Rancho Santa Fe Women’s Fund

OVERVIEW: This is a women’s giving circle focused on Northern San Diego County and the needs of women and families here. Local grants are awarded annually.  

FUNDING AREAS: Women, youth, family, human services, community, basic needs

IP TAKE: Be very focused with your letter of inquiry and consider how to best put up to $50,000 to use for your organization. Being clear and focused goes a long way with this women’s group.

PROFILE: The Rancho Santa Fe Women’s Fund is based in Encinitas, California and is the local women’s giving circle in Northern San Diego County. The fund was established in 2004. This is a group that pools its money together to give approximately $250,000 in grants to local nonprofits each year. It was established to bring local women together and give back together to the Greater San Diego community. Its mascot is the hummingbird, a creature with lots of energy and that is unique, adaptive, and strong. The women in this group choose a new area of focus each year, which benefits women and girls.

Recent areas of focus have revolved around women’s services and youth. The funder seeks proposals that address an urgent or critical need, that introduce a new venture, or that pose a solution to a persistent problem. Past grantees include the Armed Services YMCA at Camp Pendleton, Just in Time for Foster Youth, Mama’s Kitchen, and the San Diego Public Library Foundation.

A majority of grants here are between $25,000 and $50,000 each. Grant cycles are announced each August, and the annual grant cycle runs from August to May. Your organization must be located in San Diego County to be eligible for a grant. This is a funder that often supports grassroots groups, but familiar names, such as Boys and Girls Clubs and YMCAs, also receive funding regularly.

The application process begins by submitting a letter of intent to the fund. Unsolicited letters of inquiry are welcome here. Applicants can download the LOI form on the funder’s website and submit yours by September 1. In late November, additional organizations will be selected to respond to a request for proposals, and those RFPs are due in early January. Site visits are common, and the fund awards grants by member vote in May.

The best ways to reach the foundation are by email at womensfund@rsffoundation.org or by phone at 760-756-0249. The fund is physically located in the offices of the Rancho Santa Fe Foundation. Since membership roles are subject to change frequently, you can address correspondence to “RSFWF Administrator.” Keep up with foundation news and events on the funder’s website.


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