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.


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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50th Annual Meeting Speaker Highlight: Daranee Petsod

Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations

Aug29

Just as the treatment of immigrants, asylum-seekers and other refugees has emerged as a regular topic in the news, in the halls of Congress and in the race for president, it has also risen as an area of concern for philanthropy in the Southeast and beyond.

Fortunately, foundations seeking to support these populations, or deepen their existing work, have a go-to resource available to them: Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees, led by Daranee Petsod, the organization’s president. 

At this year’s Annual Meeting, attendees will be able to hear from Petsod in person. “How Did We Get Here on Immigration?”, a session set for the meeting’s first day, will help participants understand the history of immigration in the United States and how it shapes and informs current-day practices.

In a recent letter addressing several recent news stories focused on immigrants – ICE raids in Mississippi, the ongoing detention crisis at the Southern border, and mass shootings in Gilroy, Calif., and El Paso, Texas, that targeted Latinx people – Petsod urged foundations to make support for immigrant families an ongoing part of their regular grantmaking.

“Add funding for rapid response to your overall annual grantmaking budget,” she wrote. “Having readily available funds for this purpose will allow you to make grants quickly when these events occur, particularly outside of your geographic area, issue focus, or grantee pool.”

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

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

Aug28


Note: This post is the eighth 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: North Carolina.

North Carolina Philanthropy Snapshot

First SECF Members: Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation, Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation, Foundation for the Carolinas (Founding Members – joined 1969-70)
Newest SECF Member: Herschel and Cornelia Everett Foundation (joined May 2018)
Number of SECF Members: 35


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


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50th Annual Meeting Speaker Highlight: Rhonda Broussard

Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations

Aug14

While many foundations these days have made equity a greater priority, not all of them are starting from the same place. Some are still in a learning phase, others are ready to act, and others have already done equity-based work, but are looking to expand further.

At this year’s Annual Meeting, attendees will have the opportunity to hear about the equity journeys of their peers and, no matter where their organization is starting from, explore how to increase its “equity footprint.”

Helping lead this conversation will be Rhonda Broussard, the founder and CEO of Beloved Community in New Orleans. The organization, which focuses on policy advocacy and capacity-building, states plainly in its motto that “equity is our only hope.” Broussard leads the organization in its work to promote equity in schools, in workplaces and in the home.

“What will it take to make appreciable, sustainable change on the equity front? Beloved Community was born out of that question and the recognition that education alone can’t solve for society’s inequities,” Broussard said in a recent interview with LaPiana Consulting. “I believe that we can build our communities differently than we have been -- encompassing social justice, business/nonprofit, and government perspectives. These groups may have different reasons for being on the train, but if we design right we can get going in the same direction.”

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50th Annual Meeting Speaker Highlight: Dr. Geoffrey Nagle

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

Aug08

Conventional wisdom is often unkind to the education system in the United States – it holds that schools aren’t doing a good job in general, or that a quality K-12 education is harder to come by for students of color or those from low-income households. In total, it results in a system that leaves students unprepared for a competitive global economy.

Dr. Geoffrey Nagle, president and CEO of the Erikson Institute, agrees that more needs to be done to ensure students are prepared for college and beyond once they finish high school. But he doesn’t place the blame on K-12 education – he believes many students are at a disadvantage before they even set foot in kindergarten.

“The story we’ve heard about our schools may not be the real story,” he said in an interview with WBEZ radio in Chicago. “Schools are doing a lot better than we think they are doing, but they are struggling to overcome the deficits students have when coming into the schools. School failure isn’t really about the schools -- it’s about how we prepare students for school. And we also have to understand the adversity children face and how that impacts them.”

Nagle encourages parents, educators and government to place more focus on the 0-3 years of a child’s life – what he calls “the first 1,100 days.” During this time, many children receive no formal education at all, and often go all the way to age 5 without entering a classroom.

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50th Annual Meeting Speaker Highlight: Alberto Ibargüen

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

Jul25

Earlier this week the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation announced a major investment in research that will help us better understand how technology is transforming American democracy and the way we receive and engage with information.

The $50 million initiative will support cross-disciplinary research at 11 universities and research institutions. This will include $5 million for the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Institute for Data, Democracy, and Politics to help the public, journalists, and policymakers understand digital media’s influence on national dialogue and opinion, and to develop sound solutions to disinformation. 

Spearheading this work is the Knight Foundation’s president, Alberto Ibargüen, who will also kick off a plenary discussion at the 50th Annual Meeting that asks a crucial question: Can Philanthropy Preserve the Pillars of Democracy?

For Ibargüen, the answer to that question is an emphatic “yes.”

“We’re living the most profound change in how we communicate with each other since Gutenberg invented the printing press,” Ibargüen said in announcing Knight’s latest initiative. “The internet has changed our lives and is changing our democracy. We have to take a step back and a step forward. To understand what is actually happening, we need independent research and insights based on data, not emotion and invective. To go forward, citizens must be engaged, and including university communities in the debate is a step in that direction.”

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

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

Jul25


Note: This post is the seventh 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: Mississippi.


Mississippi Philanthropy Snapshot

First SECF Member: The Phil Hardin Foundation (joined 1973)
Newest SECF Member: Woodward Hines Education Foundation (joined 2017)
Number of SECF Members: 16



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

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

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

Jun27


Note: This post is the sixth 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: Louisiana.


Louisiana Philanthropy Snapshot

First SECF Member: The Rosa Mary Foundation (joined 1973)
Newest SECF Member: Methodist Health System Foundation (joined 2018)
Number of SECF Members: 13




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


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