BY KARA SHOEMAKER
The needs of our community are ever evolving. To stay up to date on pressing issues, the Santa Barbara Foundation creates spaces that invite conversation and allow for the exchange of knowledge between the Foundation and organizations across the county.
One way we facilitate learning is through Grantee Convenings. In 2019, the Foundation decided to try something new – we have elected to host convenings in addition to submitting a report a year after receiving funding.
“The whole thought behind it is to get people together to not only fulfill reporting requirements, but to get people together to share information with each other, and then we could learn from them as well,” said Pedro Paz, Director of Grantmaking at the Santa Barbara Foundation. “From the get-go, we purposely set it up as a learning community.”
In 2020, the Foundation hosted two virtual convenings, one for 2019 Food, Shelter and Safety grant recipients, and one for 2019 Behavioral Health and Health Care grant recipients.
“Not only did we want to gather organizations who received funding, but we also wanted to gather those who applied and did not get funding. The purpose was to get together to learn, to talk,” said Paz. “We didn’t anticipate the pandemic hitting when we decided to do these convenings a year ago, but it turned out to be a really great gathering because people felt it was good timing for them to get together to talk to their neighbors and people they know who work in the same space, to share ideas, and share what is happening to them.”
A common concern voiced by our nonprofits is that COVID-19 is having a huge impact on their ability to accomplish day-to-day work, and that it is impacting their finances, as well as how they serve their clients. There is also great concern around staff mental health and wellbeing during this challenging time. Organizations shared that advocating for the social sector and hosting convenings are two important ways the Foundation can continue to support them, in addition to providing funding.
“The whole idea was to learn from them so we can change our Grantmaking practices, learn what the challenges are and about trends happening in the field so that we can better anticipate social sector needs,” added Paz.
We cannot know what the future holds. However, we do know that by working closely with our community we can help strengthen our county’s safety net, build resilience, and provide support that will allow us to meet unforeseen challenges as they arise.
To learn more about our impact and other ways we are supporting Santa Barbara County, explore our 2019 Annual Report.