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.
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!