Small Capacity Building Grant Program Guidelines

For all Santa Barbara County Communities


What is the Small Capacity Building Grant Program?

The Small Capacity Building Grant Program awards grants with a short review period aimed at strengthening the organizational capacity and programmatic effectiveness of Santa Barbara County nonprofits. The Foundation believes organizations are more effective when they are equipped with thoughtful strategy, strong leadership, sound operations and compelling communication. It is our hope that this funding helps organizations strengthen these fundamentals in support of their mission and better programmatic outcomes. The Foundation may also consider funding small capital expenditures. To provide flexibility and assist applicants in their planning, the Foundation offers ten opportunities through November to apply. Organizations may submit one Small Capacity Building Grant application during this time period. Please see the application deadlines below.


Types of Support

The Santa Barbara Foundation recognizes that non-profits needs have had to dramatically shift in how they serve their clients due to the COVID-19 outbreak across our state and country. To better equip agencies to both maintain social distancing and assure the health and safety of their employees, the Santa Barbara Foundation has established the following guidelines for its Small Capacity Building grants in the following areas.

  • Defined projects that allow the agency to equip its workforce to either work remotely and/or serve its clients remotely through phone, online video or other means
  • Small capital items and equipment that specifically allow your staff to serve clients and fulfill its mission
  • Organizational development and capacity building
  • Staff or board training and development

NOTE: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic we are prioritizing proposals that take into account the pandemic and its impact on your agency achieving its mission. COVID-19 related capital item requests may include (but are not limited to): reusable Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) such as face shields, sneeze guards, and other items needed to retrofit work environments. Requests will NOT be considered for single-use/disposable PPE or cleaning/sanitizing supplies.

If you have questions about the suitability of your proposal, please contact Gary Clark, Director of the Collaboration for Social Impact, at (805) 963-1873 or


Funding Amounts and Duration

The maximum award for Small Capacity Building Grant is $5,000. The grant period is up to one year from the award date. A final report is required and is due within 13 months of the grant award, preferably no later than 30 days following the project completion.


Grant Limitations

Small Capacity Building Grants are NOT made for:

  • General operating support
  • Program expansion or support for existing programs
  • Fundraising events
  • Endowment funds
  • Reimbursement of expenses already expended
  • One-time events, including recurring annual events (other than collaborative learning opportunities)
  • Tuition requests for Leading From Within programs (The foundation directly supports scholarship
    opportunities through its partnership with Leading From Within.)

Please visit the Eligibility Criteria & FAQs for a complete list of what the foundation does not fund.


Eligibility Requirements

  • Organizations must be certified as tax exempt under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code or use a fiscal sponsor with 501(c)(3) tax status. Applications that do not contain a valid EIN (tax ID) number will not be considered. Organizations using a fiscal sponsor must review the Eligibility Criteria & FAQs for additional information and instructions.
  • The foundation accepts applications from public entities such as schools, universities, and libraries through an affiliate or supporting 501(c)(3) organization. Please see the Eligibility Criteria & FAQs for additional qualifying information and instructions.
  • An agency acting as the fiscal sponsor on behalf of a community collaborative 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 Engagement team for more information and to discuss your specific situation.
  • A fiscal sponsor may submit one application on behalf of their organization and one application acting as a fiscal sponsor per grant program in a calendar year.
  • Small Capacity Grants are available for organizations serving all regions of Santa Barbara County.


Application Process
The  Small Capacity Building Grant program  utilizes an online application. Please follow the instructions below to access, complete and submit your application to the foundation.

  • To apply, go to
  • On the Welcome to the Santa Barbara Foundation Grants Portal page, click on “Register” and complete the form to create an account for the Grants Portal. You will be asked to furnish an email address, create a password and state the name of your organization. We advise using a perpetual email address (such as or so that the organization’s profile is not exclusively linked to one individual’s email address.
  • IMPORTANT – You will receive an email confirming that your account is active and you will then be able to complete and submit a grant application. Please take this timing into consideration when reviewing application deadlines as you must allow time for your account to be created prior to submitting an application before the deadline. (If you are establishing an account on Friday, the registration confirmation will occur on the following Monday).
  • Once your account has been confirmed, you may login and complete the Small Capacity Building Grant application.
  • You may save your work and log out at any time.
  • To access the partially complete application again, you will log into the account you created and access the Small Capacity Building Grant you saved.


Submittal Procedures

  • Applications will be accepted only through the online process. Paper applications will not be accepted.
  • To submit the completed and saved application, while on the “Submit” page, click the “I agree” box under Proposal Authorization. A “Submit” button will appear at the bottom of the page for you to click. If you attempt to submit the application with any errors you will receive a “validation” box listing the errors. Once the errors have been corrected, you may resubmit the application. Please note, some questions have character counts (indicated beneath the question). While you will be able to continue entering text beyond these character counts, you will not be able to submit your application. Please ensure you do not exceed the character count in order to successfully submit your application.
  • You will receive an automatic email when your grant application has been received. Please retain this receipt for your files.


Important Dates
Organizations are invited to submit an application at any time. The application period ends the first Monday of each month, February through November. Applications received after the deadline will be considered the following month, with the exception of November, which is the final deadline for this time period. Grant decisions will be made within eight weeks following the deadline.


2021 Small Capacity Building Grant Deadlines:
February 1 | March 1 | April 5 | May 3 | June 7 |  July 6 | August 2 | September 7 | October 4 | November 1


Contact Information
For questions about the Small Capacity Building Grant program, please contact Gary Clark, Director of the Collaboration for Social Impact, at (805) 963-1873 or