Finding a Community of Giving

By Merryl and Chuck Zegar   |   February 4, 2021

As philanthropists, it is our view that wealth is both a blessing and a responsibility. We have been most fortunate to be blessed with bounty in our lives and believe that it is our moral obligation to share this bounty by giving. For us, wealth creates a sacred trust to be put to use in helping to repair our world in impactful ways to improve the lives of others and hopefully advance our human condition through our efforts in giving.

Growing up, both of us experienced financial strains and sometimes even hardships. We both know what it means to struggle and so can appreciate the struggles of others. We say “there but for the grace of God go I.” 

We established our Zegar Family Foundation thirteen years ago as the primary vehicle through which we make gifts to others. The mission of our foundation is “to give back by improving the larger world around us and the lives of others where our gifts can yield meaningful tangible impact for a better world.”

Over the years, our areas of giving have evolved and we now concentrate our giving efforts in two key focus areas – Environment and Sustainability as well as Justice and Human Rights. Yet other core values remain important to us such as arts and culture, health, education, and helping those in need especially in the community around us.

“These goals of supporting our Santa Barbara community while seeking advances for the larger world around us are not mutually exclusive.”

Thus, when we bought our home here in Montecito six years ago, we were determined to become involved in local philanthropy and set about to learn more. With so many local not-for-profits per capita (and without the aid of this terrific philanthropy giving book guide you now have) we turned to Charity Navigator and found the highly rated Direct Relief. Inspired by the work of Direct Relief, we not only made a grant to contribute to constructing their much needed new building, but also offered a challenge match which helped spur the capital campaign forward.

By doing so, we not only helped Direct Relief, but this gift opened doors for us into the Santa Barbara giving community. We met numerous other philanthropists and good people who remain our friends to this day. From there, we began to learn of a broad range of other giving opportunities, for example, ranging from our next capital contribution made to MOXI, an educational children’s museum then being constructed, to supporting Pacific Pride’s LGBTQ programs to assisting the services of Girls Inc. for local girls by providing a grant for a new position to helping to fund performing arts at our beautiful, iconic Granada Theatre.

Over the years here, we have been active caring members of the Santa Barbara giving community, stepping up to help those in need following the Montecito mudslides two and a half years ago and more recently giving multiple grants for COVID relief. Our community philanthropy and commitment is in addition to the philanthropic focus of our foundation with which we try to make change and have impact on a potentially grander scale. These goals of supporting our Santa Barbara community while seeking advances for the larger world around us are not mutually exclusive.

We are so happy to be part of this caring community in Santa Barbara. There are so many ways to help improve the world and give to the many in need. We hope that you too will find a path of giving that resonates and be inspired by this guide to give back in ways that you can!

 

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.