From our inception in 2004 until mid-2019, the Women's Fund of Santa Barbara operated as a Field of Interest Fund of the Santa Barbara Foundation, which means the Foundation served as our tax-exempt home, handling our financial transactions for a 3% administrative fee.
In 2019, the Women’s Fund of Santa Barbara became a tax-exempt nonprofit organization and transitioned to independent operations. Contracts with a professional bookkeeper and accountant replace the services previously provided by the Santa Barbara Foundation.
The Women's Fund's financial guidelines remain straightforward. We strive to minimize our expenses so that we can maximize our grants pool.
2018 Financial Snapshot
At year-end, we had a balance of $90,561 to fund operations.
Note: In addition to cash contributions,
we received $6,480 of in-kind contributions.
Expenses and Distributions 2018
Grant Distributions 2004-2019
More than $7.2 million has been donated sine 2004, benefiting nearly 100,000 local women, children and families.
Membership donations collected during the calendar year make up the grants pool awarded the following spring.
Myths About Women's Fund Expenses
MYTH: The Women’s Fund is run by volunteers so it has no expenses.
The first part is true. Dozens of talented women each donate hundreds of hours of their time and talent to the Women’s Fund. But we pay vendors for our database and website, financial and transaction processing, events, graphic design, printing, liability insurance and more. As the Women’s Fund grows, so do these expenses.
MYTH: The Women’s Fund is a pass-through, expenses are minimal.
The Women’s Fund is a grant maker. We combine member contributions, safeguard the grants pool, provide financial oversight, maintain the database, promote our mission to gain new members and retain current members, oversee member communications and on-line information resources, identify critical community issues, research local nonprofits, manage voting, deliver large grants and review results. And then we do it all over again.
MYTH: Women’s Fund expenses are paid by the Women’s Fund Endowment.
The Women’s Fund endowment will not provide income until it reaches a threshold of $500,000 averaged over three years. Through generous contributions, the 2018 year-end Endowment balance was $349,262.
MYTH: Using a credit card is more expensive than donating by check.
We do pay transaction fees for credit card usage. But it streamlines our processes and donations are received immediately when members donate online. That said, we welcome contributions in whatever form including personal checks, IRA distributions, donor advised funds and stock transfers.
MYTH: There has been too much attention to growth and not enough to controlling costs.
From the beginning, we have used a number of strategies to reduce costs and manage our expenses so that the maximum amount of our membership donations flows into the community as Women’s Fund grants. For example:
- We are volunteer-led and managed. Dozens of talented women each donate hundreds of hours of their time to the Women’s Fund. We pay for administrative, payment processing and technology support, but we have no employees. As membership and contributions to the community continue to grow, we may need to pay for some services where volunteers aren’t available.
- Generous underwriters and sponsors have helped pay some of our expenses.
- Generous members have made in-kind donations to offset expenses for everything from food and beverage to printing and office supplies.
- Members who attend our largest informational events pay a modest attendance fee to help offset the costs.
- We use technology to reduce costs in managing our membership donations and communicating with our members.
- We hold no costly fundraisers; our membership grows almost entirely through word-of-mouth
MYTH: A founding principle of the Women’s Fund was “no events.”
“No FUNDRAISING events” was a founding principle we still follow today. No auctions. No casino nights. No tournaments. Only a major celebration in the spring, an educational series in the fall, and a few smaller gatherings throughout the year for specific purposes, like the educational ballot review meeting.