History of the Red Feather Ball

Image of 1940's Red Feather ad
    Historic advertisement for Giving


In 1997, the Red Feather Ball was created by Katherine Abercrombie after hearing the story of the Red Feather and how it came to symbolize giving during the Depression era Community Chest campaigns. The Red Feather was used on posters and fundraising materials as a symbol of giving for decades. As you may or may not know, United Way of Santa Barbara County was established as the Santa Barbara Community Chest before becoming United Way in 1971. 

Katherine and her husband, Stewart, co-chaired the event for the first three years. It was Katherine with her flair for style, who suggested that the women wear red and the men wear red bow ties; and a time honored tradition was created. In 2000, they received the award which had been renamed in their honor the Abercrombie Community Excellence Award. In 2007, the Board of Directors for United Way of Santa Barbara County voted Katherine Abercrombie, Honorary Chair in Perpetuity.

For 24 years, this event has raised funds for United Way initiatives and programs. In the fall of 2020, we were unable to hold an in-person event due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The event took the form of a virtual campaign that brought together donors from across the county and beyond to help support our programs. 

For our 24th annual celebration, we are honored to be able to come together to hold an in-person Red Feather Ball. Our theme this year is Birds of a Feather, to commemorate a year of community and partnership that carried us through the effects of a global pandemic. Our programs are in need of more support than ever, and your contributions can help us to make the most of our upcoming summer events. Join our flock and celebrate how far we've come here in the Santa Barbara County community. 

Click the images to see photos from past Red Fed Feather Balls

Image of a table at the 2019 Red Feather Ball