Monday, September 14, 2015

5 Ways the Fund for Santa Barbara Works for Change

“Change, not Charity” defines the Fund for Santa Barbara’s approach to grant-making. Founded in 1980, the nonprofit, community foundation believes that solutions for community problems are most effective when they come from the community itself.

Appropriately, the members of the Fund for Santa Barbara Grant-Making Committee come from within the community, usually spending a few years helping choose which grants to fund and then returning to their work in the area. Because of the rotating nature of the committee’s composition, the group remains deeply connected to the Santa Barbara region’s true needs.

To create political, economic, environmental, and social change, the Fund for Santa Barbara offers the following 5 programs:

1) Grant-Making

Most grants are seed grants that provide new nonprofits with enough money to begin implementing their programs. In addition to funding start-up organizations, the Fund provides grants for general, operational assistance to established, small nonprofits. It also makes target-specific grants to larger organizations.

The Fund provided $19,500 in grants during its first year of operation, with each grant maxing out at $2,000. Today, the maximum grant amount is $10,000, and the Fund awards more than $200,000 in grants annually. Since 1980, the Fund has distributed more than $5 million to over 900 grantees.

2) Bread and Roses

The Bread and Roses auction and dinner raises a fourth of the money needed for the Fund’s grant-making and technical assistance programs. The event takes its name from a quote by prominent labor leader and feminist Rose Schneiderman. During a textile workers’ strike in Lawrence, Massachusetts, in 1912, she was noted for saying, “the worker must have bread, but she must have roses, too.” Members of the Fund for Santa Barbara interpret the “bread” as a living wage and believe the “roses” represent dignity and respect.

More than 25 restaurants, caterers, wineries, and breweries contribute to create the Bread and Roses buffet-style dinner that is now the largest progressive fundraiser in Santa Barbara County, attracting more than 400 guests. Both live and silent auctions contribute to the fundraising effort.

3) Technical Assistance

Grassroots organizations often start with a great idea but have little practical experience in starting and running a nonprofit. To help these groups, the Fund staffs a technical assistance skills-building program that provides the following:

* Grant-writing help—Applicants can submit the grant application draft for a pre-proposal review to receive hints on how to improve the likelihood of acceptance. Twice a year, the Fund offers public workshops on the application process and how to write an effective grant.

* Consulting—This umbrella program teaches a host of how-to’s for grassroots groups, including how to run a community organization, start a nonprofit, develop a working board, facilitate retreats, fundraise, and lobby. Strategic planning, financial management, business resources, and program design help are also available.

* Networking— The offices of the Fund act as a networking center, providing opportunities for activists and organizations to learn about each other.

* Collaboration—The Fund meets monthly with the Foundation Roundtable, a group of 30 local foundation representatives, to share ideas and plan the yearly Partnership for Excellence Conference, which brings together nonprofits and funding organizations for discussions and informational sessions.

4) Youth Making Change

With its Youth Making Change (YMC) program, the Fund hands over the grant-making responsibility to area teens. Two YMC boards, one in Santa Maria and one in Santa Barbara, each award $15,000 in grants to projects led by youth ages 12 to 24. These YMC boards conduct an entire grant cycle with the aid of two youth facilitators who previously served on YMC boards.

In operation since 2008, the YMC program has made grants totaling $157,500 to 90 youth-led groups, giving up to $3,000 per project. Applicants must try to fix a problem that affects youth in the community. The Fund also offers a workshop for YMC grant-writing.

5) Social Justice Award

Since 2000, the Fund for Santa Barbara has partnered with the Santa Barbara International Film Festival to award a Social Justice Award for Documentary films. The 2015 winner of the award was “A Snake Gives Birth to a Snake,” which followed a group of South African actors who brought their country’s story of reconciliation to other war-torn regions.

Previous Social Justice Award winners include Through A Lens Darkly: Black Photographers and the Emergence of a People, Revolution, and When I Rise.