It’s time to get into the holiday spirit and join in on giving back to your community. Join Noozhawk this #GivingTuesday and donate to your favorite local nonprofits.
Noozhawk is teaming up with local nonprofits to encourage you to take part in the international day of giving, which takes place on November 30th, 2021.
It is no secret that this past year and a half has been full of challenges. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, local nonprofits need your support now more than ever.
Our Good for Santa Barbara Nonprofit Section provides all the resources you need to donate this holiday season, including a full Giving Guide with a list of local nonprofits who need your help this Giving Tuesday.
In this interview, Noozhawk spoke with Robin Elander, Executive Director at The Downtown Organization of Santa Barbara, to learn more about how the nonprofit is dedicated to the promotion and enhancement of the Santa Barbara Downtown District for the benefit of its business members.
The Downtown Organization of Santa Barbara
Question: What is the name & mission of your nonprofit?
Answer: The Downtown Organization of Santa Barbara, Inc. (DSB) is dedicated to the promotion and enhancement of the Santa Barbara Downtown District for the benefit of its business members, Santa Barbara residents and visitors and the greater community.
Q: How long has your nonprofit been in service and whom was it started by?
A: DSB was first incorporated in 1967 as a nonprofit and has served as the collective voice for Downtown Santa Barbara for more than fifty years. Governed by a volunteer Board of Directors and managed by a team of professional staff, DSB has a long history of leading change, organizing community, and building the brand Downtown Santa Barbara. We pride ourselves on providing services that community every day and we work in an innovative way to leverage our knowledge and partnership for positive collective impact.
Q: What was the inspiration behind your nonprofit?
A: The Downtown Organization of Santa Barbara was started by downtown merchants and community leaders to promote civic beautification, economic growth and prosperity and the preservation of Downtown Santa Barbara as the City’s principal business, financial and cultural district; and to establish and maintain cooperation, interest, unity of purpose, action and civic responsibility among the persons and entities having civic, business, professional, artistic or other interests in the Downtown area.
Q: How is your nonprofit primarily funded and what are your greatest needs?
A: The Downtown Organization is funded in part by Business Improvement fees, or assessments on business license fees, plus a marketing contract with the City of Santa Barbara as well as earned income through various events and programs, grants and sponsorships. Our greatest need currently is funding to assist with addressing the growing challenges associated with our unhoused population downtown. We are seeking funds to assist with case management services to help get individuals experiencing homelessness the services they need as well as programs to help mitigate challenges with homelessness. Also, with the addition of the State Street Promenade, we also have quite a bit more space to activate, and welcome sponsorships to assist with adding music, activations and community orientated activities to support a thriving downtown every day of the week. We are actively working to help our business community recover from the pandemic and your patronage and focus on shopping local as well as volunteering on our downtown activations and initiatives team would be greatly appreciated.
Q: How has COVID-19 impacted your nonprofit?
A: We serve 1400 businesses in the downtown district ranging from theatres, restaurants, nonprofits, retailers, salons and professional organizations and everything in between. Many businesses were closed due to Covid -19 guidelines or had reduced capacity for weeks and months and are still working to recover from the pandemic. The Downtown Organization’s has worked diligently to mobilize additional resources to assist with getting the business community the help and resources they need to pivot, bounce back, grow and thrive. We work hard to market and promote all the business community through existing programs and have added many new programs and partnerships to serve our businesses community. We are continually seeking new funding sources to be able to grow our organizations capacity to support our downtown community and all those it serves.
Q: In what ways does your nonprofit utilize it’s funding?
A: We use our funding to support and promote the businesses in the district, and market downtown to the greater community. We manage events and activations such as 1st Thursday ArtWalk, State Street Promenade Market, a weekly locals night with retail and food vendors, music and more. We also put on an annual Safe Trick or Treat, Small Business Saturday promotions, the Annual Holiday Parade – though this year we will put on 11 holiday events starting November 27th instead of one large event to be extra careful about the health and safety of our community. We also assist with facilitating many other events and activities in conjunction with the community.
Q: How do people get involved/volunteer for your nonprofit?
A: We have many ways the public and business community can get involved and volunteer for our organization. Join a marketing committee designed to assist with organizing, promoting, and celebrating the diverse activities and organizations downtown, plus get engaged in the State Street Regional Action Plan meetings to assist mitigating issues around homelessness downtown, Join the Economic Vitality committee to assist in creating a thriving, economically vital downtown, attend a downtown networking mixer and more. We also have an annual awards breakfast honoring our businesses, and opportunities to volunteer at our quarterly Downtown Beautification Days, and all of our events. To learn more email Amy@downtownsb.org.
Q: How does the work of your nonprofit get communicated to the public?
A: We share most of our work with the community via our website, Facebook page, Instagram page and e-newsletter. Sign up to for the e-newsletter here.
Q: Why should donors trust your organization and are there other ways to help outside of donations?
A: The Downtown Organization is managed by a board of directors made of up of downtown businesses, property owners and local professionals as board members and staff. We have an over 50 year track record of supporting the downtown businesses and greater community. We are always available to assist and troubleshoot challenges and work to be responsive and leverage resources for the benefit of downtown. We also complete an annual financial audit that is available on request.
Q: Can you tell us one short-term goal AND one long-term goal that your nonprofit has for the next year?
A: In the short term, we are working to create a wonderful holiday season for our community with 11 free holiday events including a tree lighting, free concerts, opportunities for families to engage with Santa, a shop local campaign and so more. Over this upcoming year and beyond, we are working hard to build the capacity of our organization to support the changing needs of our diverse downtown business community as well as the greater community by working to create an even more welcoming, safe and thriving downtown.
We are working to add new “Experience Downtown” Walking Tours, add new downtown activations, such as music, family oriented activities, events, plus work to build on our existing programs to support and more.
Becoming a volunteer, sponsor or partner organization would go a long way in helping make these realizations and others possible.
Click here to support The Downtown Organization of Santa Barbara’s mission to promote and enhance the Santa Barbara Downtown District.