Santa Barbara Foundation

4 survey respondents

Location: 1111 Chapala St Ste 200, Santa Barbara, 93101 CA

EIN: 95-1866094

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How many hours did the grant application process take?

2 hours




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How successfully do you think the funder is accomplishing its current philanthropic goals?

Important Information

2017 Deadlines:

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Top descriptors for this funder

3Difficult to work with3Doesn't "get" nonprofits and issues2Bureaucratic2Inadvertently exerts negative influence in the field1Culturally incompetent1Risk averse

Advice from a Friend

Santa Barbara Foundation

Feb 27, 2019

Did not apply

Be careful working with this Foundation. Some of them questioned grantees with what felt to me with unnecessary disrespect. Then, one person working there didn’t even acknowledge a grantee I was talking with, but acknowledged me. Is it because I am a donor? Ugly attitude. I’m limiting my support of them because of it. Wish I knew her name.


Inadvertently exerts negative influence in the field, Doesn't "get" nonprofits and issues, Difficult to work with

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Response from Santa Barbara Foundation

Mar 15, 2019

Thank you for sharing these comments. As the largest community foundation in the region, we are continually in contact with thousands of individuals and hundreds of organizations. We make every attempt to get to know our constituencies in every community throughout Santa Barbara County. We wish every face was familiar, but with hiring our own new staff and the staff of other organizations consistently evolving, it's difficult for us to know everyone by name. We hope that our donors and partner organizations are always open to facilitating introductions so that we can continue to build new friendships.

Feb 23, 2019

Grant Applicant - applied in 2018

Some senior staff member questioned details about our application which were very nitpicky and made no impact in the long run except to give us fewer dollars and strained relations. Some people have quit the foundation now because the work culture is toxic


Doesn't "get" nonprofits and issues, Difficult to work with, Bureaucratic, Risk averse

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Response from Santa Barbara Foundation

Mar 15, 2019

Thank you for your feedback. We are always appreciative when an organization shares their experience with us so that we can understand better how our processes can be improved.

As a community foundation, we work hard to serve all of our communities in the region and support as many nonprofits as we can with our discretionary funding. Of the $26.2 million that we distributed in grants to over 900 nonprofits in 2017, only $7.8 million was discretionary. This, unfortunately, means that our grant programs are extremely competitive. We regularly receive more than double the number of grant applications than we have the resources to financially support.

In 2019, we have a new Director of Grantmaking that has worked to refine our processes. This included feedback from grantee focus groups to help improve our grant application - of which many elements that were shared have since been implemented. It has also included the development of new tools for our vetting and due diligence processes that will make it easier for us to share feedback on your application in a way that will be more helpful. Lastly, we have re-instated our robust, community-forward Grants Committees that reflect issue-based knowledge and expertise providing valuable insight into our decision-making processes.

Feb 23, 2019

Professional in the field

There’s been so much turnover on the staff something is wrong. There is also a lack of communication about how and what they are funding. I don’t trust the executive and his senior team. One member is actually nasty and makes it so I suggest to my fellow donors they look for alternative places to invest.


Inadvertently exerts negative influence in the field, Doesn't "get" nonprofits and issues, Difficult to work with, Culturally incompetent, Bureaucratic

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Response from Santa Barbara Foundation

Mar 15, 2019

We are grateful for your insight and are committed to strengthening our pathways of communication as well as increasing transparency in all that we do. The Santa Barbara Foundation has been in a comprehensive, eighteen-month strategic planning process that culminated in October 2018 with the launch of our five-year priorities in support of vulnerable populations and working families in Santa Barbara County.

During this process, we went deep into our communities and engaged with all of our constituencies to understand better the perception of the foundation and our impact throughout the region. We heard really great things about our due diligence, reputation and history of philanthropy, but we also heard some really tough things that we are working everyday now to improve. As with any introspective, rigorous process and the resulting shift in our business model as well as grantmaking priorities, we have experienced turnover in our staff. The current leadership team is prioritizing a healthy, inclusive and diverse culture starting with new organizational guiding principles that emphasize accountability, respect, learning, empathy and transparency.

Jul 13, 2017

Reviewer 407 - Grant Applicant - applied in 2017

Best to call first and talk to your representative about your fundability, read the grants they offer on their website. We were turned down for a number of years before they accepted us. They did not feel we had a program that met their programs or criteria til we needed to do a transition with our ED.They have staff that can assist you, but we have followed their advice a few years back and even tho the staff assured us this was what would work. They also work with Designated Funds that are accessible only by owners of the funds. You have to go through the owners. We received a grant through a Designated Fund. They put a lot of money into Santa Barbara organizations, mostly the larger and more long standing non profits.

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Response from Santa Barbara Foundation

Mar 15, 2019

Thank you for your thoughtful review. We appreciate any and all feedback to be a better, more responsive organization. Our grant opportunities and guidelines are updated and refined every year. We encourage direct engagement with our team so we are grateful that you've been in dialogue with us.

In October 2018, we published our five-year strategic planning priorities in support of vulnerable populations and working families in Santa Barbara County. This will facilitate more consistency in our grant programs and funding opportunities. We also appreciate your note regarding our discretionary funding (through our grant programs) and our non-discretionary funding through our Donor Advised Funds. Most of our funds are restricted and donors work with the Santa Barbara Foundation to give to organizations and issues that they are passionate about, but this is also why we want to be familiar with all organizations in our region so that we can engage new donors and keep our existing donors informed of your activities.

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