Supporting and Empowering Women in Philanthropy

Jessica Sanchez, Senior Donor Relations Officer at the Santa Barbara Foundation, talking to Karen Evenden, founder of the Ojai Women's Fund at the AFP Women in Philanthropy lunch.

Women are responsible for 86% of household’s consumer purchasing decisions. Women control 51% of personal wealth in the United States. Women are primary breadwinners in 40% of households and hold almost 52% of all management and professional level jobs.* With percentages like these only increasing, women are not just a niche market - they are the market. This growing transfer of wealth from men to women is exactly why women’s philanthropy is important to the future of philanthropy, and the Santa Barbara Foundation is proud to be at the forefront of empowering women to make a difference.

“In 2004, the Santa Barbara Foundation offered the fledgling Women's Fund of Santa Barbara a fiscal home from which to launch the new organization,” said Nancy Harter, Steering Co-Chair of the Women’s Fund for Santa Barbara. “In the early years, the foundation’s expertise, guidance and administrative support provided a solid footing for us to grow and, today, the foundation remains a valued partner - we could not accomplish as much as we do without the Santa Barbara Foundation.”

Women’s funds and giving circles are one of the fastest growing ways that women are engaging in philanthropy. By definition, a women’s fund is a collective donor group that enables women to combine their charitable dollars and provide grants focused on the critical needs of the community. Since the early 2000s, the Santa Barbara Foundation has handled the finances for three different women’s funds, including The Women’s Fund of Santa Barbara, The Women’s Fund of Northern Santa Barbara County and the recently formed Ojai Women’s Fund. As field of interest funds, the foundation helps these groups manage donations and distribute grants out into the community.

“I am grateful to be here and see what happens when smart, strong women come together to facilitate social change,” said Charles Andersen, Executive Director of Domestic Violence Solutions for Santa Barbara County at the Women’s Fund for Santa Barbara presentation of grants on May 8. In addition to granting $55,000 to Domestic Violence Solutions for the 2016-2017 cycle, The Women’s Fund for Santa Barbara distributed a total of $485,000 during the presentation of grants to Accelerated Reader Program ($20,000); AHA! ($70,000); Casa Pacifica ($75,000); Channel Island YMCA, Noah’s Anchorage ($65,000); PEAC ($75,000); Peoples’ Self-Help Housing ($60,000); and St. Vincent’s ($60,000).

Also on May 8, the Ojai Women’s Fund held a convening to discuss how to continue to make meaningful philanthropic contributions that will support women in addition to its 2016 grants totaling $60,000 to Ojai Youth Opera, Girls Empowerment Workshop, Once Upon A Watershed, Livingston Memorial Visiting Nurses Association, Nan Tolbert Nurturing Center and Reins of H.O.P.E.

“There is so much power in joining together in collective giving,” said Karen Evenden, Co-founder of the Ojai Women’s Fund while on a panel at an Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) “Women in Philanthropy” luncheon on May 10. “A group can make a much bigger impact than an individual, create a wider range of funding options and help women learn how to give back to their community together.”

At the AFP luncheon, Evenden was on a panel with three other women engaged in philanthropy, Crystal Wyatt, Dina Furash and Betsey Blanchard Chess. They spoke about the role philanthropy has played in their lives, why they believe women’s philanthropy is important and what memorable philanthropic experiences they have had.

“I think what makes women’s philanthropy different is that we have a desire to not only give our money to the organizations that we care about, but also give our time,” sad Wyatt. “We are more collaborative and hands-on than men and use more of our social influence instead of just our dollars.”

The moderator of the panel, the Santa Barbara Foundation’s Chief Philanthropic Officer, Senior Vice President and lifelong philanthropist, Jan Campbell, joined the panelists in sharing anecdotes. She highlighted that one of her favorite philanthropic moments has been her engagement in strengthening women in philanthropy.

“In all my years in philanthropy, my most memorable gift to a cause or organization that I care about is when, as the Chief Philanthropic Officer of the Santa Barbara Foundation, I helped organize a convening of six women’s funds throughout the region to discuss our accomplishments in philanthropy and how we can work together to do more,” said Campbell. “The pure sense of joy and hope I felt that day was for the possibility that, maybe, as women are more empowered in philanthropy, we will become more empowered in other ways and we will see a real societal difference.”

As women’s influence in philanthropy continues to grow, the Santa Barbara Foundation is dedicated to supporting and fostering their efforts to build a stronger Santa Barbara County and a community of educated, strategic givers. To learn more about the women’s funds supported by the Santa Barbara Foundation, visit the collective giving web page or contact Jan Campbell, Chief Philanthropic Officer and Senior Vice President at To learn more about the Santa Barbara/Ventura County AFP events, for which the Santa Barbara Foundation is a sponsor, please visit the AFP website.

*Statistics from 2016 in Angela E. White, CFRE, Senior Consultant and CEO, Johnson, Grossnickle and Associates article found here.
North County Headquarters:  (805) 346-6123  |   2625 S. Miller Street, Suite 101, Santa Maria, CA 93455
South County Headquarters:  (805) 963-1873  |  1111 Chapala Street, Suite 200, Santa Barbara, CA 93101