With a new venue and more opportunity for what founder Michael Towbes called “schmoozing time,” Montecito Bank & Trust hosted its 8th annual Community Dividends awards luncheon in Santa Barbara on Nov. 22.
At the luncheon, bank officials handed out $1 million in checks to 163 organizations located from Solvang to Westlake Village. This is the largest group to receive the annual gifts, which have become something of a Monday-before-Thanksgiving tradition on the South Coast.
“We recognize these are difficult times,” Towbes said, adding that he hoped his bank would serve as a role model for other companies in the area. Montecito Bank & Trust President Janet Garufis said several nonprofits volunteered to skip their checks this year so new organizations could get funding.
Towbes, the co-founder and sole owner of Montecito Bank & Trust, created the Community Dividends program after he converted the nearly $1 billion asset financial institution into a so-called “Subchapter S” corporation.
Subchapter S status allows the bank to distribute its profits without facing the double taxation of its dividends, which means money that would have been paid out in taxes goes directly to nonprofits.
Among the recipients were health and education foundations, arts and culture institutions and community organizations such as Food Share of Ventura County and Foodbank of Santa Barbara.
Although it has been held at Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore in Santa Barbara each year since its founding, this year the event was moved from an interior ballroom to the seaside Coral Casino. Towbes said he wanted to create an atmosphere for nonprofits to have more informal networking time to share ideas and philanthropic successes.