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2018 Member Survey: Foundations Value SECF Network, Have Strong Interest in Equity

Attendees at this year's Annual Meeting in Louisville received an advance look at the results of SECF's 2018 Member Survey - the Key Findings Report, now available on SECF.org, reveals critical insights into the operations and interest of foundations across the region.

Here are some highlights from this year's findings:

Staff sizes are gradually increasing: In our 2016 survey, 63 percent of respondents reporting having five or fewer full-time staff members - that number went down to 51 percent in this year's survey. Staff sizes vary widely based on the type of foundation. Community foundations averaged 12 full-time employees, while family foundations average four staff members.

Community and networking remain major draws: Nearly half of respondents, 47 percent, said they joined SECF to be part of a philanthropic community. Nearly three-quarters said networking opportunities were a top SECF benefit. Research on philanthropic trends was the second-highest rated benefit, followed closely by leadership development and legislative updates.

Members are interested in advancing diversity, equity and inclusion, but want to do more: 61 percent of respondents said they're making an effort to advance DEI, but need to do more. New offerings from SECF focused on DEI within philanthropy garnered strong interest from 40 percent of members, tied only with offerings focused on engagement strategies. While most members, 65 percent, report holding informal discussions on DEI, fewer have taken more concrete steps.

Members are going beyond financial capital to achieve goals: Majorities of respondents said they deployed reputational, intellectual and social capital in their work. The survey also revealed an interesting split based on asset size - smaller foundations relied strongly on social capital, while large funders leveraged their reputations to their benefit.

Most public policy involvement was at the local level: 50 percent of respondents reported being involved with public policy at the local level, with lower percentages at the state (43 percent) and federal (29 percent) levels. A majority of respondents listed expanding the charitable deduction to non-itemizers, the so-called universal charitable deduction, as a top policy priority.

SECF conducts its Member Survey every two years. As we did with the 2016 survey, SECF partnered with Geo Strategy Partners, an independent research firm, to collect responses. This year's findings reflect responses from 221 people representing 166 unique foundations. In some cases, responses reflect information received from the most senior member of an organization.

You can view the entire Key Findings Report online now! We've also provided access to this year's Annual Report - highlighting SECF's key accomplishments and performance on several key metrics.

Thank you to everyone who responded to this year's Member Survey. Your input will be instrumental as SECF plans its events and programs in the year ahead and beyond!

David Miller is SECF's director of marketing and communications.


Southeastern Council of Foundations
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Mission: The Southeastern Council of Foundations serves, connects, strengthens and champions philanthropy and philanthropic infrastructure in the South.