Frequently Asked Questions
What is the history of the Chronicle Season of Sharing Fund?
The San Francisco Chronicle created the Chronicle Season of Sharing Fund in 1986, as an extension of the Emergency Family Needs/Housing Assistance Fund administered by Northern California Grantmakers in 1983-84. Since the San Francisco Chronicle started the Fund, $138 million has been distributed. All donations have been used to resolve critical needs and housing issues and provide millions of emergency meals for people who might otherwise go hungry in the nine-county Bay Area.
What is the purpose of the Fund?
Despite public and private efforts, thousands of San Francisco Bay Area families and individuals slip through social safety nets. Typically, these are low-income people (many of whom are working at minimum wage jobs or working minimum hours) who have emergency needs that can’t be met via other resources. Through a network of 150 community service agencies, the Chronicle Season of Sharing Fund provides assistance to strengthen the stability of a family in crisis.
How does the Fund work?
The San Francisco Chronicle features stories of people in need who have been helped by the Fund beginning Thanksgiving Day and concluding New Year’s Day. Through the Chronicle’s online and print readership network, nearly two million readers are invited to contribute to the Fund. Local agencies provide screening and referral services to individuals. Social service departments work closely with clients and prepare a detailed budget with the goal of finding and eliminating areas of concern. Once applications are approved, fiscal agents in each county disburse grants. All funds donated are distributed throughout the year.
Is a percentage of donated dollars allocated to cover administrative expenses?
No. Every dollar contributed goes to our neighbors in need. All administrative expenses are paid for by the Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund and the San Francisco Chronicle, as well as by the 150 community service agencies who distribute the funds in each county.
Who is eligible for assistance and how do they find out about receiving help?
Senior citizens (55+), disabled individuals, veterans, victims of domestic violence, transitioning emancipated foster youth, and low-to-moderate income families with dependent children who have a critical need and who reside in the counties of Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Solano, or Sonoma. Funds are also distributed to food banks in these counties. If you or someone you know needs temporary assistance and might qualify for a grant, please call 415-777-7120. This number will direct you to the county coordinator in the county in which you live.
What is the method of assistance?
Critical needs assistance is provided in the form of grants that are paid directly to the supplier of services. Assistance is also provided to local Bay Area food banks to purchase food. Each year, Season of Sharing funds provide over 2.7 million meals and help to resolve critical needs and housing assistance issues for nearly 4,500 individuals and families. Through the years, thousands of children and their parents have been moved out of shelters into permanent housing and the funds have prevented tens of thousands of others from becoming homeless. The Chronicle Season of Sharing Fund does not distribute funds directly to individuals, and we will never ask applicants for their bank or credit card numbers. If you suspect email fraud, please report it here.
How are grants allocated to participating counties?
Eighty-five percent of the total funds donated are used for housing and critical needs. The remaining 15 percent of the funds is used to support food banks for emergency food services. All funds are distributed on a percentage basis among the nine counties.
May I donate goods to the Fund?
We are unable to manage donations of any type of goods, including toys, holiday food baskets, clothing, furniture, automobiles, etc. HELPLINK at 1-800-273-6222 can suggest organizations in your area seeking such donations.
How does the San Francisco Chronicle support the Fund?
The San Francisco Chronicle supports the Chronicle Season of Sharing Fund through an annual cash donation, by covering certain administrative costs, and by providing a tremendous amount of in-kind support in the form of promotional services. In addition, during the annual fundraising effort, which runs from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day, Chronicle reporters and photographers fan out across the Bay Area to document the challenges facing individuals and families in need who have been helped by the Fund. These stories are published in the Chronicle and on SFGate.com. The newspaper and its website, SFGate.com, publish information about the Fund, lists of contributors, running totals of donations to the Fund and coupons advising readers how to contribute. The promotional efforts include publishing ads throughout the paper and SFGate.com to further encourage Bay Area residents to help their neighbors in need. At the conclusion of the campaign, the San Francisco Chronicle publishes an accounting of funds donated and how funds were distributed.
Is donor information provided or sold to anyone else?
Absolutely not. We value each and every contribution and all are completely confidential. The only time information is provided is with the donor’s permission: names are published in the paper and contributions over $2,000 are published in our annual report. Our donor database is private.
Are contributions tax-deductible?
Yes. The Season of Sharing Fund is a non-profit corporation exempt from income tax with 501(c)(3) status.
Are contributions accepted all year?
Yes. The account is open year-round. Contributions can be sent at any time to:
Chronicle Season of Sharing Fund
P.O. Box 44740
San Francisco, CA 94144
Who can I contact if I still need information?
Contact the Chronicle Season of Sharing Fund office at 901 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA 94103, via email using our contact form or call 415-777-7120.