One of three new responsive grants programs, Impact Grants are the Foundation’s largest grants program and the centerpiece of its new community investments and discretionary giving.
The Impact Grants program provides larger grants to support nonprofit efforts that have the most promise of “moving the needle” in the community. The grants focus on – but are not limited to – arts and culture, education and youth development, environment and economic development, health, human services, and civic engagement and aim to strengthen our county’s capacity to bring about and sustain “vibrant communities.” (Attachment A)
In addition to the Impact Grants, the Foundation’s new community investments program is an eco-system of strategic priorities that includes support for nonprofit excellence, leadership training, monthly “opportunity” grants for interim organizational needs, and long-term initiatives.
“Our revamped grantmaking program is more nimble and creative in its ability to address our county’s needs and expands our array of funding opportunities throughout the year,” said Ronald V. Gallo, President & CEO of the Santa Barbara Foundation. “The annual Impact Grants are bigger than before and concentrate on funding visionary thinking to address community issues and also encourage innovation, collaboration, and leadership development throughout the county.”
The Impact Grants review process was rigorous and involved many people – community leaders, expert volunteers, Foundation staff and Trustees, and senior representatives from other foundations – and included 12 county wide presentations and hundreds of hours of one-on-one meetings and site visits with nonprofits. Committee members carefully evaluated each nonprofit proposal in light of the Foundation’s larger strategy to identify areas of excellence, gaps in services, and positive, promising opportunities in our communities and countywide.
The resulting Impact Grants were made with significant funding by our three main investors and partners: the Orfalea Foundations, Hutton Foundation and the Cavaletto Charities. Each of the Impact Grants grantees were selected for their potential to advance the public good, show clear measurable results and stimulate collaboration in the sector that they lead. Organizational capacity to deliver and geographic diversity were also key considerations.
“We are proud to support the best of the best ideas submitted by nonprofits to create and maintain “vibrant communities.” At a time of continuing economic downturn and dwindling public resources, our support across the key issue areas has perhaps never been more important,” stated Gallo.
Overall in 2010, the Foundation’s new responsive grant program and nonprofit excellence work has benefited over 300 community organizations,
“Our community investments program will get more powerful and yield more impact in each succeeding year. We look forward to working closely with all these organizations, connecting them with impact grant recipients doing similar work, thus increasing the potential for positive impact,” added Ron Gallo. “This is a work in progress … we are learning, partnering, striving to make philanthropy work for everyone.”
Additional examples of the Santa Barbara Foundation’s 2010 philanthropic work include:
• Conference and Training Grants: A year long series of grants offering the opportunity for nonprofits to attend conferences and seminars to strengthen nonprofit leadership and organizational development.
• “Opportunity” Grants: Monthly grants that can be quickly made to support nonprofit infrastructure work and respond to immediate or unexpected needs.
• The Nonprofit Excellence Program: This leadership cultivation sent many executives to cutting edge retreats to ensure our nonprofits have the best tools, the best education and the benefit of the best thinking in nonprofit management
• Founding of a long-term collaboration on school readiness throughout the county, to ensure that kids are successful in the education system so that they have economic opportunity as adults.
• The Foundation also provides the administrative support to several strong community giving groups, including Social Venture Partners Santa Barbara, Women’s Fund of Santa Barbara, Women’s Fund of Northern Santa Barbara County, The Global Neighborhood Fund, the newly formed Corporate Philanthropy Roundtable. These groups collectively gave over $610,000 million back to the community in 2010 alone.
• Much of our overall funding is determined by the charitable interests of our donors. In fact, 70% of the grant dollars provided by the Foundation come from donor designated funds. In 2010, the Santa Barbara Foundation will distribute more than $20 million to hundreds of community organizations.
This mission of the Santa Barbara Foundation is to improve the quality of life by creating positive connections between philanthropy and nonprofits who serve our communities. Our goal is to ignite more philanthropy – so we have greater capacity to support nonprofits and their potential impact, for now and forever.