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Growth of Grantmaking at RSF Foundation

In October 1981, RSF Foundation started as a way to support the local community by a few like minded philanthropists. The growth of the Foundation has been gradual over the past 40 years. Momentum was gained when the Board began hiring staff in 1997 and it wasn’t until 2000 when the Foundation purchased community foundation software and was on track to chart our growth. While our data might only go back to 2000, we know that our impact has taken deep roots in the community and we’re proud of the work we’ve been able to accomplish.

Since 2000, RSF Foundation has granted more than $105 million to our local, state, and global community. To give you some perspective on how the Foundation has grown, in 2000 the Foundation granted out shy of $870,000. Last year, we granted more than $10 million. This grantmaking is a combined effort from our donor advised funds and RSFF discretionary grantmaking funds.

RSF Foundation Grantmaking Growth

Granting in Rancho Santa Fe

While our scope has expanded, we haven’t lost sight of our origins and each year we designate grant funding to help nonprofits operating in the Rancho Santa Fe community. In 2010, the Rancho Santa Fe School needed funding to build a new performing arts center. RSFF stepped in with a commitment of $100,000 to aid the project.

A few years ago, after a particularly rainy season, the RSF Library found their roof needed significant repairs after water leaked into the building damaging books and their equipment. RSF Foundation stepped up with a grant of $10,000 to help with the roof replacement. And for the last few years RSFF has been providing support to the library as they make safety repairs to their patio.

Rancho Santa Fe Library, Art Guild, and School, Helen Woodward Animal Center

Community Impact Fund – Collaborative Grantmaking

RSF Foundation believes that more good can be done in the community when people and organizations collaborate and combine their expertise and resources. The Community Impact Fund at RSF Foundation is a way for donors to join together and make a greater impact than they would be able to individually. Each year the Grants & Projects Committee selects focus area(s) to designate discretionary grantmaking from the Community Impact Fund. Focus areas range from vulnerable seniors in North County, to human trafficking prevention, and most recently the COVID-19 pandemic.

North County COVID-19 Response Fund

Last year when the pandemic began, it became painfully obvious that nonprofits were going to bear a significant burden to meet the needs of the community while also navigating tighter budgets and safety measures to keep staff and clients safe. RSF Foundation joined forces with Coastal Community Foundation and Leichtag Foundation to create the North County COVID-19 Response Fund. In the first month, the Fund granted $322,000 to 12 nonprofits operating essential programs in our North County Community. Since then, total grantmaking from the Fund is more than $930,000 to 35 nonprofits. While grants in the beginning were focused on essential services, grantmaking has shifted to meet the demands of the community and is currently focused on virtual education as schools begin to re-open.

North County Senior Connections

Another example of collaboration is North County Senior Connections (NCSC). After conducting a needs assessment through the Caster Center at USD, RSF Foundation identified a need for healthy aging and increased food security for vulnerable seniors in North County San Diego. In November 2014, NCSC launched, effectively offering a mobile senior center through meals provided by the Thyme Together food truck (run by Dreams for Change), with senior programming at the location organized by Interfaith Community Services. Since North County covers a large area geographically and public transportation is inadequate, NCSC takes the senior center to the seniors. This program offers deeply discounted lunches to seniors followed by activities that inform, entertain and provide socialization for them. RSF Foundation provided the funding for this project from 2014-2017 and the program is still running today.

The Patriots Connection

The Patriots Connection is another RSF Foundation grantmaking effort that seeks to expand the capacity of San Diego area nonprofit programs that serve active-duty military, veterans, and their families. In 2020, The Patriots Connection granted $260,000+ to 18 San Diego County nonprofits. Come back to our blog next month for a feature on The Patriots Connection and how it all began.

How to Get Involved

If you’re interested in joining RSF Foundation’s grantmaking efforts, we encourage you to contact staff and learn how you can get involved.