Frequently Asked Questions

Below is a list of frequently asked questions regarding Santa Barbara Foundation grant programs. If you do not find the answers you are looking for here, please feel free to contact a member of our Community Investments team.

General Questions

What makes my organization eligible for funding?

The Santa Barbara Foundation awards grants to organizations certified as tax exempt under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code that provide services to individuals in Santa Barbara County.

The foundation supports organizations that do not discriminate in their delivery of programs and services on the basis of race, color, religion, gender, national origin, ancestry, age, medical condition, disability, veteran status, marital status, sexual orientation, or any other characteristic protected by law. The foundation will consider projects of faith-based organizations, but those projects must be secular in nature and open to individuals of all faiths and/or those of no religious affiliation.

Am I eligible to apply if my organization does not have a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) status?

A non-501(c)(3) is eligible to apply under a fiscal agent with 501(c)(3) status. The sponsoring organization assumes fiscal responsibility for the grant. Through the application process, the foundation will request information and attachments from both your organization as well as the fiscal agent. In addition, organizations using a fiscal agent must submit a one-page letter signed by the fiscal agent's executive director signifying the intent to serve as such and describing the relationship between the two groups.

Are there things the foundation does not fund?

The foundation does not make grants for the following purposes or activities:
  • Debt
  • Endowment
  • Fundraising events
  • Individuals
  • Reimbursement for activities that occurred prior to the grant award date
  • Influencing legislation and/or elections (within the meaning of section 4945(d)(1) of the Internal Revenue Code); except as that activity may be related to the purpose of the grant, and permitted for 501(c)(3) organizations by applicable law or Internal Revenue Service regulations.

What are the available grant programs?

The foundation is pleased to offer a range of Community Grant Opportunities. Each grant program has a different purpose, application requirements, and deadlines. Please review the grant guidelines for each program prior to submitting a proposal.

Can my organization apply for funding from more than one Santa Barbara Foundation grants program in a calendar year?

Each program has its own eligibility requirements and guidelines. An organization can apply to any/all of the grant programs for which it is eligible. Additionally, organizations are eligible to receive multiple awards through participation in a collaborative and submitting a grant on behalf of the partners.

How does the foundation support collaboration?

The Santa Barbara Foundation knows true collaboration is difficult and wants to encourage organizations partnering with others to address critical community issues, without jeopardizing funding for their organization. An agency acting as the fiscal sponsor on behalf of a community collaborative that meets specific criteria may be eligible to submit proposals on behalf of its own agency needs as well as the needs of the collaborative. Please contact a member of the Community Investments team for more information and to discuss your specific situation.

Does the foundation support schools and other publicly supported organizations?

The foundation accepts applications from public entities such as schools, universities, and libraries through an affiliate or supporting 501(c)(3) organization. A qualifying agency has as its mission to secure private funds to augment public resources to enhance the programs and services of the governmental entity. Eligible requests are limited to activities outside the realm of the primary function/purpose of the government entity (as defined by what the general public views as the government entity’s primary function). Specifically,
  • Public schools qualify through a Public Education Foundation representing the district. Colleges and universities qualify through a supporting charitable foundation or regent. Preference is given to requests that encompass many schools and/or reach a larger public than the student population. One application can be submitted based on district/foundation priorities.
  • Public libraries qualify through the foundation or friends group associated with the main library. One application can be submitted on behalf of all of the branches within their jurisdiction based on priorities developed through input from all of the branches as to their funding needs.

What other programs and services does the foundation offer to nonprofits?

The foundation is committed to building a strong nonprofit sector. In addition to grantmaking, the foundation staff is available for consultation on community issues and ways the sector can identify and access resources to advance solutions. Additionally, the foundation's Philanthropic Services team can assist organizations in funds management, endowment building and planned giving. In some cases, the foundation acts as fiscal agent or sponsor for community projects or organizations waiting to receive exempt status.

Integral to the foundation's goal of supporting the sector is helping to build nonprofit board and staff leadership, and providing avenues for technical assistance on such critical topics as organizational development, fundraising, and strategic planning. The foundation partners with Leading from Within and The Fund for Santa Barbara to bring these high quality programs and services to the community. In addition, the foundation supports Santa Barbara's nonprofit digital hub, the Nonprofit Resource Network (NPRN) to ensure the sector can share and receive important timely information related to events, resources, jobs, and more. Our goal is to supplement these offerings with additional resources in the future. Please check our Nonprofit Excellence page often for more detailed information and opportunities.

Technical Questions

How do I submit an application?

The Santa Barbara Foundation now offers electronic applications for all of our grant programs. Visit our Grant Opportunities page to download the instructions and application for specific grant programs. Save the document to your computer before you begin to type. We suggest answering the questions in a Word document, then pasting your responses into the form. By using Word, you will be backing up your content by saving it in two places — Word and the application. Once complete, email your application and any requested attachments to the email address designated in the grant program instructions. Type your organization's name and grant type into the subject line of the email (e.g. My Nonprofit Express Grant Application). You will receive a confirmation email.

I prefer paper application forms to those that are online. Can I submit a paper copy instead?

The Santa Barbara Foundation requests electronic submissions as we seek to reduce processing time and assure that our records are up-to-date and accurate.

Here are a few notes that may address your concern. Our grant applications are in Adobe Reader format, a universal and free program. After you have downloaded the most recent version of Adobe Reader (found on our website with the application), use the "File Save As" feature to save the application to your local computer. If you are using a Mac product, please ensure you have downloaded Adobe Reader to your computer as Mac Preview is not compatible with Adobe Reader fillable forms.

When the application is saved to your computer, you may work on the application over an extended period of time, saving as you go. Once completed, you may send the application to the foundation as a regular attachment via email. If we have any trouble viewing your application materials, we will contact you.

I am having difficulty saving and/or typing in a Santa Barbara Foundation application. What is wrong?

First, ensure you have downloaded the free, updated Adobe Reader, available on our website on the same webpage you downloaded your application. If you have not done this, you are probably having trouble typing and saving your work. Second, make sure the fields in the application are highlighted in light blue. If you do not see light blue boxes throughout the application, look for the Highlight Fields button located at the top right of your application window. If you continue having trouble with any technical aspect of the application, please contact Sadye Terre, Special Projects Officer Community Investment, at (805) 963-1873 or

The application does not have enough room for the information I want to include. Can I submit additional information?

The applications are intentionally formatted to limit the amount of text and expanding the text boxes will result in unreadable content. It is our experience that organizations make the most effective, succinct, compelling statement within a limited space. In addition, to be fair to all applicants everyone is given the same space to make their case. Please do not submit materials other than those requested. For the larger grant programs, organizations that move forward to the interview/site visit stage will be invited to submit additional materials at that time. Thank you for your understanding.

Santa Barbara Foundation | 1111 Chapala Street, Suite 200, Santa Barbara, CA 93101
(805) 963-1873 |