BLOG

Get Ready for SECF's Member Survey

SECF places a priority on being responsive to our members – the offerings, programs, services and benefits we provide are all based on what Southern grantmakers tell us they need to build connections, develop leaders and stay current on the latest trends and emerging best practices.

Our biennial member survey is one of the primary tools we use to know what SECF members need, want and expect. Our last member survey yielded results that continue to influence the work we do – you can check out the key findings of the 2016-17 survey here.

Our 2018 member survey will begin next week. As we did two years ago, we’re working with Geo Strategy Partners, a respected research firm, to contact our members and conduct the survey. Geo Strategy Partners will be reaching out directly to our membership with a link to complete the survey online. We expect the survey to take 15-20 minutes to complete. Since we will be seeking feedback from multiple perspectives, responses will not be limited to one per organization and all staff and trustees are welcome to participate in the survey.

Read More

Registration Now Open for SECF's 49th Annual Meeting

Today's the day: Registration is now open for SECF's 49th Annual Meeting: Come Together. Bridge the Divide. The region's premiere philanthropic event will draw grantmakers, experts and thought leaders to Louisville, Kentucky, for three days of connection, ​engagement ​and ​inspiration. ​We ​will ​confront ​critical ​issues ​facing ​our ​field ​– ​rising ​economic ​inequality, ​increasing ​polarization, ​and ​questions ​about ​philanthropy's ​role ​and ​purpose ​– ​while ​celebrating ​the ​ideas ​and ​people ​that ​are ​strengthening ​the ​fabric ​of ​our ​communities ​and ​pointing ​the ​way ​to ​a ​bright ​future.

This year's meeting features a fantastic lineup of keynote and plenary speakers who will be able to speak to this moment in the history of not only our nation, but also our region and our host city. Our featured speakers are:

Mark Gerzon
Author, "The Reunited
States of America"
Lonnie Ali
Lifetime Director, 
The Muhammad Ali Center
Michael McAfee
President & CEO, 
PolicyLink
Jon Meacham
Author & Historian,
"The Soul of America"
William C. Bell
President & CEO, 
Casey Family Programs

 










Read More

Data Shows More Needs to be Done to Bring Widespread Prosperity to the South

Editor's Note: SECF is partnering with the Council on Foundations to promote the first Inclusive Economic Prosperity Convening in the South, May 23-24, hosted by The Spartanburg County Foundation. We hope you will join us for this important convening of foundation staff and trustees to learn how philanthropy can be a driving force that advances economic prosperity for all. Register today!

While economic disparities in the U.S. are widespread, nowhere in the country is the gap in economic mobility more pronounced than the South. Just look at the map below and you’ll notice the broad swath of red indicating the lack of upward mobility in the region. Raj Chetty and a team of researchers from Stanford, Harvard, and Berkeley used data from the most-recent Census and tax returns to chart the chance a child born into the bottom fifth income bracket could reach the top fifth by adulthood.

Read More

Building an Inclusive Economy

Editor's Note: This post originally appeared on the blog of the Council on Foundations (COF). SECF has partnered with COF and The Spartanburg County Foundation on a two-day convening in Spartanburg, Inclusive Economic Prosperity in the South, where we will consider the factors that make up a healthy local and regional economy that strives to be inclusive and promotes innovation. Learn more and register here!

Our economic landscape today looks very different than it did 25 years ago. This pattern of change will inevitably continue as technological advancements are rapidly introduced to the world.

To adapt to this new landscape, foundations must be willing to shift and evolve with the changing communities we serve.  Seventy-five years ago, our founder— Walter Scott Montgomery—had a vision of introducing community philanthropy to Spartanburg County to meet the needs of the entire area. His vision began with a $10,000 investment that has evolved into a $213 million philanthropic organization that is continuously working to improve the lives of Spartanburg County residents by promoting philanthropy, encouraging local engagement, and responding to community needs.

Read More

Courage to Lead (from our hearts) in Philanthropy

Editor's Note: We're sharing this post, written by former Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation Executive Director Gayle Williams, from the National Center for Family Philanthropy's blog. NCFP and SECF are partnering on the June 12-13 Courage to Lead Retreat in Asheville, North Carolina, which immediately precedes the 2018 Family Foundations Forum.

Twenty-five years of work in foundations has confirmed for me what is now emerging as a truth in the leadership field: Trustworthy relationships and emotional intelligence are at the heart of all successful leadership. Foundations are heady places where academic knowledge, analytical thinking, measurable impact, and management competence are highly valued. These are all important, but insufficient for life-giving and effective work in family foundations where complicated family dynamics are at play as staffs and boards work on complex community issues. At its heart, philanthropy is about relationships.

During my 20 years as a family foundation executive director, the Center for Courage and Renewal was a source for nurturing my skill and resilience as a leader in at least three key areas: Show Up; Be Trustworthy; Stay curious. 

Read More

Reading Between the Lines: Transportation Benefits After Tax Reform

Editor’s Note: Sandra Swirski and her colleagues at the Washington, D.C., advocacy firm Urban Swirski & Associates offer regular analysis of public policy developments of interest to Southern grantmakers – reading between the lines so you don’t have to.

Following the passage of the 2017 tax reform bill, nonprofits are re-evaluating how they determine their unrelated business taxable income (UBTI) tax, specifically in regard to transportation benefits. This week, we’ll dive into what the new transportation benefits provision could mean for your organization and your grantees, as well as what’s being done in Washington to help provide guidance.

Read More

Who Will Take the Stage at SECF's 49th Annual Meeting?

 

 

This November, SECF members will converge on Louisville, Kentucky, for an Annual Meeting focused on philanthropy’s role in bringing people together to address the challenges facing our communities. At the 49th Annual Meeting: Come Together. Bridge the Divide. we will explore how foundations operate in a polarized environment and also look inward, examining what grantmakers can do – and can do better – in order to best help the South and its people.

Read More

Reading Between the Lines: 2018 House Leadership Elections

Editor’s Note: Sandra Swirski and her colleagues at the Washington, D.C., advocacy firm Urban Swirski & Associates offer regular analysis of public policy developments of interest to Southern grantmakers – reading between the lines so you don’t have to.

This week, lawmakers returned to Washington after a two-week Easter recess, and House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) rattled Capitol Hill when he announced he won’t seek reelection this November. In this week’s column, we’ll dig deeper into the race for power in Congress.

Read More

Annual Grantmaker Salary and Benefits Survey Opens Next Week

Stephen ShermanSECF is pleased to be among 10 regional philanthropy-serving organizations from across the county to partner with the Council on Foundations (COF) on the 2018 Grantmaker Salary and Benefits (GSB) Survey.

Since 1980, the GSB Survey has provided the sector with the most comprehensive data on staff composition and compensation in the United States for grantmakers to use in planning budgets, benchmarking personnel policies and practices, determining salary levels for new and existing staff, and more.

We encourage all SECF members to participate in the 2018 GSB Survey – the greater the participation, the greater the insight.

Read More

Reading Between the Lines: Opportunity Zones

Editor’s Note: Sandra Swirski and her colleagues at the Washington, D.C., advocacy firm Urban Swirski & Associates offer regular analysis of public policy developments of interest to Southern grantmakers – reading between the lines so you don’t have to.

Tucked into the recently enacted Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 was a provision that may have slipped past you: the creation of Opportunity Zones. The Opportunity Zone provision, now drawing greater attention, creates a community economic development program that uses tax incentives to encourage long-term private investments in low-income communities nationwide. This week we’ll dig further into the new program and the potential upside and downside to you. 

Read More

Achieving the Dream through Partnership

Vince Lombardi once said, “Individual commitment to a group effort – that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.” This is the mindset we must have in our efforts to improve postsecondary outcomes for underserved students. No one can succeed alone. Because the challenges are many and the resources limited, it is essential to look for every opportunity to partner.

One such partnership opportunity is coming to Mississippi for the first time, supported by a $900,000 grant from the Woodward Hines Education Foundation. Achieving the Dream (ATD) leads a growing network of community colleges committed to helping their students – particularly low-income students and students of color – achieve their goals for academic success, personal growth and economic opportunity. This fall, Coahoma Community College and Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College (MGCCC) will join more than 220 community colleges serving 4 million students across 40 states in the ATD network.

ATD offers data-driven coaching and training for community college leaders, tapping into national datasets and assessment tools to help colleges benchmark their performance over time. Through their participation in ATD over the four-year funding period, Coahoma and MGCCC will have access to these tools to help them set priorities within seven key capacity areas: Leadership & Vision, Data & Technology, Equity, Teaching & Learning, Engagement & Communication, Strategy & Planning, and Policies & Practices. ATD will coach each college on how to use their own data to inform their actions, from the programs they offer to the policies they enact.

Read More

One Foundation, Three Perspectives on SECF's Essential Skills & Strategies

Editor’s Note: On January 31 – February 1 this year, three staff members from the Community Foundation of the Chattahoochee Valley (CFCV) attended SECF’s Essential Skills & Strategies for New Grantmakers in Atlanta. Each of them took the time to offer some thoughts on their experience.

A Few Lessons Learned
Anna Sims, Grants and Communication Associate

Oftentimes in life, the best way to learn is to just do it – to simply jump in and get to it! That’s a large part of how I’ve learned what I’ve learned as the grants and communication associate at the Community Foundation of the Chattahoochee Valley after nearly two years. Of course, I wouldn’t have it any other way, but in the hustle and bustle of our daily lives, we may have missed some key pieces to the puzzle.

Read More

Reading Between the Lines: Congress' Big Budget Deal

Editor’s Note: Sandra Swirski and Sara Barba of the Washington, D.C., advocacy firm Urban Swirski & Associates offer regular analysis of public policy developments of interest to Southern grantmakers – reading between the lines so you don’t have to.

You may recall a few weeks ago we speculated about the three buckets of tax items, prompted by last year’s tax bill, that could be addressed this year. The timing and opportunities were unclear as of that writing, but a bipartisan budget deal this week made it a lot clearer. In this week’s column, we’ll dig into the recently introduced budget deal that includes 65 pages of tax provisions, which of these three buckets those tax provisions came from, and what it could mean for the rest of the year.

Read More

Reading Between the Lines: President Trump's First State of the Union

Editor’s Note: Sandra Swirski and Sara Barba of the Washington, D.C., advocacy firm Urban Swirski & Associates offer regular analysis of public policy developments of interest to Southern grantmakers – reading between the lines so you don’t have to.

On Tuesday, January 30, President Trump delivered his first State of the Union address to Congress. Folks in D.C. waited with bated breath to see if the president would strike a unifying tone and stay on-script, and he did for the most part. This week, we’ll dig into the substance of and reaction to the SOTU, and how the priorities the president presented could involve foundations.

Read More

SECF Accepting Applications for Program Associate

The SECF staff is expanding! We're looking for qualified candidates to fill a new Program Associate position. Whoever is selected to fill this role will provide timely, efficient and effective support for SECF's grantmaker education programs while also working with key sector partners to identify and execute strategic partnership opportunities.

This position is an excellent opportunity for someone looking to deepen their experience working with grantmakers, nonprofit organizations, or membership associations. The selected candidate will join an exceptionally responsive and thoughtful team that cares about supporting grantmakers as they strive for higher performance and better outcomes.

Some of the position's primary responsibilities include:

Read More

Moving Forward - By Stepping Back to Our Beginning

This month, Central Kentucky Community Foundation in Elizabethtown, Kentucky, and Elizabethtown Community and Technical College announced a new strategic partnership. The partnership, intending to strengthen both organizations and ultimately the community, is a throwback to the birth of both organizations.

In the late 1950s, one local man, Jim Collier, rallied a few community champions to help him launch an effort to bring higher education to our region. In 1960, their work resulted in the formation of the North Central Education Foundation (NCEF). The foundation raised local money and worked with state and local officials to draft and eventually pass legislation to form the community college system in Kentucky.

NCEF raised money and purchased 227 acres for Elizabethtown Community College and, when state funding fell short, even provided the money needed to finish initial construction so the college’s first class could begin school in 1964. At the same time, NCEF also raised money for scholarships so students would be able to attend the local college.

Read More

Reading Between the Lines: More Tax Changes in 2018

Editor’s Note: Sandra Swirski and Sara Barba of the Washington, D.C., advocacy firm Urban Swirski & Associates offer regular analysis of public policy developments of interest to Southern grantmakers – reading between the lines so you don’t have to.

Republican lawmakers notched a much-needed win at the end of 2017 – a tax overhaul that had been in the works for many years. There was a quick feeling of relief among Republican lawmakers – who had failed to pass a repeal of the Affordable Care Act and still wanted a victory for President Trump’s first year in office – followed by a lot of speculation about the tax bill being rife with loopholes, omissions and mistakes.

Read More

SECF Offices Closed Due to Inclement Weather

UPDATE: Our offices will remain closed on Thursday, January 18, due to unsafe road conditions in metro Atlanta. Staff will be available by cellphone and email. Stay safe and warm, everyone!


Due to weather conditions in the Atlanta area, the SECF offices will be closed on Wednesday, January 17. Winter weather, including snow and extremely cold wind chills, has resulted in a state of emergency declaration covering 83 counties in North and Central Georgia.

Staff remain available by email and cellphone to respond to member requests. We expect that our offices will reopen on Thursday, January 18.

Read More

Exponent Philanthropy Resources for Small-Staff Foundations

Through a partnership between SECF, the United Philanthropy Forum and Exponent Philanthropy, members can take advantage of discounts on Exponent publications and programs. Keep reading to learn more about this SECF member benefit!

Exponent Philanthropy Publications

SECF members are eligible for a 20 percent discount on the following Exponent publications:

The Foundation Guidebook
This signature publication is written especially for newcomers to foundations or philanthropy. Gain the baseline knowledge to operate your foundation, including board responsibilities, tax and legal issues, administrative details, investment matters, grantmaking basics and more.

Read More

SECF Offices Holiday Schedule

The SECF offices will be closed December 22 – 26 for a holiday break. Our offices will be open with limited staff on hand December 27 – 29, with normal operations resuming Tuesday, January 2.

We wish all of you a wonderful holiday season and look forward to working with you in 2018!