Nonprofits play a major role in City service delivery. The City and County of San Francisco contracts with nonprofits for a substantial percentage of its services. In fact, the City disbursed over $483 million to 804 nonprofit vendors in fiscal year 2007-2008, approximately 500 of which provide health and human services. The City and County of San Francisco and the nonprofits that inhabit the city are mutually dependent upon one another. City contracts at times comprise substantial proportions of some nonprofits’ revenue, while at the same time the City relies upon these organizations to deliver a broad range of culturally appropriate and accessible services to local residents.
Nonprofits offer competitive advantages with respect to service delivery. The City and County of San Francisco recognizes the ability and expertise of the nonprofit sector to deliver responsive and effective housing and social services to local residents, particularly those made vulnerable by poverty and other factors. Nonprofits are recognized for their ability to provide culturally competent and geographically accessible services. They provide greater flexibility than City agencies in program implementation, are able to leverage funding in innovative ways, can often scale up programming more quickly than the City, and can experiment and take risks to achieve social change that the City cannot.
San Francisco’s nonprofit service providers are currently facing immense financial challenges. When surveyed in early 2008, substantial proportions of San Francisco nonprofits were unsure about their ability to meet 2008 budgets and raise enough operating support. The sector has endured further cuts since that time, as foundation, city and state support has diminished further. The city and state budgets will continue to shrink for some time. The negative impact of the economic recession has raised deep concerns about the vulnerabilities of the sector.
Nonprofits also face staffing challenges. Many nonprofit and City leaders note that maintaining qualified and high performing staff members is a challenge in a city with a high cost of living. As nonprofits develop staff talent, staff members frequently leave for higher paying jobs with the City. One benefit of this is that City department leaders with nonprofit backgrounds bring new perspectives and ideas to government work as well as an in-depth understanding of nonprofit governance and service delivery issues. At the same time, nonprofits experience a sense of leadership lost and a desire for the City to return the favor by becoming a leadership training ground for future nonprofit leaders.
Through this program resources are strategically leveraged to strengthen the capacity of grantee organizations and their staff, to foster increased cooperation, collaboration, efficiency and the sharing of best practices among groups of service providers, and to facilitate neighborhood and community planning by networks of service providers.
Through grants to technical assistance providers grantee organizations are able to access the expertise of consultants, attorneys, and experts in nonprofit management through workshops and trainings, direct technical assistance, consulting, and other formats. Access to this expertise is key to building the capacity of nonprofit staff, strengthening the systems and infrastructure of organizations, increasing compliance with federal and city mandates and ensuring that high-quality services are delivered to clients.
By funding collaboratives that bring together organizations that share common interests and needs, such as neighborhood centers or homeownership counseling programs, the program is able to foster increased cooperation, collaboration, efficiency and the sharing of best practices among groups of service providers. These funds are also highly leveraged, as they help establish structures through which the participating nonprofits build each other’s own capacities and resources.
Finally, through facilitated neighborhood planning processes, planning grants also allow for nonprofits, city government, residents and key stakeholders within low-income neighborhoods to all work together to map the assets in a community, better coordinate the delivery of essential services, foster increased collaboration between all the organizations working within that community, and to build a sustainable infrastructure and institutional framework to ensure that high quality services will be delivered to its residents in the future.
Last updated: 11/1/2010 2:09:14 PM