Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, Inc.

aka Santa Barbara Botanic Garden   |   Santa Barbara, CA   |
GuideStar Charity Check

Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, Inc.

EIN: 95-1644628


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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Subject area info

Natural history museums

Botanical gardens


Population served info

Children and youth


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)

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

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.
  • 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

  • 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.
Fiscal year: Jan 01 - Dec 31

Revenue vs. expenses:  breakdown

SOURCE: IRS Form 990 info
Note: When component data are not available, the graph displays the total Revenue and/or Expense values.

Liquidity in 2022 info

SOURCE: IRS Form 990


Average of 7.31 over 10 years

Months of cash in 2022 info

SOURCE: IRS Form 990


Average of 2 over 10 years

Fringe rate in 2022 info

SOURCE: IRS Form 990


Average of 31% over 10 years

Funding sources info

Source: IRS Form 990

Assets & liabilities info

Source: IRS Form 990

Financial data

SOURCE: IRS Form 990

Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, Inc.

Revenue & expenses

Fiscal Year: Jan 01 - Dec 31

SOURCE: IRS Form 990 info

Fiscal year ending: cloud_download Download Data

Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, Inc.

Balance sheet

Fiscal Year: Jan 01 - Dec 31

SOURCE: IRS Form 990 info

The balance sheet gives a snapshot of the financial health of an organization at a particular point in time. An organization's total assets should generally exceed its total liabilities, or it cannot survive long, but the types of assets and liabilities must also be considered. For instance, an organization's current assets (cash, receivables, securities, etc.) should be sufficient to cover its current liabilities (payables, deferred revenue, current year loan, and note payments). Otherwise, the organization may face solvency problems. On the other hand, an organization whose cash and equivalents greatly exceed its current liabilities might not be putting its money to best use.

Fiscal year ending: cloud_download Download Data

Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, Inc.

Financial trends analysis Glossary & formula definitions

Fiscal Year: Jan 01 - Dec 31

SOURCE: IRS Form 990 info

This snapshot of Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, Inc.’s financial trends applies Nonprofit Finance Fund® analysis to data hosted by GuideStar. While it highlights the data that matter most, remember that context is key – numbers only tell part of any story.

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Business model indicators

Profitability info 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022
Unrestricted surplus (deficit) before depreciation -$848,217 $242,689 -$955,134 $1,442,857 -$1,444,750
As % of expenses -20.8% 5.3% -21.7% 27.1% -20.6%
Unrestricted surplus (deficit) after depreciation -$1,491,339 -$393,214 -$1,583,686 $823,731 -$2,109,429
As % of expenses -31.6% -7.6% -31.4% 13.9% -27.5%
Revenue composition info
Total revenue (unrestricted & restricted) $4,436,297 $4,177,381 $4,952,364 $7,409,122 $7,523,888
Total revenue, % change over prior year -10.7% -5.8% 18.6% 49.6% 1.5%
Program services revenue 31.5% 34.1% 27.3% 28.7% 34.1%
Membership dues 0.0% 7.5% 7.5% 6.3% 8.7%
Investment income 8.6% 10.5% 6.3% 4.7% 4.9%
Government grants 0.0% 0.0% 11.4% 8.1% 0.0%
All other grants and contributions 49.1% 37.6% 37.8% 35.3% 42.3%
Other revenue 10.8% 10.3% 9.6% 16.9% 10.0%
Expense composition info
Total expenses before depreciation $4,080,969 $4,548,848 $4,407,953 $5,316,790 $7,015,456
Total expenses, % change over prior year 23.7% 11.5% -3.1% 20.6% 31.9%
Personnel 64.2% 62.8% 66.8% 66.7% 69.1%
Professional fees 11.4% 14.3% 14.7% 13.9% 11.3%
Occupancy 4.5% 4.4% 5.2% 3.0% 2.6%
Interest 3.3% 3.2% 0.8% 0.0% 0.0%
Pass-through 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
All other expenses 16.6% 15.2% 12.6% 16.4% 17.0%
Full cost components (estimated) info 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022
Total expenses (after depreciation) $4,724,091 $5,184,751 $5,036,505 $5,935,916 $7,680,135
One month of savings $340,081 $379,071 $367,329 $443,066 $584,621
Debt principal payment $0 $245,310 $602,810 $2,530,447 $0
Fixed asset additions $0 $0 $0 $0 $1,319,132
Total full costs (estimated) $5,064,172 $5,809,132 $6,006,644 $8,909,429 $9,583,888

Capital structure indicators

Liquidity info 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022
Months of cash 1.3 4.2 3.0 3.0 2.0
Months of cash and investments 39.8 43.3 45.4 43.5 26.7
Months of estimated liquid unrestricted net assets 26.6 24.4 21.2 24.3 15.7
Balance sheet composition info 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022
Cash $446,988 $1,592,964 $1,116,507 $1,336,585 $1,165,443
Investments $13,103,356 $14,815,700 $15,566,658 $17,940,386 $14,458,016
Receivables $246,114 $451,037 $718,233 $1,323,481 $1,261,031
Gross land, buildings, equipment (LBE) $26,841,205 $26,528,050 $26,173,807 $23,791,614 $23,902,875
Accumulated depreciation (as a % of LBE) 14.8% 17.0% 18.7% 22.0% 24.6%
Liabilities (as a % of assets) 10.1% 9.1% 7.6% 1.5% 2.6%
Unrestricted net assets $28,527,529 $28,134,315 $26,550,629 $29,306,617 $27,197,188
Temporarily restricted net assets $2,277,749 N/A N/A N/A N/A
Permanently restricted net assets $5,142,355 N/A N/A N/A N/A
Total restricted net assets $7,420,104 $9,028,574 $11,218,255 $11,506,771 $10,008,124
Total net assets $35,947,633 $37,162,889 $37,768,884 $40,813,388 $37,205,312

Key data checks

Key data checks info 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022
Material data errors No No No No No


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

Letter of Determination is not available for this organization
Form 1023/1024 is not available for this organization

Executive Director

Steve Windhager PhD

Number of employees

Source: IRS Form 990

Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, Inc.

Officers, directors, trustees, and key employees

SOURCE: IRS Form 990

Show data for fiscal year
Compensation data
Download up to 5 most recent years of officer and director compensation data for this organization

Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, Inc.

Highest paid employees

SOURCE: IRS Form 990

Show data for fiscal year
Compensation data
Download up to 5 most recent years of highest paid employee data for this organization

Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, Inc.

Board of directors
as of 12/11/2023
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board of directors data
Download the most recent year of board of directors data for this organization
Board chair

Mark Funk

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 2/19/2021

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? Candid partnered with CHANGE Philanthropy on this demographic section.


The organization's leader identifies as:

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

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

Transgender Identity

Sexual orientation



Fiscal year ending

Professional fundraisers

Fiscal year ending

SOURCE: IRS Form 990 Schedule G

Solicitation activities
Gross receipts from fundraising
Retained by organization
Paid to fundraiser