Small Capacity Building Grant Program Guidelines

For all Santa Barbara County Communities


What is the Small Capacity Building Grant Program?

The Small Capacity Building Grant Program awards grants with a short review period aimed at strengthening the organizational capacity and effectiveness of Santa Barbara County nonprofits. The Foundation believes organizations are more effective when they are equipped with thoughtful strategy, strong leadership, sound operations and compelling communication. It is our hope that this funding helps organizations strengthen these fundamentals in support of their mission and better programmatic outcomes. The Foundation may also consider funding small capital expenditures. To provide flexibility and assist applicants in their planning, the Foundation offers ten opportunities through November to apply. Organizations may submit one Small Capacity Building Grant application per calendar year.

Small Capacity Building Grants are very competitive. The Foundation receives many more requests than it can fund. Proposals with the best chance of being funded clearly state the need, readiness, and commitment to the project.

Please see the application deadlines below.

2024 Small Capacity Building Grant Deadlines:
February 13 | April 9 | June 11 | August 13 | October 8

Funding Amounts and Duration

The maximum award for Small Capacity Building Grant is $6,000. The grant period is up to one year from the award date. A final report is required and due within 13 months of the grant award, preferably no later than 30 days following the project completion.

 Types of Support

The Santa Barbara Foundation has established the following guidelines for its Small Capacity Building grants in the following areas.

  • Organizational development and capacity building (i.e. campaign feasibility studies, strategic planning, succession planning, program evaluation, exploratory strategic alliances/collaborations, emergency/business continuity planning)
  • Staff, board, or volunteer training and development as well as collaborative learning opportunities
  • Small capital items and equipment that specifically allow your staff to serve clients and fulfill its mission
  • Defined projects such as program design/piloting as well as strategic marketing, communications or development plans.
    NOTE: While consulting services, project oversight and other costs related to the proposed project are welcome, these small grants are not intended to support staff salaries/positions. (e.g. hiring a development director, covering staff hours to attend meetings, etc.) Please contact SBF staff if you would like further clarification. 

Grant Limitations

Small Capacity Building Grants are NOT made for:

  • Multiple projects within a single application
  • General operating support (staff salaries, rent, utilities, etc.)
  • Program expansion or support for existing programs
  • Fundraising events
  • Endowment funds
  • Reimbursement of expenses already expended
  • One-time events, including recurring annual events (other than collaborative learning opportunities)
  • Tuition requests for Leading From Within programs (The foundation directly supports scholarship opportunities through its partnership with Leading From Within.)

Please visit the Eligibility Criteria & FAQs for a complete list of what the foundation does not fund.

Eligibility Requirements

  • Organizations must be certified as tax exempt under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code or use a fiscal sponsor with 501(c)(3) tax status. Applications that do not contain a valid EIN (tax ID) number will not be considered. Organizations using a fiscal sponsor must review the Eligibility Criteria & FAQs for additional information and instructions.
  • The foundation accepts applications from public entities such as schools, universities, and libraries through an affiliate or supporting 501(c)(3) organization. Please see the Eligibility Criteria & FAQs for additional qualifying information and instructions.
  • An agency acting as the fiscal sponsor on behalf of a community collaborative may be eligible to submit proposals on behalf of its own agency needs as well as the needs of the collaborative. Please contact Maria Caudillo, Community Engagement Coordinator, at for more information and to discuss your specific situation.
  • A fiscal sponsor may submit one application on behalf of their organization and one application acting as a fiscal sponsor per grant program in a calendar year.
  • Small Capacity Grants are available for organizations serving all regions of Santa Barbara County.

Application Process

The  Small Capacity Building Grant program  utilizes an online application. Please follow the instructions below to access, complete and submit your application to the foundation.

  • The Santa Barbara Foundation has switched their grants management system to SmartSimple. Please follow the instructions below on accessing, completing, and submitting your application to the foundation.

To Access the SmartSimple Platform

  1. Visit the Santa Barbara Foundations online platform
  2. On the Santa Barbara Foundation SmartSimple platform landing page, on the bottom right please click on “Register.”
    You will be asked to choose from 3 different entities:

    • Nonprofit
    • Fiscally Sponsored Entity
    • For Profit
  3. After identifying which entity fits your organization you will be asked to provide some general information about yourself and your organization (If your organization is not found please use the “click here to add a new organization” link in the instruction box to add manually).
  4. The initial staff contact is the first authorized representative to register and associate their profile account on behalf of an organization. This individual will also be responsible for providing accurate information in the organization profile and updating this information annually. They will also receive email notifications from the platform. Additional organizational contacts can also register and access applications on behalf of an organization already in the system. These additional users will follow the same registration process as the initial organization contact. The system will conduct a duplicate check and associate the user with the existing organization.
  5. You will receive a welcome email confirming that your registration is active. Please click the link included in the email to create a password. After creating your password, you can now access the platform to establish your Organization Profile.
  6. On the top righthand corner you will see the initial of your first name that you registered under. Please click there and a drop-down menu will open. Please select “Organization Profile.” You will be directed to a page with four separate tabs, General, Organization Information, Capacity Building, and Board Information. You will need to answer all mandatory fields in order to access the available grant applications on the platform.

PLEASE NOTE: Once an organization is registered and a profile has been created for a fiscally sponsored organization, please allow up to 24 hours (one business day) for approval to access available applications in the platform.


Submitting your Application

Once you have completed your Organization Profile, please return to the “Home” page. There you will see “Funding Opportunities.” Please locate the appropriate grant opportunity and fill in all mandatory fields. Please adhere to the following instructions to ensure a successful submittal:

    1. The RFQ and available applications will be accepted only through the online platform. Paper applications will not be accepted.
    2.  To submit the completed SCBG grant application simply hit the “Submit” option at the bottom of the page.
    3.  You will receive an automatic email when your grant application has been received. Please retain this receipt for your files.

Submittal Procedures

  1. Applications will be accepted only through the online process. Paper applications will not be accepted.
  2. To submit the completed and saved application, while on the “Submit” page, click the “I agree” box under Proposal Authorization. A “Submit” button will appear at the bottom of the page for you to click. If you attempt to submit the application with any errors you will receive a “validation” box listing the errors. Once the errors have been corrected, you may resubmit the application. Please note, some questions have character counts (indicated beneath the question). While you will be able to continue entering text beyond these character counts, you will not be able to submit your application. Please ensure you do not exceed the character count in order to successfully submit your application.

You will receive an automatic email when your grant application has been received. Please retain this receipt for your files.

We Recommend

  1. Put forward your most pressing and compelling project within the guidelines above. If you have questions about the suitability of your proposal prior to drafting your application, we encourage you to contact Maria Caudillo, Community Engagement Coordinator, at
  2. Review your budget. A thoughtfully prepared budget demonstrates you have considered all of the costs associated with the proposed project as well as the resources needed to ensure the project’s success.
  3. Supporting documentation. Materials that applicants provide will assist in substantiating the funding request in relation to the project budget.
    Examples of Supporting Document(s):
  • Consultant/vendor proposal, the scope of work, or estimate
  • Draft framework, draft strategic plan, timeline, RFQ
  • MOU, partnership agreement, needs assessment
  • Equipment replacement plan and/or pricing documentation
  • Other (please contact us to discuss)

Important Deadline Information
Organizations are invited to submit an application at any time. Applications received after the deadline will be considered the following month, with the exception of October, which is the final deadline of the year. Grant decisions will be made within eight weeks following the deadline.

2024 Small Capacity Building Grant Deadlines:
February 13 | April 9 | June 11 | August 13 | October 8

Contact Information
For questions about the Small Capacity Building Grant program, please contact Maria Caudillo, Community Engagement Coordinator, at