with Sand Hill: Its website has a full page about how to apply.

Sand Hill tends to form ongoing partnerships with long-term fiscal support, which is good news for grantseekers who are looking to build lasting relationships. It’s the kind of funder that stays engaged with its grantees and expects to help them achieve bigger and better things over time.

With edits and contributions from Kiersten Marek