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May & Stanley Smith Charitable Trust


The May and Stanley Smith Charitable Trust’s Program Areas and priorities are guided by its 2014-2018 strategic plan and built on the person-centered approach of its historical grantmaking, taking into consideration the evolving context, needs, opportunities, and overall funding landscape for organizations working in the Trust’s core Program Areas.

The majority of the Trust’s funding supports organizations that provide direct services to individuals. In addition, the Trust supports organizations intervening at various levels to effect positive change – the individual, the family, and the community – as well as organizations striving to bring about changes in systems, policies, and/or behaviors that contribute to improved well-being and opportunity for its target populations. With all of its grantmaking, the Trust is particularly interested in supporting organizations that strive to achieve a lasting difference in the lives of the people they serve.

The Trust supports organizations serving people in British Columbia, Canada and the Western United States, defined as: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming.

The Trust awards grants to organizations serving the following populations: foster children and youth, military veterans, elders, and people with disabilities. See the Grant Program Areas section of this website for a description of the Trust’s priorities in serving each of these populations.

The Trust accepts applications for program/project support and general operating support (i.e., support for an organization’s operations as a whole rather than a particular project, inclusive of expenses such as administrative staff’s salaries, overhead expenses, non-capital equipment, and capacity building activities). Last year, over half of the Trust’s funding was awarded in general operating support.

Size and Duration of Grants

The size of the Trust’s grants are matched to the organization’s need, capabilities, opportunities, scale of impact, and the program’s fit with the Trust’s priorities, as well as the organization’s historic pattern of support from other institutional donors, its developmental stage, and the Trust’s overall availability of funds. Typically, the Trust’s grant will be average or above average among an organization’s other funders, but not generally the largest grant received by an organization. Organizations with successful track records of results may receive larger grants. Consistent with its core value of interdependence and a desire to encourage organizations to develop a broad base of support, the Trust prefers to invest alongside other funders and rarely makes grants that represent 100% of a project budget.

Initial grants are typically one year in duration. The Trust will consider multiple-year grant requests from organizations that have already successfully completed at least one grant cycle with the Trust. Multiple-year grants are generally two years in duration. The Trust may occasionally consider three-year grant requests. Three-year grants acknowledge the grantee organization’s well-articulated, compelling vision and long-term plan for its programs, and its strong alignment with the Trust’s priorities.

Grant Making Priorities

The May and Stanley Smith Charitable Trust receives many more proposals from qualified organizations than it is able to fund; therefore, the application process is highly competitive.

When making funding decisions, the Trust prioritizes organizations that exhibit these characteristics:

  • Meet a demonstrated need or address a gap in services/programs
  • Offer innovative programs and services
  • Directly address one or more of the goals identified for the Trust’s Grant Program Areas
  • Provide services that have long-term, sustainable impact
  • Have a proven track record of success, with at least two years of measurable results
  • Offer programs and services that reflect best practices or evidenced-based solutions, and/or that represent creative, effective approaches to addressing persistent needs or challenges
  • Have experienced and engaged staff and an active and committed board of directors who bring knowledge and experience in relevant fields of service
  • Are highly respected among peers and funders in their field of service (e.g., funders and/or peer organizations cite the program/organization as a model or leader in the field, the organization’s leaders are sought out for their expertise and counsel, organization’s approached has shaped the work of other leading organizations in the program sector, etc.)
  • Consistently gather feedback from stakeholders and program beneficiaries and incorporate findings in program design, service delivery, and overall administration and governance
  • Collaborate with other entities in order to meet client needs and avoid duplication of effort
  • Have a stable financial position and demonstrate strong financial management capacity
  • Receive broad support from the community and a variety of other foundation and corporate funders
  • Receive less than 70% of their revenues from government sources.

The Trust defines government funding as all direct or indirect funding received by an organization from government sources, whether in the form of grants; contracts from federal, state, and/or local government agencies, including public school districts, arts councils, and Regional Centers; or government funds received indirectly through medical or social service reimbursement programs, such as programs administered by Medicaid, Medicare, or a Department of Vocational Rehabilitation.

  • Have an annual budget of more than $250,000
  • Use volunteers well and manage them effectively
  • Have clearly-articulated and measurable goals and proposed outcomes and reasonable, practical plans to achieve these
  • Can answer the question: “How do you know your work is effective?” – have a sound system for tracking, analyzing, documenting, and communicating improvements in beneficiaries’ lives or other significant impact
  • Engage in learning and reflection and use data to improve services and/or organizational performance

The greater the number of these characteristics that describe your organization, the more competitive your application will likely be.

If you have questions regarding your organization’s alignment with the Trust’s guidelines, you may contact the Grants Manager at 415-332-0166 or

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