Back to all

Mar 9th, 2022

Taking a Data-Driven Approach with San Francisco Government

A case study on how our data can influence policy.


Gohar Chichian

Since 2019, we’ve partnered with the San Francisco Office of Economic and Workforce Development (OEWD) to help forge a stronger connection between government and their local nonprofits; and between nonprofits and a virtual community of civically minded volunteers who passionately care about the issues facing the Bay Area.

Government and nonprofits work hand in hand; while nonprofits are dependent upon the public and philanthropic sector for funding, the government is dependent on the nonprofit sector to provide services to its constituents. Thus most nonprofits receive significant revenue from government grants, contracts, or fees for services. In the United States alone, 31.8% of nonprofit revenue comes from government grants and contracts, in addition to government fees for service that make this a critical source of annual support in contrast to traditional foundation grantmaking. Catchafire aims to bridge gaps within the social good sector; we seek to resource nonprofits more effectively and equitably by working with government partners and strengthening the public sector ecosystem as a whole.

Through our partnership, Catchafire provides skills-based capacity building support in a unique way that is otherwise challenging through conventional government programming. To date, 73 nonprofit grantees have saved nearly $1.3 million by matching with highly skilled professional volunteers on Catchafire. These volunteers have donated over 6,000 hours toward project support in key areas such as marketing, IT, organizational strategy, public speaking, and human resources.

A close relationship between nonprofits and government is necessary because they complement one another – creating opportunities to listen to their communities, provide culturally relevant support, and create long-term impact. Governments have a much wider reach and budget than traditional grantmakers, and have the ability to provide sustainable impact at scale, year over year. Catchafire’s customized data provides OEWD with insight on which demographics are being reached and what causes and organizations in the community need funding.


“Catchafire’s robust reporting provides us with specific, actionable information we can use to better serve nonprofits and communities in the Bay Area. Receiving metrics around how nonprofits use Catchafire, paired with an understanding of their focus and service to San Francisco’s low-income and historically underserved communities, helps us to shape a holistic approach to organizational health and development.”

Lex Leifheit
Senior Business Development Manager at OEWD



San Francisco Office of Economic and Workforce Development programs are responsible for strengthening San Francisco’s many diverse neighborhoods and commercial corridors, creating a business climate where companies can grow and prosper, and ensure a continually high quality of life for all San Franciscans. By providing one point of contact for a variety of essential City programs and services, it advances equitable and shared prosperity for San Franciscans: by growing sustainable jobs, supporting businesses of all sizes, creating great places to live and work, and helping everyone achieve economic self-sufficiency.

OEWD’s business development team helps industry clusters through direct assistance and policy solutions. Catchafire’s partnership with OEWD became even more critical with the onset of the pandemic and need for recovery. The pandemic elevated the exasperated disparity in communities as local nonprofits faced seismic shifts in community needs and funding. San Francisco is home to over 6,500 nonprofits committed to delivering critical programming and resources to support underserved populations in the Bay Area. On average, intensely constrained organizations use Catchafire the most; in San Francisco, the highest average dollar impact is recorded among nonprofits targeting communities affected by domestic abuse, chronic or terminal illness, currently or formerly incarcerated residents, mental illness, and people with disabilities. This illustrates a high need for funding and public policy aimed at supporting these communities.

Our data-driven approach allows our government partners to consider:

  • What programs should they be supporting and where can they be investing more money? What areas of the community can grow with their investment?
  • How can they design more culturally relevant programming?
  • How can this data inform policy?




Catchafire & OEWD are working hand-in hand to meet community needs

Asset 5.png



*Average dollar impact a San Francisco nonprofit receives from volunteers on Catchafire






If you’re a grantmaker and would like to learn more about equipping nonprofits in your community with responsive, high-quality operational support, let’s connect. Email us here.