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.


SECF’s Southern Trends Report Updated with New Data

Category: Research & Data, 
Author: Stephen Sherman

Sep09

The Southern Trends Report, SECF’s statistical dashboard on Southeast foundations, has recently been updated with new data reflecting giving through 2017. This marks the third annual update since SECF partnered with the Foundation Center (now Candid) to develop this interactive resource on philanthropy in the region.

While some grants data for 2017 is still being collected, here are some key figures on the state of the region:

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July 2019 Research Update: Highlights from Recent Reports in the Field

Tags: SECF Staff 
Category: Research & Data, 
Author: Stephen Sherman

Jul18

SECF’s Research Library, accessible only to members, is regularly updated with the latest reports, websites, case studies and other resources we’ve cultivated to help Southern funders stay abreast of trends in the field and learn about emerging best practices in philanthropy.

Periodically, SECF’s research and data manager, Stephen Sherman, looks at some of the latest additions to the Research Library. If you would like to suggest a resource or have other feedback, contact Stephen at stephen@secf.org or at (404) 524-0911.


The Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Toolkit for Consultants to Grantmakers
National Network of Consultants to Grantmakers

This toolkit, intended primarily for philanthropy consultants but also of use to grantmakers themselves, is designed to address the lack of concrete tools to facilitate institutional and community change. Divided into two parts, the first section offers a concise collection of resources on diversity, equity and inclusion. Resources are grouped into six categories: frameworks, grantmaking strategy, planning and evaluation, organizational culture and leadership, research, and engaging communities and partners. Each resource is accompanied by a brief description and link to the relevant website or report online.

The second part of the toolkit features perspectives from consultants in the field with their recommendations on best practices for working with foundations to address diversity, equity and inclusion.

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Giving USA Shows Mixed Findings for Charitable Giving in 2018

Category: Research & Data, 
Author: Stephen Sherman

Jul10

The latest estimates on charitable giving from Giving USA show that individuals, foundations and corporations gave more than $427 billion to U.S. nonprofits in 2018. Giving by individuals accounted for 68 percent of the total ($292 billion), giving by foundations came in at 18 percent ($76 billion), corporations gave around 5 percent ($20 billion), and gifts by bequest made up about 9 percent ($40 billion). 

Depending on how overall giving is calculated, 2018 saw either a slight increase (0.7 percent) from the prior year when measured in current dollars or a small decline (-1.7 percent) if adjusted for inflation. This ambiguity reflects the complex factors affecting charitable giving last year, not the least of which were the tax changes taking effect as a result of the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act in late 2017. 

Growth in total giving essentially remained flat as increases in giving by foundations and corporations made up for the decline in individual contributions. Giving by foundations was at an all-time high, totaling $75.9 billion and accounting for its largest share of overall giving to date. This was a 7.3 percent increase over foundation giving in 2017, or a 4.7 percent increase when adjusted for inflation. Giving by individuals, on the other hand, fell by 3.4 percent when adjusted for inflation. The share of overall giving from individuals fell to 68.3 percent, down from around 70 percent in 2017. 

This decline follows a longer-term trend in which the share of giving from individuals has fallen from around 83 percent in the late 1970s. The dip in individual giving could also be attributed to more recent developments, however. 

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Get on the Map and Share the Story of Your Foundation's Grantmaking

Category: Research & Data, 
Author: Stephen Sherman

Jun13



Last week, nonprofit news site ProPublica announced that the public can now search the full text of nearly 3 million IRS filings from U.S. nonprofits and foundations. This free database of searchable filings includes Forms 990, 990-EZ and 990-PF that were filed electronically with the IRS since 2011. That accounts for about two-thirds of nonprofits’ tax filings in recent years.

This type of text search has been available in subscription databases before, but not open to the general public as is this tool. With Congress and the IRS pushing for mandatory e-filing, it is only a matter of time before all nonprofit filings are available online in machine-readable format.

One of the implications for private foundations is that lists of grantee organizations will be easily searchable online. However, as many will attest, rarely do these lists tell the full story of a foundation’s grantmaking.

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2019 Grantmaker Salary and Benefits Survey Now Open

Author: Stephen Sherman

May16

SECF is pleased to partner with the Council on Foundations and the United Philanthropy Forum to encourage participation in the 2019 Grantmaker Salary and Benefits Survey.

The annual Grantmaker Salary and Benefits (GSB) Survey provides grantmakers with the most comprehensive data on foundation staff salary and compensation data. The 2019 survey also includes questions related to board compensation and demographics.

Your participation in the GSB survey is needed – the greater the participation, the greater the insights for the sector.

What’s the benefit for participating organizations?

All survey participants will receive a copy of the full GSB report, the board compensation report, and access to COF’s benchmarking platform to create custom salary reports. The full report and board compensation report retail for $538, but are offered free to participating organizations. Both reports will be released in October 2019.

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Research Update: Highlights from Recent Reports in the Field

Tags: SECF Staff 
Category: Research & Data, 
Author: Stephen Sherman

Apr04

The first quarter of 2019 has seen a number of new reports released that will be of interest to foundations. Here we offer some key findings and highlights of a few recently-published works. These and other reports are profiled in our Research Library, available exclusively to members (login required). Browse over 150 research reports, websites, case studies, and other resources that we’ve cultivated to help Southern funders stay abreast of trends in the field and learn about emerging best practices in philanthropy. If you would like to suggest a resource or have other feedback, contact Stephen Sherman, SECF’s Research and Data Manager, at stephen@secf.org or (404) 524-0911.


 

The 2019 Nonprofit Employment Report
Johns Hopkins Center for Civil Society Studies

Drawing from data in the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages, this report provides insights into job growth and sector employment for nonprofit organizations. The report includes employment data from 2007-2016 and finds that jobs created by U.S. nonprofits rose by 16.7 percent during that period, compared with only 4.6 percent job growth in the for-profit sector. In 2016, nonprofits employed 12.3 million paid workers, accounting for 10.2 percent of the total U.S. private workforce. That makes the nonprofit sector a major employer and the third-largest industry in the United States, behind only retail trade and accommodation and food services and on the same level as manufacturing. The nonprofit sector is also the third-largest generator of payroll in the United States, paying more than $638 billion in wages for 2016.

 

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

Category: Research & Data, 
Author: David Miller

Dec06

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.

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

Category: Research & Data, 
Author: Stephen Sherman

Oct18

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:

 

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Philanthropic Networks Have a Powerful Role to Play in Advancing Equity

Author: David Maurrasse

Jul19

Racial inequities have persisted over generations. Social movements have challenged structural racism and encouraged the societal and policy changes required to alter various dimensions of deep-seated inequities. Whatever progress has transpired over the last several decades, recent developments have reminded us of the depth and breadth of contemporary racism. From incidents of police brutality, to the continued criminalization of people of color, to the normalizing of anti-immigrant sentiments and white supremacist thinking that were exacerbated during the 2016 elections, we have received many reminders how much work is to be done. And it is difficult to grapple with, what feels much more like movement backward in an area where so many had hoped we were on a faster track to progress with the election of Barack Obama in 2008.

In this context, conversations about race and racial equity and DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) have increased in the field of philanthropy. As philanthropic contributions are often designated to address many of the issues (education, health, etc.) in which racial disparities are highly apparent, it is no wonder more voices inside and outside of the field are wondering about the role of foundations in advancing racial equity. While there is much to be done in society at large, there is also a great deal of work required if philanthropy is going to become a reliable catalyst toward racial equity and inclusion.

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When Data Inspires a Movement: How Arkansans Are Working Together to Boost Student Reading Scores

Category: Research & Data, 
Author: Heather Larkin

Jun11

Only 37 percent of Arkansas third graders read on grade level. Thirty-seven percent. That’s according to student scores on the 2016 ACT Aspire Assessment, the state’s standardized achievement test.

Almost two-thirds of Arkansas children lack the critical early literacy skills they need to be successful throughout the rest of their educational careers and beyond. For those of us who aren’t teachers, principals or school administrators, we might wonder “What can I do about it?” A growing coalition of Arkansans are answering that question with a resounding “Take action!”

When Arkansas Community Foundation produced the first edition of our Aspire Arkansas report, we wanted to provide community leaders with better access to information that would spark conversations about community-minded solutions. Access to key facts and data about our communities can serve as a roadmap, giving us a sense of where we are now and where we can go. We’ve been working to answer the question, “What can everyday Arkansans do to move the numbers in the right direction, and what can Arkansas Community Foundation do to help?”

When we learned about the critical need to improve our kids’ reading scores, we knew we had an opportunity to find out what it could look like to join partners across Arkansas using data to spark positive change.

Here’s what we’re learning:

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