Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, Inc.

aka Santa Barbara Botanic Garden   |   Santa Barbara, CA   |


To conserve California native plants and habitats for the health and well-being of people and the planet.

Ruling year info


Executive Director

Steve Windhager PhD

Main address

1212 Mission Canyon Rd.

Santa Barbara, CA 93105 USA

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NTEE code info

Botanical Gardens, Arboreta and Botanical Organizations (C41)

Biological, Life Science Research includes Marine Biology, Physiology, Biochemistry, Genetics, Biotechnology, etc.) (U50)

Natural History, Natural Science Museums (A56)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

California native plants are facing extinction from climate change, development of critical habitat, drought and lack of understanding by the public. Through its conservation, horticulture and education programs, the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden is broadening the understanding, protection, and restoration of endangered and threatened California native plants and their habitats.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Conservation and Research

The Conservation and Research Program tackles today’s complex conservation challenges at all levels: from genes, to individuals, populations, communities, and ecosystems. Garden scientists work collaboratively to identify and implement strategies for protecting and restoring California’s diverse botanic ecosystems. The Conservation and Research team works to safeguard endangered plant species, produce essential regional plant inventories and research, and secure collections of seeds as well as living plants for study and potential recovery in the event of disaster. They examine the beneficial role native plants play in supporting pollination and pest control for healthier and more productive food crops and wildlands. The team also manages a seed bank and a herbarium. By using cryogenics, they maintain a comprehensive collection of genetic material from California’s most imperiled plants.

Population(s) Served

The Educational Program supports the Garden’s conservation mission by inspiring active stewardship of native plants and the environments that depend on them. We work to develop an environmentally literate and engaged public through on-site classes, lectures, travel, and docent-led public and school tours. The Garden itself serves as a large and inspiring classroom with diverse collections of native plants that attract a great variety of wildlife. Garden school tours increase the eco-literacy of children in ways that are interactive and relevant to their daily lives and interests. These popular tours are designed to align with the California Common Core State Standards, California Environmental Education Initiative, and Next Generation Science Standards. The Garden’s Citizen Science Club and California Naturalists training program offer specialized education for volunteers, nature enthusiasts, and professionals.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth

The Horticulture Program designs, installs, and maintains the Garden’s 78 acres of living native plant collections and historic landmarks. The Garden has several distinctive sections that highlight the breadth of species across California’s diverse landscape. The newest garden displays offer updated inspiration for conserving water and using natives in home gardens; introduce deciduous natives in a shaded, canyon setting; showcase plants of the Channel Islands with a breadth-taking view of the islands themselves; engage children with a maze made of native Coyote Bush; and introduce visitors to California’s rarest and most threated species. The Horticulture team also manages two native plant nurseries, one open to the public for plant purchases and the other for propagation.

Population(s) Served

The volunteer program trains and celebrates over 400 volunteers annually in native plant propagation, interprestation, horticulture and rare plant conservation work.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth

Where we work


Accreditated Museum by American Alliance of Museums 2021

Affiliations & memberships

Botanic Gardens Conservation International 2021

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Total number of organization members

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Adults, Children and youth, Families

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success


Context Notes

Total number of membership households

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

At 95 years old, our mission is more relevant and urgent than ever. This is especially true given the high rates of “nature deficit disorder" and “plant blindness," unprecedented drought, climate change, and continued development pressures on the California landscape.

In 2016, the Garden completed the work funded by the successful $14 million Seed-the-Future Comprehensive Campaign including opening the Pritzlaff Conservation Center and creating/renovating five new gardens. Most of the other objectives of the previous five-year strategic plan were also achieved. Over the next two years, we will learn how to best use and maintain this new and improved infrastructure. After the intense focus that was required to execute a major campaign, the Garden will now refocus, with our increased capacity, on delivering our three core programs: Education, Horticulture, and Conservation Research. For the most part, this two-year interim plan continues on the same path as the previous five-year strategic plan. In 2017, we will begin a robust and comprehensive strategic and business planning process to develop a five-year plan for 2019-2023.
Staff will develop annual work plans of specific activities with measurable desired outcomes for each strategy described below, to the extent possible.

GOALS 2019-2023
1. Conduct research to understand, protect, and restore California's native plants
2. Promote and demonstrate how native plants can be used to improve aesthetics and achieve sustainability goals
3. Be a leader in California native plant horticulture and ecological education to inspire action
4. Ensure the Garden's financial and organizational capacity to achieve our mission
5. Fully evaluate and assess our performance and effectiveness as an organization.

A. Undertake biogeographical, taxonomic, and genetic studies to better understand the nature and evolution of California's plant diversity.
B. Perform monitoring, research, restoration, and germplasm banking to conserve and recover the Central Coast's most imperiled plants.
C. Improve techniques and tools for the conservation and restoration of Central Coast species, habitats, and food webs.
D. Research the use of native plants in planned landscapes and agriculture to provide ecosystem services.

A. Continue to improve the aesthetics of Garden and demonstrate how native plants can be used to create remarkable planned landscapes.
B. Expand the range of landscape design styles exhibited on the grounds while preserving and highlighting the Garden's historic character and natural beauty.
C. Increase the diversity of California native taxa grown at the Garden.
D. Demonstrate sustainable practices in our gardens, facilities, and operations.
E. Collaborate with other organizations to stimulate the use of native plants in horticulture and increase their availability in the nursery trade.
F. Use outreach, interpretation, and education to promote the use of native plants in planned landscapes and partner with like-minded organizations to encourage sustainable gardening practices.
G. Work with various professionals to improve their application of native plants and sustainable practices in planned landscapes.

A. Ensure a positive visitor experience of the aesthetic richness of the garden through beautiful, well-maintained gardens and ample opportunities for self-directed interpretative experiences that inspire further learning and a love of native plants.
B. Provide exceptional directed education opportunities, such as engaging classes and field trips, for all ages.
C. Utilize the Garden's collections to enhance understanding and appreciation of California native plants and landscape design.
D. Advocate at local, state, and national levels for the protection and restoration of native plants.
E. Utilize new and established communication methods to educate the public about the importance and utility of native plants.

A. Grow the Garden's diverse revenue streams to provide reliable core support and build our endowment.
B. Attract and retain excellent staff by offering salaries and benefits that are aligned with other gardens in California and the nonprofit sector in Santa Barbara.
C. Recruit and retain engaged volunteers by offering quality training and positive work experiences.
D. Provide professional development and the tools necessary to attract and retain high-performing staff.

A. Through the Museum Assessment Program of the IMLS, assess the Garden's strengths and weaknesses.
B. Renew our museum accreditation with the American Alliance of Museums.
C. Gather additional data that will help us prepare for our longer-term strategies.

The Garden's facilities include the LEED certified Pritzlaff Conservation Center, (housing the herbarium, seed bank, conservation offices and labs, and the plant genetics lab), library, horticultural facilities, gift shop, visitor facilities, and offices. The Garden's living collection represents 106 plant families spread over 78 acres and includes canyon, desert, arroyo, manzanita, meadow and redwood sections. A Waterwise Home Demonstration Garden shares water-saving collection, irrigation practices and plantings with the public.

The Garden's Conservation, Horticulture, Education and Administrative teams comprise a total of 35 employees and over 400 volunteers.

The completion of the Pritzlaff Conservation Center in 2016 has greatly expanded and updated the Garden's conservation program capabilities. The center includes a plant genetics lab, seed bank, herbarium collection, and lab space for plant identification, specimen preservation, and seed cleaning. Propagation facilities make it possible to grow thousands of seedlings for restoration efforts throughout the Central California Coast and the Channel Islands.

In 2018, rare plant conservation staff outplanted hundreds of rare adobe sanicle (Sanicula maritima) seedlings that were propagated by SBBG for a restoration project in San Luis Obispo County. We participated in the California Invasive Species Summit, a 2-day workshop at the Capitol in Sacramento to help craft legislation that eventually went into a bill that was passed and now has funding attached to it: AB2470. We also collaborated with new organizations including the Ojai Valley Land Conservancy and the Garden Street Academy, which helped us reach new audiences and extend our volunteer base to aid in our work.

The Garden has expanded its conservation work by hiring its first lichenologist and will continue its rare plant research and conservation work throughout the Central Coast, Channel Islands and Baja islands. In the Garden, we will be developing a childrens' outdoor space where kids can explore nature and its native flora in an unstructured way. The Garden is expanding its programming to attract more families and children to the Garden and will be enhancing its interpretation in the Garden. The Garden's new Strategic Plan sets a number of priorities for the next 5 years.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We demonstrated a willingness to learn more by reviewing resources about feedback practice.
done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • Who are the people you serve with your mission?

    Our mission is to "to conserve California native plants and habitats for the health and well-being of people and the planet." Our work falls in four categories: 1) Understand the nature and evolution of California’s plant diversity, 2) Protect the region’s rarest plant species, 3) Conserve and Restore Central Coast habitats and food webs, and 4) Advocate for the conservation of California’s native plants – and for biodiversity as a whole, of which native plants are the foundation. The Garden's 78 acres are planted exclusively with California native plants and is a living museum and Santa Barbara Historic Landmark.

  • How is your organization collecting feedback from the people you serve?

    Electronic surveys (by email, tablet, etc.), Focus groups or interviews (by phone or in person), survey in conjunction with local newspaper as part of contest,

  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify and remedy poor client service experiences, To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To make fundamental changes to our programs and/or operations, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To identify where we are less inclusive or equitable across demographic groups, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve, To understand people's needs and how we can help them achieve their goals,

  • What significant change resulted from feedback?

    In a recent survey we heard that some people though the cost of membership and/or admissions was prohibitive so we reached out to those people to let them know that we have received several grants that allow us to offer low and no cost memberships and admissions. We are actively working on a plan to get the word out to more locals that cost should not prevent them from visiting and enjoying The Garden.

  • With whom is the organization sharing feedback?

    Our staff, Our board,

  • How has asking for feedback from the people you serve changed your relationship?

    Because we are a Botanic Garden and rely heavily on admissions and memberships our guests experiences have always been extremely important. We have regular guest experience meeting with staff to share and discuss everything happening at The Garden that will effect our guests and members in both positive ways (fun events, wildflower blooms), and negative ways (trial closures for maintenance). Hearing feedback from surveys, emails, comments to staff, social media, Trip Advisor ratings, is always taken seriously. I can't say that it has shifted power to the people we serve because I believe the power was always with them through our desire to be a top destination for both tourists and the community.

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

    We collect feedback from the people we serve at least annually, We aim to collect feedback from as many people we serve as possible, We take steps to ensure people feel comfortable being honest with us, We look for patterns in feedback based on people’s interactions with us (e.g., site, frequency of service, etc.), We act on the feedback we receive,

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    We don't have any major challenges to collecting feedback,


Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, Inc.

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The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.


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Connect with nonprofit leaders


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  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

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Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, Inc.

Board of directors
as of 1/27/2022
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Valerie Hoffman

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? No
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? No

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 02/19/2021

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.


The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
Gender identity
Male, Not transgender (cisgender)
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or Straight
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity


Sexual orientation