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. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19 we have decided to cancel the 2020 Red Feather Ball. This year, the Red Feather Ball will look very different in its virtual campaign format as we all do our part to stop the spread of COVID-19. 

We have adapted the Red Feather Ball into a virtual campaign this year, and in the spirit of the Red Feather symbol, we are asking our friends and supporters to give to our United | Together Red Feather Campaign. For more information and to view our unique online auction, please visit www.unitedwaysb.org/unitedtogether.

In the meantime, we’ll have photos to remind us of Red Feather Ball until we can get dressed up again for a night of fun and dancing once it is safe to do so!

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

Image of a table at the 2019 Red Feather Ball