January 29, 2023
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Philanthropy consultant helps give it away


“It is more difficult to give money away intelligently than it is to earn it in the first place,” Andrew Carnegie, one of the country’s original businessmen turned philanthropists, once said.

That’s the problem Tina Fanucchi-Frontado helps donors address with her business, SB Philanthropy. Three years ago, Fanucchi-Frontado was serving as executive director of the Santa Barbara Education Foundation when she noticed a need in the philanthropy world. There were large foundations in the area, but there wasn’t anyone working hands-on with the growing number of donors who wanted to be intimately involved their philanthropic dollars.

“During that time, outside clients started coming to me and asking me to help them with their donor options,” she told the Business Times. “I thought there was more work there. People want to be strategic and leverage their money for the best possible causes. The days are gone of donors making the gift and not thinking about it.”

With that in mind, Fanucchi-Frontado, who has a master’s in public administration and is working towards her certification in financial planning,  launched her consulting business in 2010. She works with big corporations, family foundations, small  businesses and individuals to help them reach charitable goals, whether they’re working with $2,000 or $2 million.

Having spent her professional life working for a number of for-profit and nonprofit companies, Fanucchi-Frontado is well-positioned for the job. She said she has spent time wearing two hats: She was in charge of fundraising as executive director of a nonprofit foundation, and she was a donor during her years as a small business owner.

For large companies, she said, matching philanthropic goals with a charitable cause is a difficult task because there are so many of them. There are more than 200 nonprofit organizations in Santa Barbara County alone. Many corporations assign the human resources manager to handing out money, and they often don’t know where to start. That’s where Fanucchi-Frontado comes in. She trains companies on how to select nonprofits based on the kind of cause the corporation wants to support and where the money can have the most impact.

And for small businesses and families, the trend she’s seeing is that they want to take a deeper look at where their money is going. “Let’s say a business wants to give $10,000 to a local nonprofit. I’ll sit down with them and talk about how we can leverage the donation,” she said. “The trend I’m seeing is that large and small businesses are seeing the marketing value of philanthropy. It really builds up a company’s reputation and their culture.”

When Fanucchi-Frontado was a business owner — she started construction company Befana and Lone Palm Café in Carpinteria — she said she was solicited for donations two to three times per week. In starting her consulting business, one goal is to help business owners field requests and decide where to spend money.

Fanucchi-Frontado sits on the board of the Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation, and she told the Business Times one way she has used her philanthropic expertise is by creating a partnership between the foundation and Santa Barbara’s Business First Bank. “The bank is a high-profile business and they want to do more than just donate money,” she said. “I helped design a logo for them, which we put inside the foundation’s brochure. That’s one easy thing to do, and when people look at those logos, they get a warm and fuzzy feeling about the company.”

Santa Barbara County is an ideal market for this type of consulting business, she said, because there are so many wealthy companies and families looking to donate to the large number of nonprofits in the community. “For me, it also helps that it’s so small and so many corporations are entwined with nonprofits. That means it can be very uncomfortable for corporations to say no to people. Employing a third party removes them from that situation,” she said.

Once Fanucchi-Frontado is certified in financial planning, which will happen within the next year if all goes as planned, she said she’ll have the mechanics to plan estates as well as put together philanthropic portfolios. Right now, she’s her only employee, but she said she plans to grow her business. “And as I get bigger, I’ll definitely steal people away from their jobs!”

1 Comment

  1. Sue Bochner says:

    It is very interesting that I am doing the exact same thing but here in Toronto, Ontario. I started by founding the Children’s Aid Foundation way back when and saw a need for corporate help with Community Investmenet but far ealier. Due to numerous requests from corporate leaders, I set up a consultancy in 1994 and have been going strong ever since. So much of what I do and what I have observed has paralleled this article. Location does not change the need and the service.