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Public Financing Program

Important Notice for Candidates for Offices of Mayor, Sheriff, District Attorney, City Attorney, and Treasurer

On November 8, 2022, San Francisco voters approved Proposition H, which changed the election cycle for Mayor, Sheriff, District Attorney, City Attorney, and Treasurer from odd-numbered years to even-numbered years concurrent with presidential elections. Proposition H also moved the election scheduled for these offices to be held on November 7, 2023, to November 5, 2024. This change potentially impacts candidates for these offices and their committees, particularly those who had already formed their committees and those seeking or planning to seek public financing. The notice posted below seeks to provide guidance to candidate campaigns on the potential impact of Proposition H and what steps they should take.

About the Public Financing Program

Program Overview

The San Francisco Ethics Commission administers a limited public campaign financing program for candidates running for Mayor or Supervisor. Under the program, candidates for the Office of Mayor who qualify and meet program eligibility requirements may receive up to $1,200,000 in public funds ($1,185,500 for incumbent candidates).  Candidates for the Board of Supervisors may receive up to $255,000 in public funds ($252,000 for incumbent candidates). 

The public campaign financing program serves many important public policy goals. The program seeks to ensure that candidates with a demonstrated level of community support can secure sufficient resources to mount a viable campaign. In doing so, public financing reduces candidates’ dependence on large private contributions, which lessens the potential for and appearance of undue influence by contributors and serves to improve the public’s trust in local government. Public financing also seeks to enable candidates to spend less time fundraising and more time interacting with voters and engaging in discussions on important issues. The availability of public funds also encourages citizens to be more politically active by incentivizing and empowering small-dollar contributions. By supporting candidates who have community support, public financing can also lead to more competitive races, which is important in ensuring quality representation of constituents.

Eligibility

To participate in the public financing program, interested candidates must first meet all qualification requirements of the Department of Elections to appear on the ballot. Candidates who qualify to appear on the ballot must also meet the following program eligibility requirements:

  • Raise a minimum number and total dollar amount of contributions from San Francisco residents: A non-incumbent Supervisorial candidate is required to raise qualifying contributions totaling at least $10,000 from at least 100 contributors, while an incumbent Supervisorial candidate is required to raise qualifying contributions totaling at least $15,000 from at least 150 contributors. A non-incumbent Mayoral candidate is required to raise qualifying contributions totaling at least $50,000 from at least 500 contributors, while an incumbent Mayoral candidate is required to raise qualifying contributions totaling at least $75,000 from at least 750 contributors. Only contributions between $10 and $100 count as qualifying contributions. These qualifying contributions must be received by the candidate no earlier than 18 months before the date of the election and no later than the 70th day before the election.

  • Be opposed by a candidate who receives contributions or makes expenditures over a minimum amount: Supervisorial candidates must be opposed by a candidate who raises or spends at least $10,000. Mayoral candidates must be opposed by a candidate who raises or spends at least $50,000.

  • Adhere to campaign spending limits: Candidates must adhere to campaign spending limits (Individual Expenditure Ceiling, or “IEC”) which may be adjusted. The initial IEC for Supervisorial candidates is $350,000.  The initial IEC for Mayoral candidates is $1.7 million. Based on financial activity in a candidate’s race, the candidate’s spending limit (or Individual Expenditure Ceiling, “IEC”) shall be raised by the Ethics Commission. This provision intends for candidates who are bound by a spending limit to have the ability to respond when independent expenditures and opponent fundraising exceed the candidate’s initial IEC. Three factors are assessed to determine if an increase to a candidate’s IEC is warranted: (1) contributions received by the candidate’s opponents, (2) independent expenditures in support of the candidate’s opponents, and (3) independent expenditures in opposition of the candidate. A Supervisorial candidate’s IEC is adjusted in increments of $50,000, and a Mayoral candidate’s IEC is adjusted in increments of $250,000. Spending limits are regularly reviewed by Commission staff and adjusted on a candidate-by-candidate basis. It is therefore possible for candidates in the same race to have different IEC limits or to have their IEC adjusted at different times/intervals.

In addition to the requirements above, candidates must not accept loans from others, abide by limits on the amount of funds they loan/donate to their own campaign, agree to debate their opponents, and are subject to mandatory audit. Candidates, committee treasurers, and committee officers participating in the public financing program are responsible for understanding and complying with all eligibility requirements.

Candidate Disbursements

Once certified as eligible for the program, candidates receive an initial grant. Supervisorial candidates receive an initial grant of $60,000. Mayoral candidates receive an initial grant of $300,000. After receiving the initial grant, candidates may receive matching funds distributed at a six-to-one ratio for every dollar of contributions received up to $150 from any single contributor. Non-incumbent Supervisorial candidates can have up to $32,500 in private contributions matched (for a maximum of $255,000 of public financing), while incumbent Supervisorial candidates can have up to $32,000 in contributions matched (for a maximum of $252,000 of public financing). Non-incumbent Mayoral candidates can have up to $150,000 in private contributions matched (for a maximum of $1,200,000 of public financing), while incumbent Mayoral candidates can have up to $147,500 in contributions matched (for a maximum of $1,185,000 of public financing). The tables below summarize the potential disbursements.

Maximum Allowable Funds: Candidates for Board of Supervisors
Private Funds Raised
(Non-Incumbents)
Potential Public FundsPrivate Funds Raised
(Incumbents)
Potential Public Funds
Initial Grant$10,000$60,000$15,000$60,000
1:6 Match$32,500$195,000$32,000$192,000
Total$42,500$255,000$47,000$252,000
Maximum Allowable Funds: Candidates for Mayor
Private Funds Raised
(Non-Incumbents)
Potential Public FundsPrivate Funds Raised
(Incumbents)
Potential Public Funds
Initial Grant$50,000$300,000$75,000$300,000
1:6 Match$150,000$900,000$147,500$885,000
Total$200,000$1,200,000$222,500$1,185,000

Important Dates for Candidates Seeking Public Financing 

The below dates are important for candidates seeking public financing in the November 5, 2024, election.

ActionApplicable Dates
File Statement of Participation – Form SFEC-142(a)By Friday, June 14, 2024*
Receive Eligible Qualifying ContributionsFriday, May 5, 2023 – Tuesday, August 27, 2024

FOR MAYORAL CANDIDATES ONLY:  
Saturday, May 7, 2022 – Thursday, December 1, 2022 
or
Friday, May 5, 2023 – Tuesday, August 27, 2024
File (or Refile) Qualifying Request – Form SFEC-142(b)Monday, February 5, 2024 – Tuesday, August 27, 2024
Disburse Public FundsNo earlier than Monday, June 17, 2024
Resubmit Qualifying Request – Form SFEC-142(b)By Friday, September 6, 2024
Certify Candidate Eligibility By Wednesday, September 11, 2024
Submit Matching Requests -Form SFEC-144(c)/144(d)By Thursday, December 5, 2024, 5:00 p.m.
*Note: This date may be adjusted to match any changes to the nomination period made by the Department of Elections.

Additional Information & Resources

Additional information about the public financing program and requirements is available at the resources below.

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