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Announcing the Real Cost Project: A Statewide Collaboration to Support Nonprofit Outcomes

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

All of us involved in philanthropy today—foundations, individual donors, corporations, government, nonprofits, and community leaders—recognize that the social sector is in the midst of a radical transformation. 

Accordingly, grantmakers across California are examining their practices and looking to develop new approaches in order to increase impact in the communities they serve. Recently, many grantmakers have begun exploring an approach based on real cost funding—that is all of the necessary investments for a nonprofit organization to deliver on mission and to be sustainable over the long term. This approach to grantmaking starts with the end in mind—what are the outcomes you are looking to achieve and what does it really cost to deliver those outcomes?

Northern California Grantmakers, San Diego Grantmakers and Southern California Grantmakers are pleased to announce the launch of our new joint initiative—the Real Cost Project—to increase the impact of philanthropy across California. Created by funders for funders, the Real Cost Project aims to support foundations, individual donors, corporations, governments, and community leaders as they adapt their grantmaking to strengthen outcomes. All three of our regional associations are excited to take a leadership role in this growing national conversation through our year-long initiative.

The Real Cost Project

The Real Cost Project seeks to provide the knowledge and skills to support an outcomes-based funding approach and identify the best new practices and approaches to increasing impact. This statewide initiative will utilize a mix of educational, advocacy, and skills-building elements to engage funders in local conversations about what it takes to deliver real outcomes and to build the skills and capacity of program officers, trustees, and others engaged in grantmaking to provide real cost funding. For information and updates on project initiatives, upcoming convenings, additional resources, and news visit

Regional Forums – Save The Dates!

As a first step, we will host a series of forums and convenings across the state designed to shine a light on key considerations about full-cost funding and improving outcomes. As a member of one of the three California regional associations, you are invited to join any of the local conversations:

San Francisco – June 9
Silicon Valley – June 10
Los Angeles – June 15
Orange County (in partnership with the Orange County Funders Roundtable) – June 19
San Diego – June 23

Skills-Building Sessions

In the fall of 2015, we’ll host a series of sessions that support funders wishing to integrate real cost considerations into their grantmaking. The regional forums in June will help shape the content for these sessions.

Project Leadership

The Real Cost Project is made possible with generous funding from the California Community Foundation, The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, The David and Lucile Packard Foundation, The Parker Foundation, The Ralph M. Parsons Foundation, and Weingart Foundation.

NCG, SDG, and SCG are collaborating with David Greco at Social Sector Partners to lead the project planning and execution. For project inquiries, please contact David Greco, Project Director, at or 415.200.7581.

We sincerely hope you will participate in the project and we look forward to sharing updates as the project evolves.


Ellen LaPointe
President and CEO
Northern California Grantmakers          
Christine Essel
President and CEO
Southern California Grantmakers          
Nancy Jamison
Executive Director
San Diego Grantmakers