Full Cost Project



About the Full Cost Project

The Full Cost Project is a joint initiative of Philanthropy California and Nonprofit Finance Fund to support a funding model that honestly assesses the full cost for organizations to deliver on their missions and to be sustainable over time. We are bringing together education, advocacy, and skill-building with the goal to increase the number of funders that provide full cost funding and to build the skills and capacity of all those engaged in grantmaking: foundations, corporations, individuals, and government.


By Changing The Way We Fund Nonprofits Right Now, We Can Fundamentally Improve Their Ability To Do The Work and Achieve Our Shared Goals 

Nonprofits are often built with remarkable resourcefulness—but a lack of sufficient funding is a serious threat to their ability to deliver social good. The expectation to continuously work with unrealistically low administrative and fundraising costs can exact a high price from nonprofits, many of whom are compelled to contort their budgets and skimp on staffing in order to deliver results within funders’ budget structures.


Funders across the country are beginning to recognize that a low budget does not equate with organizational effectiveness. In order to manage successful programs, nonprofits must have the capacity to invest in infrastructure and the people at the heart of their work over the long-term.


Where We Are: Phase III 

In light of the feedback and insights we have garnered to date, we continue to believe we can play a constructive role in shepherding the culture change necessary to overcome some of the barriers that still exist in shifting to a full cost approach. We see value in continuing to deepen and expand the successful approaches we developed in Phase Two, and to elevate the visibility of the approach in the sector more broadly.  As such, we are preparing to embark on Phase Three of the Full Cost Project.

Our efforts will fall into four categories, with related objectives linked to each:


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