Engage - The SECF Blog


SECF's Blog

Engage, SECF’s blog, is a space for SECF members, staff and partners to share their thoughts on the latest trends and best practices in philanthropy. Engage is also used for important announcements about upcoming SECF events and programs.

Do you have a story or insight you’d like to share with our members on Engage? Contact David Miller, director of marketing and communications, at david@secf.org or at (404) 524-0911 to discuss your idea.

Member Highlight: Terri Lee Freeman

Category: Member Highlight, 
Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations


This year may mark Terri Lee Freeman's first SECF Annual Meeting, but it's a testament to her experience in the field that she'll mark the occasion as a panelist during this year's Breakfast with Champions plenary.

Terri, a trustee of the Community Foundation of Greater Memphis, has also distinguished herself as president of the National Civil Rights Museum, a role she's held since 2014, and as the former president of the Community Foundation for the National Capital Region in Washington, D.C.

"As a relative new board member of the Community Foundation of Greater Memphis, I was shocked that SECF would think I would add value to the panel," Terri said. "But as I realize my unusual background, I think I can bring an interesting perspective to the panel. Additionally, as issues of diversity, inclusion and equity continue to be top of mind for the funding community, I see my current role as lending some expertise on that issue."

Terri says Annual Meeting attendees will hear a new perspective at this year's Breakfast with Champions. While previous offerings of the session have brought CEOs to the stage, this year will shift the focus to the boardroom.

Read More

Small Foundations Can Have a Big Impact with Effective Communications

Author: Kristen Keely-Dinger and Jennifer Oldham


Hiring communications staff is usually not at the top of mind for small foundations. Administrative and grant-focused staff usually take priority, and while those positions are necessary, having a communications-focused staff member can also be beneficial to smaller foundations.

As a small health legacy foundation with five staff, we understand the need for efficient use of resources. We want to remain lean and nimble, but we also want to have a big impact. We have seen how focusing on communications can help a foundation meet our missions and advance our causes.

In 2013, our board adopted a new strategic plan which included "promoting our work" as one of the key objectives of the plan. Prior to this time, we typically used only our website and targeted emails to communicate about the work of the foundation. With this new strategic objective, it became clear that we were going to need to focus more of our resources into communicating not only with our grantees but also within the wider community.

Read More

An Innovative Approach to Launching and Sustaining Student Success

Category: Grantmaking, 
Author: Karen Lambert


Navigating college for the first time can be daunting, especially when you’re the first from your family to do so.

This notion of firsts is what caught the Peyton Anderson Foundation’s attention when Middle Georgia State University presented plans for the Center to Launch and Sustain Student Success (CLASS).

The proposed 8,000-square-foot Macon campus center will be a key resource in helping prospective, incoming and current students navigate the process of applying to college, securing financial aid, meeting with academic advisors, registering for classes and transitioning into their professional careers, all within one central space.

Middle Georgia State University is Georgia’s most affordable public university. With diverse degree offerings, central locations (five campuses throughout Middle Georgia) and tuition and fees totaling approximately $4,600 a year, the university takes pride in its accessibility for students seeking postsecondary education, especially when they are the first in the family.

Read More

Member Highlight: Claire Webber

Category: Member Highlight, 
Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations


A decade ago, Claire Webber was just starting to become involved in her family's foundation, while also reintroducing herself to the South.

"I attended my first SECF Annual Meeting, green and returning to my hometown of Atlanta, after living on the West Coast for some time," she said. "I was eager to dive into the philanthropic community and the Annual Meeting was the perfect place to re-connect."

That event was a transformational experience.

"I am so grateful to be part of such a wonderfully engaged group of thought leaders, who kindly let me sit at the adults' table," Claire said. "Between the sessions and social offerings, I was able to re-engage and haven't looked back."

Read More

SECF’s Southern Trends Report Now Updated with 2016 Grantmaking Data

Category: Research & Data, 
Author: Stephen Sherman


The Southern Trends Report, SECF's statistical dashboard on Southern Philanthropy, has just been updated with new information reflecting grantmaking across the region in 2016.

The Southern Trends Report, the result of a partnership between SECF and Foundation Center, provides the latest on foundation numbers and assets, giving priorities, and trends in regional giving. Launched in 2016, the Southern Trends Report provides the latest data on philanthropic trends in the Southeast.

Each year, the site is updated with a new information on grants shared with Foundation Center through its eReporting program. The inclusion of 2016 grants information marks the report's third update since launch, providing an increasingly clear picture of Southern grantmaking - one that will only improve in the years ahead!

Here are some of the trends in Southeast philanthropy that we've identified:


Read More

Member Highlight: Christopher T. Gates

Category: Member Highlight, 
Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations


For several weeks, SECF has been asking members to submit stories of how their own work has helped bridge divides in their communities - it's not too late to make your own submission - for use in this year's opening keynote featuring Mark Gerzon, author of The Reunited States of America.

In addition to our opening keynote, however, the stories submitted by members will also form the basis of another session at this year's meeting: Philanthropy Bridging Divides. The session, taking place immediately after the opening keynote, will feature not only Gerzon, but also Chris Gates, one of the country's leading thinkers on philanthropy and its relationship with civic engagement.

Previously, Gerzon has said funders have been reconsidering their approach to civic engagement in the wake of the 2016 election.

"I think a great many funders have been thinking about how they can increase the impact of their work, where they might need to double down, and where they need to make changes and adjustments," he said in a 2017 interview with Philanthropy News Digest.

Read More

2018 Salary Data for Southeast Grantmakers Now Available on SECF.org!

Category: Member Benefits, 
Author: Stephen Sherman


Southern foundations appear to be in the middle of a hiring boom. In SECF’s 2018 membership survey, which will be released in full at the 49th Annual Meeting, more than half of responding organizations reported having added new staff within the past two years.

Community foundations were the most likely to have added staff, but health legacy and independent foundations were not far behind. Looking ahead, just about a third of member respondents anticipated hiring new staff within the coming year.

Just like grantmaking, hiring and salary decisions are done best when guided by thoughtful analysis and current data, and SECF members have access to both. Each year, SECF partners with the Council on Foundations (COF) to produce comparative analyses of salary data for foundation staff and CEOs in the Southeast. These reports include the average, median, minimum and maximum salaries for a range of 36 staff positions at all levels in foundations based in the 11 Southeast states.

Read More

Member Highlight: Jerry Gonzalez

Category: Member Highlight, 
Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations


At this year's Annual Meeting, the Breakfast with Champions of Southern Philanthropy will, for the third year in a row, put SECF members on the main stage for a rich conversation about leadership within the field and the region.

This year, however, comes with one change: All the champions on stage are trustees. One of them, Jerry Gonzalez, a trustee at the Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation, says attendees will benefit from the perspective he and other champions will bring to the plenary session.

"Trustees provide great perspective and leadership for many foundations and have a great responsibility for carrying forward the mission and vision of the foundations to which they serve," he said. "Being asked to share my thoughts is really an honor and a humbling experience."

The wide-ranging session will once again be moderated by Mark Constantine, president and CEO of the Richmond Memorial Health Foundation. Gonzalez said he hopes he and the other trustees will have the chance to talk about an issue important to his own work: equity and its connection to policy.

Read More

Scaling Philanthropy: The Emergence of Creative Capital for Social Solutions

Category: Investing, 
Author: Mark Crosswell


Over the past several years, many of us in the philanthropic community have watched and wondered about impact investing and what it means, if anything, for fueling social change. Whether you've read about it in blogs, witnessed panel discussions or actually put your toe in the water, for the longest time most of us have been confused on how a social good could come from an investment that also yields a financial return.

Along the way, I also noticed that Georgia and the Southeast were trailing other regions regarding the use of impact capital with philanthropy.

Apparently, I haven't been alone. In late 2016, I joined a group of other concerned Georgians who came together to tackle one question: How might we accelerate impact investing throughout Georgia?

We call ourselves the Georgia Social Impact Collaborative, or GSIC, and our goal is simply to educate stakeholders and provide onramps for investors to find ways to invest in social outcomes. Some of us are with foundations or nonprofits, some are private or angel investors and a few are involved with startups, social enterprise and funding social ventures. Yet all of us were truly perplexed on why impact investing in the Georgia and the South was not nearly as developed as in other parts of the country.

Take a look at the West Coast, where social innovation reigns - venture capitalists and angel investors are investing in social startups of all kinds. Or the upper Midwest, where nonprofit banks have eclipsed the $1 billion mark by lending money for community development. Or the Northeast, where national foundations invest loans and equity in social enterprises and the public sector is willing to "pay for success."

Read More

HHS' Administration for Children and Families Is Ready to Partner with Southern Funders

Category: Collaboration, 
Author: Carlis V. Williams


This year, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Administration for Children and Families (ACF) is reaching out - we want to understand the work done by Southern foundations and explore areas of shared concern where collaboration is possible.

As ACF's regional administrator for the Southeast, known as Region IV, I see opportunity to work with foundations in the region in several areas, including welfare-to-work, adoption, human trafficking, fatherhood and healthy marriages. We're looking for opportunities to share and exchange perspectives and viewpoints with those interested in, or already actively working on, these priorities and others. In addition, ACF is eager to share our expertise relating to grant funding activity as well as research, evaluation and measurement.

ACF's mission is to promote the economic and social well-being of America's most vulnerable populations and communities. Our programs serve a wide variety of groups and aim to foster:

  • families and individuals empowered to increase their own economic independence and productivity;
  • strong, healthy, and supportive communities that have a positive impact on the quality of life and the development of children;
  • partnerships that enable solutions which transcend traditional agency boundaries; and services planned, reformed, and integrated to improve needed access.

In addition to the above, ACF's programs also aim to foster a strong commitment to working with low-income people, refugees, and migrants to address their needs, strengths, and abilities. This includes my personal commitment to increase engagement and strengthen combined public/private impact through partnership work with the Southeast's philanthropic community.

Read More

Southeastern Council of Foundations
100 Peachtree Street NW
Suite 2080
Atlanta, GA 30303

Hours: M–F from 9:00am to 6:00pm (ET)

Phone: (404) 524-0911
Fax: (404) 523-5116
Mission: The Southeastern Council of Foundations serves, connects, strengthens and champions philanthropy and philanthropic infrastructure in the South.