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Eligibility Criteria & FAQs

Below is a list of frequently asked questions regarding Santa Barbara Foundation grant programs. If you have additional questions, please contact a member of our community investments team.

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 programs and services 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 sponsor 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 sponsor.

A 501(c)(3) organization that agrees to serve as a fiscal sponsor on a grant request must comply with the following list of responsibilities:

  1. Be the applicant of record.
  2. Enter into a letter agreement outlining and stipulating the terms of the relationship between the fiscal sponsor and the sponsored organization.
  3. Complete all required forms as part of the application process including a board roster and organizational financial summary, where applicable, for both the fiscal sponsor and the sponsored organization. These supplemental forms can be found here. A copy of the letter of agreement entered into with the sponsored organization is also required.
  4. Receive the funds from the foundation.
  5. Disburse the funds to the sponsored entity as warranted and agreed to by the terms of the letter of agreement between the fiscal sponsor and the sponsored organization.
  6. Maintain an accurate and up-to-date accounting of the income and expenditures for the project.
  7. Ensure that the required final report for the project is submitted to the foundation within the time period stipulated in the grant award letter.

What grant opportunities are available?

The foundation is pleased to offer a range of Community Grant Opportunities. The grant programs have different purposes, application requirements, and deadlines. Please review the grant guidelines for each program and initiative prior to submitting a proposal. You are also encouraged to contact foundation staff referenced in the guidelines for that program with questions or to discuss the specifics of your project before completing an application.

Can my organization apply to multiple grant programs 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.

Can my organization apply more than once to a specific grant program in a calendar year?

Most grant programs are offered only once per year. For programs with multiple deadlines such as Express, Capital Improvements, and LEAF, an agency may submit only one grant request per calendar year. The purpose of the multiple deadlines is to provide applicants with the flexibility to submit when a pressing need arises or the timing is advantageous to the project.

How does the foundation support collaboration?

The Santa Barbara Foundation knows true collaboration has challenges 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 circumstances.

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 will be considered for 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). In this way, foundation support is provided to enhance, not supplant, public funds. Specifically,
  • Public schools qualify through a Public Education Foundation representing the district. Colleges and universities qualify through a supporting charitable foundation or regent. Priority is given to requests that encompass many schools and/or reach a larger public than the student population. The qualifying organization can submit a single application per calendar year to any/all of the grant programs for which it is eligible. For K-12 schools, proposal decisions shall be based on priorities developed at the district level.
  • Public libraries qualify through a foundation or friends group representing all of the branches in a library district. Priority is given to requests that encompass multiple branches, serve high need communities, or help build the capacity of the entire library system. The qualifying organization can submit a single application per calendar year to any/all of the grant programs for which it is eligible. Proposal decisions shall be based on priorities developed through input from all of the branches as to their funding needs.

My organization has multiple sites or branches. Can I submit an application for each site?

An organization can submit a single application per calendar year to any/all of the grant programs for which it is eligible, regardless of its size or number of sites. Applications must be submitted by the parent organization and with the authorization of its executive director/CEO. Proposal decisions shall be based on priorities developed through input from all of the sites as to their funding needs and preference will be given to requests that encompass multiple sites or serve high need communities.

Does the foundation support matching grants?

While the foundation does not typically subject grants to matching requirements, we encourage grantees to leverage our funding whenever possible to secure additional dollars. In addition, if the proposed project has a matching/challenge opportunity from another funder, please include this information in your application for consideration.

Are there things the foundation does not fund?

Community grants are not awarded for the following purposes or activities:

  • Debt
  • Endowment
  • Fundraising events
  • One-time events, including recurring annual 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.

How do I check on the status of my request?

Please confirm that you have submitted your grant request to or through (for Express Grants only). After submitting to the correct email you will receive an automatic receipt - please retain this receipt for your records. Contact Deanna Vallejo if you do not receive a receipt as this means your application has not been received by the foundation and will not be considered.

Foundation grant programs have review periods that range from six to sixteen weeks, per the award dates listed in the grant guidelines. Applicants will be notified of funding decisions by mail. Please allow time for our review and decision-making process and contact a member of the community investment team with questions.

What are the reporting requirements if my organization receives a grant?

Grantees are required to submit a final grant report providing information about the project and a financial accounting for the use of funds. This report, submitted electronically, is due within 13 months of the grant award date, preferably no later than 30 days following the project completion (refer to your grant award letter for the report due date). Report forms are located on the foundation's website.

If you need additional time to complete the project, please consult with the appropriate Community Investment Officer for approval and additional instructions. Failure to complete the required reporting will be a factor when being considering for future funding.

If successful, how would the foundation like us to acknowledge the grant?

As a partner in your efforts, the foundation is pleased to be acknowledged in any communication materials related to the grant activity. If you choose to use the Santa Barbara Foundation logo on any printed or online material, please refer to our press and media resources page. Please contact Tara Schoenborn, communications officer, for any additional communications or press related inquiries.

How do I learn about past grants awarded by the foundation?

Lists of community grants awarded in the past five years can be found on the foundation’s website.

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 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.
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