Wine being poured into a glass. Text: Sonoma County Vintners Foundation Community Grants program

Information on the 2024 Vintners Foundation Community Grants Program will be shared in March.

Overview

The Sonoma County Vintners Foundation’s signature fundraising event, the Sonoma County Wine Auction, has raised over $39 million for local causes, helping to address Sonoma County’s most pressing needs, and fostering both immediate and long-term change.

The Foundation cultivates a vibrant and diverse Sonoma County through charitable giving focused on improving education, health & human services, the environment, and arts & culture. The Foundation’s annual Community Grants Program ensures that nonprofit organizations working across Sonoma County have the opportunity to apply for funding in these four areas of impact.

Sonoma County Vintners logo
Program Areas & Funding Priorities
The Sonoma County Vintners Foundation is pleased to continue our commitment to four program areas: Health and Human Services, Education, Environment, and Arts and Culture. Please see the table below for each program area’s funding priorities for 2023.

A few key points to keep in mind as you consider applying:

  • Applicants in the four priority areas will be considered when the request aligns specifically with the stated funding priority
  • To provide broad community-wide support, we will consider only one proposal from any one nonprofit organization
  • Grant requests must be no more than $10,000
  • We encourage, but do not require, applicants to attend one of our grant workshops, where we will provide further details about the funding priorities and criteria
How Does Data Inform The Funding Priorities?
  • Even as Sonoma County becomes increasingly diverse, racial inequities persist with rent burdens highest for women of color, and income inequalities becoming greater for those earning the least. Bay Area Equity Atlas Furthermore, the COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately impacted Black and brown communities, all contributing to decreasing mental health. CA Budget & Policy Center
  • Over the last five years the READY project has observed a decline in kindergarten readiness in Sonoma County, with large disparities between white and BIPOC students as well as Dual Language Learners. Sonoma County School Readiness Report High-quality preschool experiences, as well as other early learning opportunities, can address these disparities and allow children to build noncognitive skills they need to succeed in school. Portrait of Sonoma County 2021 Update
  • Wildfires are increasing in size and intensity in California and wildfire seasons are growing longer. An increase in temperatures is compounding pre-existing conditions, namely fuel accumulation in our forest, to escalate fire risk. New York Times
  • Creativity through the arts can help counterbalance the short- and long-term emotional toll that can come from extreme loss and trauma. Clinical Social Work Journal
Evaluation Criteria

Our Community Grants program is a broadly accessible, responsive grants program meant to address the most pressing needs across all our communities. When evaluating proposals, we use the following criteria to assess the competitiveness of a project or program:

  • The proposal aligns with the Community Grants funding priorities.
  • The goals, implementation timeline, and staffing are clearly defined and achievable within the one-year grant period.
  • The proposal increases access to a diverse sector of our community.
Eligibility Criteria

Sonoma County 501c3 nonprofit organizations may apply for a Community Grant for either program or project support. We do not accept proposals for:

  • Annual fund campaigns, fundraising events, or debt retirement
  • Capital campaigns
  • Conferences
  • Scholarships
  • Grants (or loans) to individuals
  • Political or religious purposes (or programs requiring religious participation)
  • Projects that primarily serve residents outside of Sonoma County
  • Organizations that discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, ancestry, citizenship, age, gender, sexual orientation, disability, or any other characteristic protected by law
Program FAQ
⤵️ Download the 2023 Community Grants FAQ

Funding Criteria and Priorities

What types of projects or programs are you prioritizing?

Sonoma County Vintners Foundation is pleased to continue our commitment to four key program areas: Health and Human Services, Education, Environment, and Arts and Culture. Please visit our website for an overview of the specific funding priority within each of these four areas.

What criteria will you use to make your decisions?

  • The proposal aligns with the Community Grants funding priorities.
  • The goals, implementation timeline, and staffing are clearly defined and achievable within the one-year grant period.
  • The proposal increases access to a diverse sector of our community.

Do you prioritize organizations that are past grant recipients, or do you prefer to fund organizations that are new to Sonoma County Vintners Foundation?

We are interested in funding new organizations and innovative projects in our community, and we value the partnerships we have already created with many organizations; we do not prioritize one over the other. Please do keep in mind that being a former grantee does not guarantee future funding.

Do you prioritize programs that have a light touch with many people over in-depth programs that serve fewer individuals?

We prioritize programs that fully address the criteria and have the greatest possible impact on outcomes as defined in your application.

Funding

How will you distribute the funding among the four Program Areas? Across geographic regions?

We recognize that there are needs in all four Program Areas as outlined in our funding priorities. We will allocate a percentage of funds available in proportion to the number of applications received in each program area. Additionally, we strive to allocate funding equitably across the different geographic regions of our county.

What is the minimum and maximum amount of funding we can apply for?

The minimum grant request amount is $5,000; the maximum funding amount is $10,000.

What proportion of applicants received funding last year?

About half of last year’s applicants received funding. We encourage interested organizations to self-select by weighing their proposed project’s alignment with the criteria and funding priorities before beginning the application process.

Do you award partial grants?

On occasion we do award partial grants, but we strive to fully fund requests as we know that it is difficult to deliver on your goals that you have outlined in your proposal with less funding than you have planned for.

Do you provide funding to sponsor events or scholarships?

No, the Community Grants program is not designed to sponsor events or fund scholarships.

Are public schools eligible to apply?

Yes, provided there is a lead person associated with the grant and the project priorities align with the funding priorities.

Can funding be applied to staff costs?

Yes, you can apply for funding for staff costs to run your program or project.

Is there a limit to the percentage of overhead that can be included in a project or program proposal?

There is not a specific limit to the percentage of administrative expenses that can be included in a proposal. However, we encourage you to select an amount that is reasonable to the project or program request.

If my nonprofit organization is based outside of Sonoma County, can I still apply for a grant?

Nonprofit organizations that have a significant presence in Sonoma County but are based outside of Sonoma County are eligible to apply.

How many applications can an organization submit? What if our organization has several departments that work independently?

In general, our priority is to provide broad community-wide support and prefer only one proposal from any one nonprofit organization within a given grant cycle. However, if your organization is very large, with distinctly different programs, you may consider submitting more than one application. We recommend that you contact us before you proceed with submitting with more than one application.

Will it hurt my chances to apply for the same program I applied for last year?

We accept applications for the same project or program you applied for last year. Generally speaking, if your application was declined, it may indicate that the project or program was not a good fit for this funding.

We are working with a community partner organization that is also applying for a separate grant for a different project. Are we still eligible to apply?

As long as the two programs are different, you are eligible to apply.

Who reviews the grant applications?

The Sonoma County Vintners Foundation Grants Committee, in partnership with Community Foundation, reviews proposals and makes final funding decisions.

If a grant is awarded, is there a deadline by which an organization must expend the funds?

The grant period for the 2023 Community Grants program is from June 15, 2023, to June 14, 2024. The funds must be expended within the grant year.

Can I apply to both a Sonoma County Vintners Foundation Community Grant and a Community Foundation Sonoma County grant?

Yes. These grant programs are separate, and you may apply to both the Community Foundation and Sonoma County Vintners Foundation’s grant programs.

How to Apply

Application Process

Sonoma County Vintners Foundation uses Community Foundation Sonoma County’s online process for submitting grant applications. If this is your first application using the new online portal, you will be asked to set up an account.

If you have an established account, you will be asked for your password to open a new application.

We highly recommend reviewing the FAQs for Online Submission before beginning your application.

Proposal Components

Once you’ve opened an online account, you will be asked a series of questions that include your contact information and a series of narrative questions. Applicants will also be asked to upload the following documents:

  • Board of Directors list
  • Organization and Program/Project budget*
  • If using a fiscal sponsor, complete the Fiscal Sponsorship Form. Provide an Organization Budget and Board of Directors list for both the fiscal sponsor and the organization being sponsored.

*A program budget template is available on our website. You may choose to use your own template instead. We do not provide a template for the organization budget.

A few words of caution:

  • When working in the electronic application portal, save your work as you go along. If you want to leave and then return to complete your application later, save your work before you exit the program.
  • As the grant deadline nears, we receive a high volume of calls and emails, and we may not be able to respond to your request immediately. Please consider this in your planning and apply early in case you encounter technical difficulties or have questions about the grant program.
Application Documents
Please note, applications must be submitted online through our Grants Portal, and will not be accepted via email.  If you prefer to draft your application in Microsoft Word, before submitting through our online grant application portal, we have compiled a copy of each application for you to use. Please click the links below to download the .docx file for the program area you are interested in applying for:

Application Process
Sonoma County Vintners Foundation uses Community Foundation Sonoma County’s online process for submitting grant applications. If this is your first application using the new online portal, you will be asked to set up an account.

If you have an established account, you will be asked for your password to open a new application.

We highly recommend reviewing the FAQs for Online Submission before beginning your application.

Proposal Components

Once you’ve opened an online account, you will be asked a series of questions that include your contact information and a series of narrative questions. Applicants will also be asked to upload the following documents:

  • Board of Directors list
  • Organization and Program/Project budget*
  • If using a fiscal sponsor, complete the Fiscal Sponsorship Form. Provide an Organization Budget and Board of Directors list for both the fiscal sponsor and the organization being sponsored.

*A program budget template is available on our website. You may choose to use your own template instead. We do not provide a template for the organization budget.

A few words of caution:

  • When working in the electronic application portal, save your work as you go along. If you want to leave and then return to complete your application later, save your work before you exit the program.
  • As the grant deadline nears, we receive a high volume of calls and emails, and we may not be able to respond to your request immediately. Please consider this in your planning and apply early in case you encounter technical difficulties or have questions about the grant program.
Application Documents
Please note, applications must be submitted online through our Grants Portal, and will not be accepted via email.  If you prefer to draft your application in Microsoft Word, before submitting through our online grant application portal, we have compiled a copy of each application for you to use. Please click the links below to download the .docx file for the program area you are interested in applying for:

For questions about the grant program, please contact:
Amy Holter

Amy Holter

Vice President for Community Impact

707.303.9621
For questions about the grant program, please contact:
Annette Williams

Annette Williams

Community Impact Coordinator

707.303.9639