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.


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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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: Andy Goodman

Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations

May16

This profile is part of an occasional series highlighting speakers at SECF's 50th Annual Meeting! Register by July 1 and save $100!

SECF's 50th Annual Meeting will mark the close of one chapter and the beginning of the next -- part of an ongoing story of philanthropy in the South, its growth and evolution, and its power to transform lives and communities.

Within that large, overarching story are many others, being written every day by foundations and the people who lead them. Yet people and organizations can easily get caught up in the day-to-day, unable to appreciate the powerful, long-running narratives they help write through their work. Too often, these stories go untold.

Andy Goodman, who will take the main stage during the second day of the Annual Meeting, has devoted his career to changing that. As the co-founder and director of The Goodman Center, and author of Storytelling as Best Practice, he argues that stories are integral to organizational success.

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Who's Taking the Main Stage at SECF's 50th Annual Meeting?

Category: Annual Meeting, 
Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations

May02


For five decades, SECF’s Annual Meeting has brought together not only the best of Southern Philanthropy, but also experts and thought leaders from across the country to connect, engage and inspire one another in ways that propel transformative change in our region, enrich its communities and improve the lives of its people. This year in Atlanta, at our 50th Annual Meeting, we will honor our past, look back on what we’ve learned and assess where the South is today.

SECF’s 50th Annual Meeting: Writing Our Next Chapter is not a culmination or conclusion – it is the close of one chapter and the beginning of the next! We’re starting our next 50 years in a big way, with a collection of keynote and plenary speakers who collectively will look at some of the biggest issues facing our region, country and planet today and offer insights on what role philanthropy will have, and the tools it can use, in the years and decades ahead.




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An Incredible Year Sets Up SECF for An Even Better 2019

Author: Gilbert Miller

Dec12

When my plane took off from Louisville's airport, I could see the Ohio River and the bridges that spanned it, reaching out into Indiana. The cloud cover was low, and the image quickly dissolved into white, leaving me to reflect on the meeting I was leaving behind.

It's hard to sum up an SECF Annual Meeting. It's one part family reunion, one part conference, one part tent revival, one part continuing education, and one part party. In 72 hours, we cover a lot of ground, and I remain amazed each year by all that happens for the betterment of our membership.

This year, however, felt different. From all corners, I heard talk of a "feeling," of a sense of something intangible that wove itself to the entirety of the event. Attendees felt more "together" than they had in the past, and the conversations outside in the halls were of partnerships and collaborations. Embracing the theme, it is hard to not feel like bridges were being built, or at least, that bridges in disuse were being crossed once again.

Looking back on the year, it is hard not to see those same bridges being built across our entire membership. As chair, the view I am afforded is awe-inspiring, giving me great hope for the times ahead.

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49th Annual Meeting Spotlights Work to Bridge Divides

Category: Annual Meeting, 
Author: David Miller

Nov14

Last week, more than 600 philanthropic professionals, experts and thought leaders came together in Louisville for three days focused on how foundations can best address divisions within our communities, our region and even our field.

At SECF's 49th Annual Meeting, the theme "Come Together. Bridge the Divide." resonated throughout the conference. A number of sessions looked at the many fault lines that exist in society today, including racial and gender inequity, political polarization, and even divides between philanthropy and the communities and people it seeks to support.

The theme also ran throughout the Annual Meeting's keynote and plenary sessions. Mark Gerzon, author of The Reunited States of America, got the event off to a strong start as he discussed words and methods foundations can use to bring community dialogue away from us vs. them and instead channel civic energy, participation and creative problem-solving to spark collaboration that leads toward innovative solutions.

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