Better Together: How Deckers Brands Exemplifies Values-Driven Giving

By Emily Heckman   |   January 12, 2021

How many international corporations do you know that pay their employees to engage in volunteering in their local communities? Deckers Brands – a lifestyle and footwear company – does, and it was one of the employee perks that draws global talent to the company – and keeps it there. 

Encouraging its own community members to invest their time in giving back to the community is just one of the core corporate values that sets Deckers Brands apart, when it comes to building strong, collaborative philanthropic relationships throughout Santa Barbara County and beyond. 

Values to Live By

Dave Powers,
President and CEO
of Deckers Brands

“At Deckers, we strive to be a model for what a public company looks like both in terms of financial responsibility and corporate responsibility,” says Dave Powers, President and CEO of Deckers Brands. “Focusing on doing the right thing is part of our corporate DNA, and we know that in good times and bad, engaging with the Santa Barbara nonprofit community, and encouraging our employees to do the same, makes us all the stronger as a company and community member.”

“Since our founding, we’ve been committed to supporting and partnering with organizations that focus on at-risk youth, education, the environment, and families. Most recently we’re also supporting organizations that focus on social and racial justice and diversity and inclusion,” says Michelle Apodaca, Director of Deckers Gives & Board Administration.

The company is also committed to making significant change, in real-time, and is able to fearlessly pivot when needed because of its values-driven philosophy of giving.

As soon as Covid-19 brought the U.S. and the Santa Barbara economies to a standstill in March 2020, Deckers sprang into action by establishing the Santa Barbara Better Together fund. 

“We created SB Better Together with the goal of providing grants to small local businesses so they could stay afloat.” Apodaca explains. “We saw so clearly that we were in uncharted territory with the pandemic and we sensed that it would be a long road to recovery. We partnered with the Santa Barbara Foundation, provided an initial gift of $500,000. Our first grant out of the gate was to Women’s Economic Ventures(WEV), a local nonprofit that focuses on launching and funding small businesses, and which was offering emergency Covid relief loans. We saw this as a way to fuel the engine of local recovery by supporting an organization that raises up entrepreneurs and new businesses. Then the Santa Barbara Foundation reached out to local municipalities to tell them about SB Better Together and they agreed to match our commitment and join the fund. The endowment doubled and to date, we’ve distributed more than $1 million to local small businesses, with the goal that those funds will help those businesses successfully navigate the pandemic and survive.”

Another Covid-19 inspired initiative involves donating footwear to frontline workers across the country. To date, Deckers has put more than 5,000 pairs of shoes on the feet of essential workers, with no intention of stopping anytime soon.

Locally, the Deckers Gives Team has watched as the pandemic has exacerbated ongoing problems like food insecurity, educational and technology insecurity, and domestic violence – at a time when so many of our children were already at risk. Deckers responded by strengthening its relationships with those organizations who are actively addressing these problems with the urgency the pandemic has brought with it.

Underpinning all of Deckers’ philanthropic initiatives is the desire to set the standard for corporate giving by modeling successful long-term collaborations with organizations that share their values and are committed to helping the Santa Barbara community thrive.

Sustainability is Key

When looking for organizations to partner with, sustainability is another value that is key. Deckers is drawn to organizations that are highly rated by Charity Navigator and GuideStar, two of the gold-star charity evaluators. 

“We want to see financial accountability and transparency, as well as the positive impact their work has on the community,” Apodaca shares, “and we want to see that their programs are resilient and sustainable.”

Creating and maintaining sustainable manufacturing and sourcing practices is at the heart of the Deckers business model, too. “As a global leader in designing, manufacturing, and distributing innovative footwear, apparel, and accessories, our worldwide scope and impact is significant. We recognize that we need to do our part and be both socially and environmentally conscious. Part of our strategy for being environmentally responsible is reflected in our partnerships with organizations that are committed to environmental stewardship.” 

Better Together

“Philanthropy is such an important part of Santa Barbara’s culture and history, and nonprofits play an indescribably important role in ensuring that we all keep moving toward an ideal where we can live by our highest values,” Apodaca says. “We partner with more than 140 local organizations who are dedicated to solving social problems and creating a more just and equitable community model. It’s all about collaboration, and from my vantage point, I see the ripple effect of the good work our community partners do, how working together has a multiplying effect on our efforts.

“If there was ever a moment when the for-profit sector should step up their support of the non profit sector, it’s now – and Deckers is 100% committed to being there for the SB community while we get through these historically uncertain times.

“I think we’ve all become incredibly aware of how much better everything is when we’re in it together,” says CEO and President Dave Powers. “Especially when times are tough: we know that being of service matters more than ever and Deckers is committed to being at the forefront of giving in order to keep our community strong.”

 

Santa Barbara Foundation

What We Do

For over 92 years, the Santa Barbara Foundation has been a catalyst for change. We analyze issues to identify challenges that burden people every day in Santa Barbara County. We convene community stakeholders to build coalitions and partner with nonprofits and other leaders working on the front lines. Together, we chart a direction and mobilize people like you to support the dynamic initiatives that makes this a better place, now and for generations to come.

Begin to Build a Relationship

We know you care about where your money goes and how it is used. Connect with this organization’s leadership in order to begin to build this important relationship. Your email will be sent directly to this organization’s director of development and/or Executive Director.

No Stranger to Community Challenges

“Santa Barbara County is no stranger to community challenges, environmental problems, and social inequity. Fortunately, our County has over 3,400 nonprofit organizations that address the significant needs of our most vulnerable community members. I am proud to invest with the Santa Barbara Foundation, which supports me in understanding both our community needs and how specific nonprofit organizations provide their services to address those needs. With such depth in community knowledge, the Santa Barbara Foundation helps me to maximize my charitable dollars for good.”
Pamela Gann, Chair of the Board of Trustees for the Santa Barbara Foundation

LEADERSHIP IN ACTION

The Santa Barbara Foundation leads the effort to bring people and resources together to work for large scale, sustainable improvements in the community. We do that by facilitating dialogue among stakeholders- business leaders, government representatives, leaders of nonprofit organizations, residents and funders who want to create positive change. We look for the chance to form strategic partnerships to leverage our collective strengths and maximize the power of our donor’s dollars. Because we do extensive research into the greatest needs of the community and the people who deliver services, we are positioned to champion specific causes and organizations. We then advocate for the funding to transform innovative ideas into reality. Learn more about our work within the community.

STRATEGIC GRANTMAKING

There are approximately 1,900 nonprofits in Santa Barbara County. Even the most diligent donor would find it daunting to try to learn about all of them and vet their work. In partnering with the Santa Barbara Foundation, donors can be assured that we award our grants through a rigorous process of research, planning, due diligence and evaluation. We work to identify and prioritize critical needs for strategic grantmaking requiring special focus and additional organizational resources. Once funded, we monitor and evaluate these initiatives for impact. We are committed to working with providers to maximize their effectiveness. Learn more about our grantmaking.

PARTNERS IN PHILANTHROPY

We are grateful that for more than 90 years the people of Santa Barbara County have trusted us to steward their charitable assets. Our team of philanthropic advisors help donors navigate the logistics of giving, and work with them to create a customized plan that aligns with their goals. As a community foundation, we have a responsibility to expand financial capital by reaching out to individuals and institutions to raise funds. We are committed to pooling our collective resources with those of forward-thinking funders to build scalable solutions. The Santa Barbara Foundation invites and encourages all donors, contributing all size donations, to join us. Learn more and become a Partner in Philanthropy.

SUPPORTING THE SOCIAL SECTOR

The Santa Barbara Foundation believes a healthy, high-achieving, creative social sector enables our county to fulfill its potential. To help make our nonprofits stronger and more resilient, we share knowledge through a series of capacity building workshops, leadership development, and technical assistance programs. We engage with practitioners to develop successful approaches for improved outcomes in the community. We connect them with funders and other nonprofits to make their efforts more powerful. Since this can be a demanding line of work, we recognize and reward hard work and excellence of those working in the social sector. Learn more about the Collaboration for Social Impact.