BY KARA SHOEMAKER | May 29, 2020
As world travelers who have lived in Europe and various cities across the US, philanthropists Dale Zurawski and Geoffrey Slaff always knew they would end up in Santa Barbara. The couple moved here 20 years ago, when Dale was accepted to an MBA program in Environmental Management at UCSB, and they have lived here ever since.
“We first became interested in philanthropy when we were living in Colorado. My husband worked in pharmaceuticals and his company was giving stock options. We had just had our first baby, and we were sitting on stock. Ninety-nine percent of our net worth was in stock, so I started investing in real estate in Boulder,” recalled Dale.
Even though Dale and Geoffrey both worked, they decided to live off one salary and save the rest. By living frugally, investing in real estate and hiring a financial advisor, they were able to build enough wealth to start giving back. “When you are fortunate enough, through hard work or luck, that you end up with a pile of money, it’s not that hard to start giving,” says Dale.
While they found great joy in philanthropy, Dale and Geoffrey became tired of the yearly discussion about which organization to support and how much they would give – Dale describes her husband as being more liberal, and herself as being more practical. By the time they made the move to Santa Barbara, they decided to support three areas that they could both agree on: women’s health, the environment, and early education.
To make the process easier on themselves and their accountant, they set up a donor advised fund (DAF) with the Santa Barbara Foundation. “Setting up [a DAF] with the Foundation was very easy, and we continue to give stock. Plus SBF makes tracking for tax purposes so simple,” added Dale. “Our taxes are close to 50 percent, so you want to get that credit for donations.”
“Everyone knows the Santa Barbara Foundation – our accountant, our financial advisor, the property manager all probably know them. The Foundation is established and very trusted within the Santa Barbara community and everyone we deal with professionally. For me, it means I don’t have to worry about things like fraud, or the company going under, or nonprofits that aren’t reputable. The Santa Barbara Foundation has been wonderful! I think we will be with the SBF forever.”
Giving through the Foundation also allowed Dale and Geoffrey the flexibility to give to unexpected philanthropic opportunities that might fall outside their three core areas of interest. For example, they were proud supporters of the Olive Mill Walking Trail project in Montecito, which was completed in April 2020.
“Outside the dollars and cents, by giving, you get so much back in good will, in good feeling, in karma and in your relationships with people,” said Dale. “My husband and I donated to the Olive Mill Trail project, and now families and community members can safely walk down that new path. For us, it’s a legacy.”
Dale and Geoffrey have also supported the COVID-19 Joint Response Effort for Santa Barbara County.
For those considering opening a donor advised fund, Dale shared the following. “I think if you look around and realize how fortunate you are, and you open up an account with the Santa Barbara Foundation, you will find a reward in whatever donation you can make. SBF takes all the work out of it, so it’s a win-win situation. For us, it’s been nothing but positive.”
The Santa Barbara Foundation thanks Dale Zurawski and Geoffrey Slaff for their continued support of our community. If you are a donor or fundholder with the Santa Barbara Foundation and would like to share what inspires you to give back, please reach out to Katherine Sanders, Communications Manager, at ksanders@SBFoundation.org.