BY KARA SHOEMAKER | August 14, 2020
Growing from a Field of Interest Fund held at the Santa Barbara Foundation, with only 67 members in 2004, to a nonprofit with over 1,100 members today, the Women’s Fund of Santa Barbara has come a long way and made a significant impact in our community. To date, the Women’s Fund has distributed nearly $7.9 million in grants that have impacted over 100,000 women, children, and families in southern Santa Barbara County.
“The Foundation was a valued partner when the Women’s Fund began, initially providing administrative support and serving as a financial home for us through 2019,” said Laurie Tumbler, Board Chair of the Women’s Fund. “Later, the Foundation provided funding for the legal support we needed to become an independent tax-exempt nonprofit.”
The Women’s Fund focuses on combining charitable dollars into significant grants, each ranging from $50,000 to over $100,000. “Each year we identify the critical needs in our community, and the nonprofits working to address those needs. We conduct our own thorough research, and then our members vote on the projects to fund. In 2019, we distributed nearly $700,000 in grants to 9 local agencies,” explained Tumbler.
Amazingly, the Women’s Fund is a volunteer-run organization, meaning that there is no paid staff. Members decide for themselves their level of involvement, which can range from simply making a donation and voting each year, to hands-on opportunities to contribute their time and talents.
“We welcome all women as voting members, regardless of their level of financial commitment,” added Tumbler. “We would be happy if every woman in the Santa Barbara area would join us in our philanthropic efforts. While we limit our voting membership to women, we definitely welcome donations from any community member or business that would like to participate with us in investing in helping our most vulnerable neighbors.”
Since its inception, many local philanthropists have joined the Women’s Fund collective donor group, and in 2012 the group established the Women’s Fund Endowment. This endowment, held at the Santa Barbara Foundation, enables the Women’s Fund to be supported in perpetuity and to have a greater impact within the community. The Santa Barbara Foundation contributed a $10,000 grant towards the establishment of the endowment.
The Foundation is proud to have assisted in the formation and growth of the Women’s Fund, and the two organizations remain strong community partners with many of the same priorities and focus areas.