PFE Demystifies Regional Philanthropy

“Demystifying.” That’s how Elena Richardson, Grants Program Manager at the Fund for Santa Barbara, describes her first experience of the Partnership for Excellence.

Having begun her position at the Fund in July 2012, Elena notes that attending the conference for the first time in 2013 helped in her work connecting funders with grantees. The conference provided an “overview of the philanthropic landscape,” says Elena. “I met potential partners, put faces with names I had heard of and found out about new funding opportunities.”

No stranger to grassroots and political organizing in the Santa Barbara region, after graduating from UCSB with a B.A in Political Science and Arabic, Elena worked on several state and local election campaigns and in the Office of the Mayor and City Council for the City of Santa Barbara. Currently the native of both Bakersfield, California and Karachi, Pakistan is participating in the Emerging Leaders Program conducted by Leading From Within and sponsored by the Santa Barbara Foundation 

At PFE, Elena saw an opportunity to connect with existing contacts and make new connections, too. “It helped to demystify the philanthropic cast of characters.” She especially appreciated the intimate, casual atmosphere of the afternoon workshops. Plus, having attended the conference with other staff and board members, she was able to compare notes and share information gleaned at the event 

This year’s conference Co-Creating Our Future: Impacts and Evaluations that Matter will focus on a subject of particular interest to Elena—evaluation. She recently completed a Masters in Public Health at Boston University and worked with the Harvard School of Public Health and Management Sciences for Health on monitoring and evaluation projects in Egypt, Lesotho, Swaziland, and Zambia.

In the context of creating social change here in Santa Barbara, evaluation can be a challenge, notes Elena. At the Fund for Santa Barbara, “we ask our grantees to define how they will measure their own success, we don’t subscribe specific indicators,” she notes. “Because of the grassroots nature of some of our grantees, it can be helpful to provide ideas for the types of outcomes they can measure.” She hopes that this year’s conference will help the Fund’s grassroots grantees “think through things they can measure,” especially for organizations that are grappling with evaluation for the first time.

Partnership for Excellence is a full day conference with funders and nonprofit leaders from the Santa Barbara County philanthropic sector. Join us Thursday, April 17 event taking place at The Fess Parker from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. 

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