Author Archives: Suki OKane

  1. #FixTheForm!


    Back in the summer of 2015, the Walter & Elise Haas Fund launched its first online grantseeker portal. Our aspirations were high: a collaborative workspace for grantseekers and grantmakers, anywhere access to grantee data, shared knowledge, searchable and shareable data, and the powerful insights newly made possible.

    Seven years and one pandemic later, we’ve heard all that was fine, thank you, and that…

    We need to #FixTheForm.

    In late 2020, GrantAdvisor asked grantseekers to identify the challenges they encountered when completing grant applications. The feedback rolled in immediately. Many described plentiful challenges in unnecessarily burdensome grant applications. These hurdles cost nonprofits precious time, money, and resources. Ultimately, our well-meaning but flawed grant application forms weren’t living up to our high aspirations.

    In response, GrantAdvisor—our real time feedback partner—launched a “scrappy grassroots international movement to identify (and fix!) the top pain points in grant applications.” They teamed up with the Technology Association of Grantmakers (we’re members) to #FixTheForm.

    They started with grantseekers’ top complaint: they couldn’t see full grant forms before they began applying. That meant under-pressure grantseekers had to field unexpected questions. So #fixtheform is working to remove the element of surprise from the application process, by collecting and sharing 100 grant applications in 100 days.

    We hear #fixtheform’s call to action. Our response is: “can do”.

    It took us a mere 10 minutes to join the movement of those working to break down barriers to grant funding. We hope that simple action will save grantseekers far more than 10 minutes.

    If you’re a grantmaker, it’s not too late to join the party. The deadline set by GrantAdvisor is July 23. Perhaps you’ll find, like us, that the making your grant application accessible proves beneficial. We discovered inconsistencies in our forms in the process, and were able to make corrections on the spot. Perhaps, like us, the exercise will remind you of how much more work we can do to minimize the burdens on grantseekers.

    If you’re a grantseeker, please know we’re committed to making our grant application process easier. We respect and appreciate the time and resources grantseekers expend in sharing their stories with us.

    Our aspirations are still high. The things we wanted to do in 2015 have resulted in improved systems. They also changed us; we now accept that the how of grantmaking is absolutely as important as the what and why.

    In our education portfolio, we’re experimenting with integrating input from students, teachers, nonprofits, and grantees into each step of our grantmaking. We’d love to apply the same approach for a more collaborative, low-lift, re-useable grant application across our program areas. With respect for the varying levels of bandwidth people have available, we suggest three ways grantseekers and grantees can potentially inform our work:

    • Give us anonymous feedback at GrantAdvisor.We read it, and we find ourselves wanting more, whether it’s positive or negative.
    • If you’re in conversation with us about a letter of inquiry, a grant proposal, or a report, expect us to ask you for feedback on how well our application works—or doesn’t—for you.
    • If you see an invitation following your application asking what we can do to improve it, answer as candidly as possible. We know that’s hard to do when you’re asking for money, but we really do separate your honest critique from what your organization wants to achieve for and with Bay Area communities.

    The Walter & Elise Haas Fund will continue to center grantseekers, grantees, and the nonprofit community in our efforts to make our grantmaking processes easier and more equitable. We know we have a lot of work left to do. We’re not just reviewing our applications, we’re also taking a critical look at what we really need to ask. As a first step in that process, we hope sharing our current application proves helpful.


  2. Assessing Our Impact: 2017 Grantee Perception Report

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    How are we doing?

    Every five years, the Walter & Elise Haas Fund commissions the Center for Effective Philanthropy (CEP) to survey our grantees so it can ask that question on our behalf. The results get compiled into a Grantee Perception Report.

    Like many of our peers in philanthropy, we commission this work to assess our impact, our efficacy, and our processes. Said more simply, we want to hear how we’re doing so we can test the accuracy of our impressions and see where there’s room for us to improve.

    We commissioned our first Grantee Perception Report in 2007, a second in 2012, and this — the third — in the fall of 2017. These reports and more are always available on our Transparency page.

    We’d like to extend our heartfelt thanks to all those who contributed their input to this report and invite all of you to review the results. We’ve created a digest of the report’s top-line findings, set out a plan of actionable next steps, and have made the full report and an executive summary available for download.


    Assessing Our Impact

  3. Fund Phone is Up!

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    antique-phoneTrying to reach us on the phone?

    The Fund is was having a temporary outage of our phone service, which we are working to resolved.

    If you ever need to reach us without using a phone, try email:

    For grant-related inquiries: [email protected]

    For all other inquiries: [email protected]


  4. Mission Asset Fund in the Paper of Record

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    New-York-Times-Social-Logo1The Fund happily noted grantee Mission Asset Fund on the front page of the New York Times on Saturday. The write-up focuses on MAF’s lending circle program, which helps borrowers access affordable loans, build credit history, and set them up for a financially stable future. MAF is part of the Fund’s Economic Security cohort of grantees, addressing the Fund’s goal to help low-income adults and families achieve upward mobility and economic security. Our strategies focus on workforce development and building and protecting financial assets with grants to organizations that provide direct services, public policy reform, and field building activities.

  5. Pam David Talks on 10%

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    in the news

    Pam David was interviewed by David Perry here, talking about Openhouse and giving insights into the intersection of her activism, public service and leadership of the Fund. Pam is a 2014 recipient of Openhouse’s Adelman/Gurevitch Founders Award (and Marcy Adelman interviews Pam here), and has rich perspective on the history, and the future, of San Francisco’s LGBT community.

    Check it out.


  6. New Grants in July

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    The Fund’s Board of Trustees met in July and approved $1.52M in grants to 28 organizations. With these decisions, the Fund’s 2013 support of vital organizations working in the arts, economic security, education and Jewish life comes to nearly $7.3M. Details are here, along with information about all of our grants made or renewed in the past two years.

    Our next round of grantmaking takes place in November. Learn more about our programs, priorities and application process here.

  7. An Alternative History of the Elise S. Haas Bequest

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    A little more than 20 years ago, devoted philanthropist and longtime advocate for the arts Elise S. Haas gave a remarkable group of paintings, sculptures, and works on paper to SFMOMA. Join the Fund in reading SFMOMA Assistant Curator of Painting and Sculpture Caitlin Haskell’s investigation of the collection over at the Open Space Blog.

    Caitlin’s first entry is up, one of several highlighting specific aspects of the Haas collection’s formation and telling a story of community, of relationships with artists and dealers, and of role models within and beyond Haas’s family and San Francisco sphere. Be sure to check out the engaging interactive diagram, designed by Adam Machacek and researched by Jared Ledesma, curatorial assistant in painting and sculpture.

  8. A Little Housekeeping: Grantseeker Proposal Resources


    Grantseekers invited to submit full proposals should check our resource page for new templates and updates to our submission process:

    • A new cover sheet, now a PDF form, has been redesigned to allow for secure, digital signatures.
    • Budget templates now include in-line help, automatic calculations, and flexible line items that allow applicants to fully describe their budget categories.
    • Put away the postage stamps (and the printer cartridge!): The Fund now accepts proposals only electronically. We understand there may be one or two supplemental materials that can’t be attached to an email, so please note our mailing address.

    These small changes are part of a larger effort to streamline our grantmaking processes.
    Stay tuned for more!

  9. New Grants in April

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    The Fund’s Board of Trustees met in early April and approved $1.71M in grants to 21 organizations. With these decisions, the Fund’s 2013 support of vital organizations working in the arts, economic security, education and Jewish life comes to nearly $3.6M. Details are here, along with information about all of our grants made or renewed in the past two years.

    Our next round of grantmaking takes place in July. Learn more about our programs, priorities and application process here.

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