Frequently Asked Questions

Is there a minimum budget size?

No, we accept applications from arts organizations regardless of budget size. However, applicants must demonstrate fiscal responsibility, evidenced by:

  • receiving non-GFTA sources of funding;
  • maintaining insurance policies required by the City Risk Manager;
  • not having one source of contributed income comprise 50% or more of their budget.

Can I still apply if our organization performs outside the city?

Yes, but your organization must be San Francisco based (be located physically in the City) and produce a dependable series of programs within the City and County of San Francisco.


My organization is not a 501(c)(3). Can I still apply?

Although we prefer that applicants have 501(c)(3) status, an organization can apply if it uses a valid fiscal sponsor.


What is a valid fiscal sponsor?

A San Francisco organization having official nonprofit 501(c)(3) status as recognized by the IRS, willing to act as a fiduciary agent on behalf of the applicant. For purposes of receiving money from GFTA, this agent must handle and account for all funds itemized in the budget presented in the application (not just grant funds). Ideally, a fiscal sponsoring organization should have an understanding of and experience with the art form, as well as nonprofit accounting and fiscal agent services.


Is there a limit on the grant amount I can request?

Applicants are not restricted in the amounts they request. Most organizations request a reasonable increase from the previous year’s award. One factor in determining a grant amount is the three-year average of an organizations operating budget. For reference, below are the approximate budget percentages currently being used as guidelines for GFTA’s General Operating Support—Arts grants. We offer these guidelines to applicants in order to provide guidance on what would be a reasonable amount to request. Please note that these percentages are only guidelines and grant awards are always based upon a number of funding criteria factors, as well as the availability of funds.

  • Budgets of under $350,000 – 15%.
  • Budgets of more than $350,000 but less than $750,000 – 10%.
  • Budgets of more than $750,000 but less than $1,000,000 – 8%.
  • Budgets of more than $1,000,000 but less than $3,000,000 – 6%.
  • Budgets of more than $3,000,000 but less than $10,000,000 – 5%
  • Budgets of more than $10,000,000 but less than $25,000,000 – 2%
  • Budgets of more than $25,000,000 – no more than 1%

If my fiscal year is different from the standard fiscal year
(July 1 to June 30), how do I report my figures?

Please note the dates of your fiscal year on the application, and provide available figures on the form.


If my fiscal year is not over, which figures do I report?

Please provide the most recent figures available on the application supplement, noting so on the application form through a footnote and/or written explanation. Staff may request final figures during the review process. NOTE: while the application requests current year and past year financial records, grant amounts are based on the most recently completed fiscal year figures. Thus, depending on your fiscal year term, grant amounts may be based on financial figures that are 18 months old.


Does my organization need a financial audit or review?

If your organization has an operating budget of $2 million or more, you are required to submit a financial AUDIT of the most recently completed fiscal year conducted by an independent certified public accountant (CPA). By our definition, an independent CPA is not involved with the daily workings of your organization. Usually an outside accounting firm is hired annually, specifically to conduct this procedure. The audit must be in accordance with generally accepted accounting standards and give a reasonable assurance that the financial statements are free of material misstatements. An audit is an in-depth look at organizational financial practices, including examining evidence that supports the amounts and disclosures in the financial statements. It also includes assessing the accounting principles used as well as evaluating the overall financial statement presentation.

Please note that there is a report that can be generated by a CPA called a compilation report. This type of report is limited to merely presenting, in the form of financial statements, information provided by management. These reports are not reviewed or audited, thus they do not meet GFTA’s requirement for an audit or review.


Do you accept late applications?

Grants for the Arts expects all applicants to meet posted grant application deadlines. In some instances, appeals for submitting a late application may be approved. Approval to submit a late application does not imply that the grant will be awarded, only that the application will be considered. Please read our appeals process for further information.


How do I obtain a grant application?

Applications are only available once a year. We suggest you attend a How to Apply workshop. The workshops are an opportunity to review GFTA guidelines and priorities, explain the application process, and have questions answered by GFTA staff. To obtain information as to date, place and time of the next workshop, please email or call GFTA.


Are applications available online?

Yes, but only between grant program deadlines. Please see our Program Information page for further details.


How can I get a copy of the guidelines and criteria for the grant?

There are several ways of accessing this information:


Do you fund organizations that are not based in San Francisco?

No, GFTA cannot fund organizations outside of the City and County of San Francisco.


Do you fund organizations who do programming outside of San Francisco but are based in the city and county of San Francisco?

Yes, but funds can only be used for San Francisco program activities.


Do you fund individual artists and their activities?

No, GFTA cannot fund individual artists. If you are an individual artist, you may want to contact the San Francisco Arts Commission.


What is the Grants for the Arts Assistance List?

At GFTA we consider our grantees partners in a shared effort to promote the city through art and culture. As a partner, we are proud to invest in your organization’s good work through General Operating Support.

During our application evaluation process, the GFTA staff and Advisory Panel may identify organizations which need support in a specific area (e.g., financial management, fundraising, programmatic impact, etc.). These organizations in need of help are added to our “Assistance List” and will be notified that GFTA is looking for marked improvement before future grants may be awarded.

We want our grantees to be positioned for success. We have a number of pro-bono technical assistance services and training activities available to support a broad range of capacities our grantees may need help building.


How long does it usually take to receive a reimbursement?

Once all forms are in order, it generally takes 2 to 4 weeks.


What are the reimbursement guidelines?

Visit our Reimbursement Guidelines page for details.


Can my organization apply if we do not have 501(c)(3) nonprofit status?

GFTA can only fund nonprofit organizations and encourages all grantees to obtain nonprofit 501(c)(3) legal status. However, if your organization is in the process of attaining such status, you may use a fiscal sponsor with nonprofit 501(c)(3) status that agrees to represent your organization. If you are using a fiscal sponsor, you must use an application specially tailored to organizations using a fiscal sponsor. This application requires a copy of a formal agreement between you and your fiscal sponsor.

If you have other questions regarding the application process, contact GFTA staff at 415.554.6710 or [email protected].