Member & Donor Stories, Garden News
November 26, 2023

Seven Questions with Board of Trustees Chair Mark Funk

By Jaime Eschette

As the Garden’s Board of Trustees chair, Mark Funk is committed to nurturing the Garden’s growth and ensuring we do everything we can to fulfill our mission. That’s why he wanted to join us for our year-end appeal season with an important message for Stock Monday (November 27), a day highlighting the benefits of giving stock for year-end giving.

The gift of stock is a unique opportunity many people are utilizing to help make a difference in our community. This means, when you participate, you’re not just donating, you’re joining a community of committed supporters who are passionate about preserving biodiversity through native plants for generations to come.

Why is Stock Monday so important? When you donate stock you’re not only providing critical funds for our horticulture, conservation, and education programs, but you also have a larger impact through a gift that is tax-deductible and avoids capital gains taxes. This win-win situation is what makes Stock Monday so special!

In addition to giving stock, many of our supporters are also choosing to provide a grant from donor-advised funds, or make a qualified charitable distribution. These methods are often more “tax-smart” than giving cash. You can learn more about these advantageous forms of giving on our website.

In this episode of “Seven Questions,” we’re walking with Mark to better understand the benefits of giving stock and learn more about his commitment to protecting native plants and habitats.

Mark, you currently serve as Board chair for the Garden, how long have you been on the board of trustees? 

[Mark] I joined the board in January 2019. I served as the chair of the Executive Committee and I’m also on the Investment and Finance Committee.  

How did you first become involved with the Garden?  

[Mark] I moved to Santa Barbara in 2017, and felt so lucky. I’ve always been drawn to botanic gardens, so I came to the Garden and discovered all the great work that’s taking place here. A friend of mine who was on the board said I should get involved – so I did!

We are so glad you did. You have an extensive history working as Chief Financial Officer of Mobile Mini. Can you tell our viewers why donating stock on Stock Monday is a “win-win” situation?  

[Mark] Hundred percent! It’s a win for the donor because if the stock has appreciated over time, you actually get a larger tax deduction. Then that appreciated stock is put to good use at the Garden for projects in conservation, horticulture, and education.

What would you tell others about the Garden that would encourage them to want to join you?  

[Mark] I think one of the best things is that up here on the hill [the Garden is located up Mission Canyon], we have 23 scientists working on 50+ projects throughout the state of California in conservation and preserving native plants. Not many people realize this!

I have heard that you have transformed your own backyard into a native species’ safe-haven! Can you tell me a little more about that? 

[Mark] Absolutely! I ripped out my water-hungry Bermuda grass and put in California native grass, which takes a lot less water and also requires a lot less maintenance. You might want to cut it once or twice a year – that’s it! I also put in manzanita, some great sages like we have here at the Garden, ceanothus, you name it. But the best part is, I have a lot more activity in my garden now. I have a lot more butterflies, more birds, and I even have a grey fox visiting!  

I’m not too investment-savvy, are there other ways that people can get involved with the Garden? 

[Mark] One hundred percent. We’re always looking for volunteers and we have a lot of volunteer programs they can check out. We also have a great gift shop and nursery that has native plants for sale. You could also become a member or give money. Every dollar goes towards this great mission. 

Thanks for sticking with us, Mark. Last question, where do you hope to see the Garden in five years and how can people’s contributions help us get there? 

[Mark] First of all, we are in this beautiful botanic garden in Mission Canyon, it’s the oldest native plant garden in the U.S. but, more importantly, the Garden is inspiring and educating people like me to put native plants in their yard. We working to educate landscapers. We are serving as a role model for cities, counties, and the state, to focus on native plants, biodiversity, and save wildlife! All of these great things are taking place here, so please join me in supporting Santa Barbara Botanic Garden.  

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Ironwood | Issue 34