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Engage - The SECF Blog

BEST + NEXT PRACTICE 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: Martin Lehfeldt and Jamil Zainaldin

Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations

Nov21

Last week's 50th Annual Meeting also served as the release party for The Liberating Promise of Philanthropy: Stories of Grant-Makers in the South, the new book by former SECF President Martin Lehfeldt and Georgia Humanities President Emeritus Jamil Zainaldin that chronicles the history of philanthropy in the region, from the Civil War to the present day.

Ahead of the book's release, Martin and Jamil answered questions about their work in an interview with the book's publisher, The Storyline Group.


Q: What is The Liberating Promise of Philanthropy about?

Martin Lehfeldt: As the title suggests, it is about grant-makers (i.e., philanthropic foundations) that have been active in the South -- Northern-based ones and, later, those indigenous to the South.


Q: For your purposes, what constitutes the South?

Jamil Zainaldin: Eleven states that were formerly part of the old Confederacy: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and Tennessee.


Q: How many grantmaking foundations are there in the South today?

Lehfeldt: About 16,000, with combined assets of about $100 billion.


Q: What prompted you to write the book?

Lehfeldt: David Hammack, one of the foremost historians of philanthropy, was compiling a book about foundation activity in various regions of the United States. He asked us to contribute a chapter about the South, which did appear in his book American Philanthropic Foundations: Regional Difference and Change (Indiana University Press, 2018).

We felt there was enough material to merit a full-length book on the topic. When the SECF and the Georgia Humanities Council (a grant-making nonprofit affiliated with the National Endowment for the Humanities) expressed interest in sponsoring a history-oriented book about Southern philanthropy, we were off and running.

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An Artist's Interpretation of the 50th Annual Meeting

Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations

Nov21

If you joined us last week in Atlanta for our 50th Annual Meeting, you probably noticed Ross Boone, either in the back of the main ballroom or in the outside foyer, sketching away, capturing key moments from our general sessions and thoughts from SECF members on how the organization has helped them and their hopes for the future.

These sketches, known as visual recordings, are the specialty of The SketchEffect, an Atlanta-based company we partnered with for this year's Annual Meeting. Today, we're excited to share the final versions of these recordings with you. We also want to give a special thank you to Northern Trust, whose sponsorship allowed us to capture this year's meeting in such a unique, fun way.

Want to see the real things? Come by our office sometime soon -- several of them will be mounted on our walls!




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SECF50 Celebrates the Past, Marks Turning Point in Journey Toward Equity in the South

Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations

Nov20

After more than two years of planning by SECF staff and members, the 50th Annual Meeting did not disappoint, bringing more than 1,000 people together in Atlanta to mark five decades of philanthropic excellence in the South and begin writing a new chapter with equity as its foundation.


Inspiring opening and closing keynotes created an arc that grounded the 50th Annual Meeting in both the history of the region and the challenges and opportunities facing it today. Isabel Wilkerson, author of The Warmth of Other Suns, opened up the Annual Meeting by discussing the Great Migration of African-Americans from the region to escape Jim Crow and the terror of lynching, yet facing other forms for racism upon arriving in the North.

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11 States in 11 Months: Southern Philanthropy in... Virginia

Tags: Virginia 
Category: 50th Anniversary, 
Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations

Nov06


Note: This post is the eleventh and final in a series that will run throughout our 50th Anniversary year. Each month, we'll focus on philanthropy in one of the 11 states in the SECF footprint, using both current and historical data while highlighting a variety of voices. This month's state: Virginia.


Virginia Philanthropy Snapshot

First SECF Members: The Lincoln-Lane Foundation (joined 1974)
Newest SECF Members: Charlottesville Area Community Foundation, Mary Morton Parsons Foundation, The Robert G. Cabell III and Maude Morgan Cabell Foundation (joined May 2019)
Number of SECF Members: 27

Learn more about Virginia foundations from SECF’s Southern Trends Report!


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50th Annual Meeting Speaker Highlight: Katharine Wilkinson

Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations

Oct24

Conversations around climate change typically revolve around reducing or eliminating the use of fossil fuels – a big idea requiring massive changes to the globe’s energy infrastructure.

While there’s no doubt that switching to renewable sources of energy is critical to stabilizing temperatures, it’s also not an area where philanthropy, especially small and medium-sized funders, is able to make much of an impact.

But what about bike paths? Or educating girls in developing countries? Or preserving coastal wetlands?

All of these ideas, and many others that are regularly the focus of philanthropic investment, are tools to help address climate change. They’re all among the 100 solutions put forward by Project Drawdown, a climate change mitigation project that shines a light on the many ways humanity can reduce its carbon footprint.

Katharine Wilkinson, vice president of communications and engagement at Project Drawdown, will highlight some of these strategies, and how foundations can help promote them, at this year’s Annual Meeting.

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11 States in 11 Months: Southern Philanthropy in... Tennessee

Category: 50th Anniversary, 
Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations

Oct24


Note: This post is the tenth in a series that will run throughout our 50th Anniversary year. Each month, we'll focus on philanthropy in one of the 11 states in the SECF footprint, using both current and historical data while highlighting a variety of voices. This month's state: Tennessee.


Tennessee Philanthropy Snapshot

First SECF Members: Lyndhurst Foundation, The Benwood Foundation (joined 1972)
Newest SECF Member: Marlene and Spencer Hays Foundation (joined September 2018)
Number of SECF Members: 29

Learn more about Tennessee foundations from SECF’s Southern Trends Report!

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50th Annual Meeting Speaker Highlight: Shan Arora

Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations

Oct17

The 50th Annual Meeting includes some new items on the agenda, including a series of intimate Salon Dinners on Thursday night that will allow small groups of attendees to explore key issues and converse with thought leaders at unique locations throughout Atlanta.

One of those venues, the Kendeda Building for Innovative Sustainable Design, is meant to inspire change across the entire Southeast. Built to the world’s most rigorous sustainable design and performance standard for buildings, it will harvest more energy than it uses on site through renewable sources and collect, treat and reuse more water than it needs on an annual basis.

The building, located on the Georgia Tech campus, opened in September, marking a significant achievement for Shan Arora, the building’s inaugural director. In a recent article reflecting on the building’s opening, Arora focused on how it can promote health and happiness.

“The first thing visitors typically notice is the amount of wood -- a natural material known to have a calming effect on humans. Or else it’s the daylight and the view of trees through the very windows that are letting the light in,” he wrote. “For most people, it’s only a matter of time before a relaxed smile spreads across their face.”

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11 States in 11 Months: Southern Philanthropy in... South Carolina

Category: 50th Anniversary, 
Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations

Sep25


Note: This post is the ninth in a series that will run throughout our 50th Anniversary year. Each month, we'll focus on philanthropy in one of the 11 states in the SECF footprint, using both current and historical data while highlighting a variety of voices. This month's state: South Carolina.


South Carolina Philanthropy Snapshot

First SECF Members: The Self Family Foundation, The Springs Close Foundation (Founding Members – joined 1970)
Newest SECF Member: Jolley Foundation (joined February 2019)
Number of SECF Members: 34

Learn more about South Carolina foundations from SECF’s Southern Trends Report!


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50th Annual Meeting Speaker Highlight: Anne Wallestad

Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations

Sep19

Of all the relationships within a foundation, the one between trustees and the CEO may be the most critical. Funding decisions, operations, culture, mission and vision can all be affected by how a board and a top executive work together – or don’t.

BoardSource, the sector’s leading voice on nonprofit board leadership, focused on this relationship in last year’s report, Foundation Board Leadership: A Closer Look at Foundation Board Responses to Leading with Intent. At this year’s Annual Meeting, BoardSource President & CEO Anne Wallestad will lead trustees in a conversation around the report’s findings and explore how they can build better relationships with foundation executives.

Developing a strong and effective board, Wallestad has argued, is about more than expertise in grantmaking or managing an endowment. Great board leadership, she has said, requires purpose, values, flexibility and – once those qualities are established – building power and influence.

“By defining your core purpose, you’re able to get very clear on what’s most important in terms of your work -- what’s absolutely central in terms of what you seek to accomplish, as well as what’s not,” Wallestad said at BoardSource’s 2017 Leadership Forum. “Defining your core purpose, and doing so with the full engagement and participation of your board, unlocks new clarity, meaning, and forward momentum, and is a critical first step in unleashing the full leadership potential of your organization.”

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50th Annual Meeting Speaker Highlight: John Thornton

Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations

Sep05

Local news outlets have seen precipitous declines in audience and circulation since the emergence of the Internet – a downward spiral that accelerated significantly following the economic crash that began in 2008.

Yet in 2009, with the country still mired in the worst downturn since the Great Depression, venture capitalist John Thornton decided to make a big investment in local news by raising funds – including $1 million of his own – to launch the Texas Tribune.

Did Thornton see a business opportunity where others didn’t? Did he believe there was still money to be made in local news?

Not exactly.

“I’m not saying there isn’t a for-profit model out there,” Thornton told The Austin Chronicle in 2009. “It’s just not a good business, and it never will be again.”

What it could be, however, is an incredible opportunity for philanthropic investment, especially for funders interested in promoting civic engagement and a strong civil society.

“I really did become passionate about this idea that an informed society, a functioning democracy, requires public service journalism,” 

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

Visiting SECF: Parking, Directions & Nearby Hotels

Hours:
Monday-Thursday from 9:00am–6:00pm (ET)
Friday from 9:00am–3:00pm (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.