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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.


SECF Members Responding to COVID-19 Coronavirus

Category: Coronavirus, 
Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations

Mar19

Dozens of SECF members have taken action in response to the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak. This includes numerous community foundations have have launched rapid relief funds with support from private foundations, as well as other support targeting specific areas, ranging from housing to the arts. Across the region, the outpouring of support has been largely geared toward supporting nonprofits that work with marginalized populations who are most at risk as the result of the outbreak and its increasing economic consequences.

If your foundation has taken action in response to the pandemic and is not shown here, please contact David Miller, director of marketing and communications, at david@secf.org and we will add you to the list below!

For direct donation links to all rapid response funds, visit our COVID-19 Resource Hub!

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COVID-19 Resource Round-Up

Category: Coronavirus, 
Author: Stephen Sherman

Mar19

Your SECF colleagues may have advice to share about steps they are taking in response to the outbreak – our Member Listservs (login required) provide an easy way to reach out and learn from each other.

Our staff is also available to provide support – call the SECF offices at (404) 524-0911 and we can help connect you with other resources and information.


Staying Updated


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COVID-19 Coronavirus: What Foundations Need to Know

Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations

Mar16

UPDATE (March 16, 2020): New guidance from the CDC released March 15 recommends postponing all gatherings of 50 people or more for at least two months.

The SECF staff is working remotely but remains available to support our members. You can reach our team via e-mail or by calling (404) 524-0911. Read more about our response here.


UPDATE (March 12, 2020): We have added new information from the CDC on steps foundations can take to slow the spread of the virus. See the links below in the How Foundations Can Prepare section.


UPDATE (March 8, 2020): New guidance from the CDC recommends that anyone in a higher-risk group for becoming very sick due to COVID-19 should "stay home as much as possible." Those at higher risk include "older adults and people who have severe, chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease."


More than 1,000 cases of COVID-19 coronavirus have been reported in the United States since January 21 – this includes cases reported in 10 of 11 states in the SECF footprint.

The spread of the virus has sparked discussion of not only how philanthropy can best respond, but also of how foundations can best operate in an environment where fears of the disease are running high and where separating fact from rumor and misinformation can be difficult.

SECF has put together a collection of resources to help members deal with the impact of this growing pandemic. In addition, our staff is available to provide further assistance if needed – please contact us at (404) 524-0911 if you need our support.

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SECF's Response to COVID-19 Coronavirus

Author: Janine Lee and Regan Gruber Moffitt

Mar12

Like many of you, SECF has been closely monitoring developments related to the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, which was declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organization on March 11. As a membership association, we want to provide you with information on how you and your organization can best respond to this outbreak. We also want to update you on how SECF is responding, including the impact on our events and programs.

Last week we posted a collection of resources on SECF.org to help foundations take action to protect their employees and visitors – foundations, like any other workplace, should follow these guidelines and make their employees aware of actions they can take to limit the spread of the virus. We will continue to update this post as new information and resources become available. The World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are also continually updating their COVID-19 pages with new information. SECF.org also includes links to resources from the Center for Disaster Philanthropy on how philanthropic organizations can support response and recovery to the outbreak.

Several of our members have contacted us regarding the status of upcoming SECF programs. The health and safety of our members and staff is our highest priority – in order to reduce the need for traveling and maintain social distancing, we have made the following modifications to our program schedule:

  • The Atlanta Foundations Forum event scheduled for April 9 has been postponed. We are working to reschedule this event for a date later in 2020.
  • We will announce by Friday, March 20, whether the CEO Forum, currently scheduled for April 23-24 in Sarasota, Florida, will need to be moved to another date later this year.
  • No other changes to our program lineup have been made at this time; however, we will continually assess whether events need to be rescheduled as the situation develops.

The SECF staff will remain available to support you during this time. However, out of an abundance of caution, our staff will begin working remotely on Friday, March 13 through Friday, April 3, at which point we will evaluate whether to reopen our offices. We believe we have the technology in place to make this an easy transition, though we do ask for your flexibility and patience over the first two days of this process in case technical complications arise.

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Member Highlight: Betsy Covington

Category: The Bridge, 
Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations

Mar12

Earlier this month SECF took the wraps off the first episode of its new podcast, The Bridge, which shares stories of how foundations are using various forms of philanthropic capital to bring people together and spark dialogue that leads the way to solutions.

Sparking dialogue is quite literally the goal of On the Table, the initiative that forms the basis of the first episode of The Bridge, which features SECF President and CEO Janine Lee in conversation with Lisa Adkins of the Blue Grass Community Foundation and Betsey Covington of the Community Foundation of the Chattahoochee Valley.

Covington, president and CEO of the community foundation based in Columbus, Georgia, told Lee that On the Table is not only fun, but that “you really start seeing change across your community” once people come together for small group conversations.

“The amazing thing is when you weave bonds closer in a community, people get to know folks they didn’t know before. They hear stories they’ve never heard before,” she said. “We believe that fosters empathy, shared connection, a sense of community – we’re in this together. It’s ‘u’s rather than ‘us and them.’”

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Member Highlight: Lynette Bell

Category: Member Highlight, 
Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations

Mar05

This week marked not only the launch of the Truist Foundation, affiliated with the bank formed by the merger of SunTrust and BB&T, but also the announcement of the foundation’s first president, Lynette Bell.

Bell says that while the organization will build on the charitable legacies of both companies, including SunTrust’s historical presence in the Southeast, the Truist Foundation will take its own approach to philanthropy.

“The Truist Foundation is a new entity with new strategic giving priorities,” Lynette says. “The Truist Foundation strives to better the quality of life of individuals and communities. We partner with strong, innovative nonprofit organizations to increase their impact and expand their reach.”

At launch, the foundation’s four focus areas are leadership development, economic mobility, thriving communities and educational equity. As it advances these priorities, it will embrace a formal grant application process and, importantly, a new board that includes three independent community members.

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Check Out the First Episode of SECF’s New Podcast, The Bridge!

Category: The Bridge, 
Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations

Mar05

Today SECF launched its first podcast, The Bridge. Hosted by President & CEO Janine Lee, The Bridge shares stories of the ways foundations are bringing together people in their communities to spark dialogue and lasting change. This new offering is one of the first initiatives to come as a result of our Equity Framework.

Each episode of The Bridge will focus on a particular program or initiative SECF members are leading in their communities. Our first installment, "On the Table," explores how two foundations in the region – the Blue Grass Community Foundation in Lexington, Kentucky, and the Community Foundation for the Chattahoochee Valley in Columbus, Georgia – are using their convening power to engage community members in conversations around pressing issues and challenges, find areas of shared interest and agreement and begin working on solutions.

Both foundations are using a platform called On the Table, which aims to bring groups of people together for in-person conversations that take place throughout the community over the course of a single day.

On The Bridge, you’ll hear Betsy Covington, president and CEO of the Community Foundation for the Chattahoochee Valley, and Lisa Adkins, president and CEO of the Blue Grass Community Foundation, share with Janine how they brought On the Table to their communities, the impact it has had, and what advice they’d give to other foundations seeking to spark similar conversations.

The Bridge, which will release two more episodes this year, can be streamed below and is also available on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts and other podcast providers! We hope you enjoy listening!

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March 2020 Public Policy Update

Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations

Mar03

Each month, SECF provides members with monthly updates on the latest public policy developments in Washington and state capitols around the region, analyzing their possible impact on the charitable sector. If you would like to see an issue featured in a future Public Policy Update, contact Jaci Bertrand, SECF's vice president of member engagement, at jaci@secf.org.


Last Chance to Register for Foundations on the Hill!

Time is running out to register for the public policy advocacy event of the year! Next week, dozens of SECF members will head to Washington to educate policymakers on the need for laws and regulations that promote charitable giving and a strong philanthropic sector – and we want you to be one of them!

Foundations on the Hill aims to inform and educate Congress about philanthropy, create visibility for philanthropy on Capitol Hill, advocate on issues affecting foundations and communities, and encourage Congress to view foundations as a resource and partner on key public policy issues.

By joining your colleagues at FOTH, you will help elected officials understand the value of philanthropy to the social and economic fabric of our country, and to stress the importance of philanthropy and government working as equal partners to ensure the continued health of our sector.

No matter your level of public policy experience, you’ll receive all the support you need – both the SECF staff and State Captains will provide guidance before and during our time in Washington.

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Member Highlight: Lisa Adkins

Category: Member Highlight, 
Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations

Feb27

We're just days away from the debut of SECF's new podcast, The Bridge, which will share stories of how foundations are using various forms of philanthropic capital to bring people together, bridge divides within their communities, and help spark dialogue that leads the way to solutions.

The inaugural episode of The Bridge features two community foundation leaders in the region: Betsy Covington of the Community Foundation for the Chattahoochee Valley in Columbus, Georgia, and Lisa Adkins of the Blue Grass Community Foundation in Lexington, Kentucky. Both talked with SECF President & CEO Janine Lee about the On the Table initiative, which began in Chicago and has since spread to more than 30 communities across the country.

On the Table aims to bring groups of people together for in-person conversations that take place throughout the community over the course of a single day. On The Bridge, Adkins said her foundation was stunned by the outcome the first time they organized On the Table in 2017.

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SECF Staff Highlight: Olivia Murray

Tags: SECF Staff 
Category: Member Highlight, 
Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations

Feb13

SECF's spring 2020 intern, Olivia Murray, came to our offices already armed with plenty of knowledge on the issues Southern philanthropy works to address. What she hopes to gain in the weeks ahead, she says, is perspective on the role foundations play in promoting equity and opportunity.

"I was drawn to SECF through my interest in nonprofit organizations as a vessel for social and economic progress," she says. "I wanted to learn more about how foundations choose which organizations to fund and how these funds impact the communities closest to me. SECF provided the perfect opportunity to educate myself in these areas, as well as take part in serving foundations that provide much-needed support around the Southeast."

Olivia, a senior at Georgia State University, has already worked with staff on this week's Philanthropy Essentials program and assisted with research in preparation for next month's Foundations on the Hill. She expects to continue focusing on public policy in the weeks ahead – an area that aligns well with her major, political science.

Olivia also has a strong interest in how states in the Southeast handle criminal justice issues. An earlier internship at the Southern Center for Human Rights, she says, reaffirmed her commitment to practicing civil rights law at a career.

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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.