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.


Responding to COVID-19, and More, in... Nashville, Tennessee

Category: Coronavirus, 
Author: Amy Fair

May21

This post continues a series highlighting the responses of SECF members to the COVID-19 pandemic in their communities. We will use this series to highlight partnerships, coalitions and innovative examples of giving that help those affected by this crisis. This installment was provided to SECF by Amy Fair, vice president of donor services at The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee.

If your foundation is involved in a program you would like to see highlighted here, contact David Miller, director of marketing and communications, at david@secf.org.


Disaster Dispatch from Nashville: Tornado Recovery in the Midst of COVID-19

With the New Year being 2020 and the 10th anniversary of the historic 1,000-year floods in Tennessee, there were exhibits planned, news stories being prepared all around the city of Nashville, and an opinion piece in The New York Times titled “Nobody Cared When Nashville Drowned” from Nashville-based author and journalist Margaret Renkl.

To commemorate this natural disaster’s impact on our community, we decided that we didn’t want our activities to join the chorus of those looking back, although we knew these reflective activities would be beneficial. Instead, we set in motion a plan to look ahead and plan for the next disaster – we just didn’t know it would arrive so soon.

The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee’s history with supporting and funding disaster recovery in our community and elsewhere is nearly as long as our organizational history, which began in 1991. In partnership with donors, we have provided relief funding through the years for responding to disasters, including floods, hurricanes, mass shootings, tornadoes, typhoons, and wildfires. But our most significant role has been at home as a named partner in Metro Nashville and Davidson County’s Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan (CEMP). In this role, we provided $15 million in funding in Nashville and surrounding Middle Tennessee communities for relief and recovery efforts following the May 2010 Flood over the course of two years.

We also participated as a member of our local VOAD (Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster). VOAD continued to meet for several years after the funding of recovery was complete, but eventually went dormant when the concerns of disaster no longer felt like an immediate threat to our community, and when the members named in the CEMP agreement with the city continued to meet on a quarterly basis with Nashville’s Office of Emergency Management. 

Read More


Responding to COVID-19 in... Hartsville, South Carolina

Author:

May14

This post continues a series highlighting the responses of SECF members to the COVID-19 pandemic in their communities. We will use this series to highlight partnerships, coalitions and innovative examples of giving that help those affected by this crisis. If you are involved in a program you would like to see highlighted here, contact David Miller, director of marketing and communications, at david@secf.org.


Even though small towns are often just as vulnerable to the health and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, they also lack many of the tools and resources available in larger communities to help with response, relief and recovery.

Place-based philanthropy has a vital role to play in situations like these. One example comes from Hartsville, South Carolina, where the Byerly Foundation has emerged as a key player in the community’s response.

Hartsville, a city with a population of less than 8,000 in the northeast corner of the state, hasn’t been among a number of rural communities in the region to emerge as “hot spots” for the pandemic. However, it is still vulnerable to the considerable effects of school and business closures.

“All of us have been responding the various issues of the pandemic since the beginning of March. Hartsville, like everywhere else, ended up with more questions about what might be happening than specific issues that could be attacked,” said Richard Puffer, the Byerly Foundation’s executive director. “It became apparent to our city officials very early that this pandemic was going to have impacts that were never anticipated.”

Puffer and the foundation’s Board were eager to support the community it has called home since it was established in the 1990s. Thankfully, they were able to draw plenty of ideas and inspiration from the well-connected network of other South Carolina grantmakers responding to the pandemic.

Read More


Announcing the First Selection of the Chair's Book Club: The Sun Does Shine

Author: Regan Gruber Moffitt and Robert Dortch

May14


We are excited to invite you to join the new SECF Chair’s Book Club. Our hope is that the books we read and the discussions we have will inspire us to find common ground, build meaningful relationships, and deepen our understanding of equity.
The first book, The Sun Does Shine: How I Found Life, Freedom, and Justice by Anthony Ray Hinton, builds on the deeply moving and passionate keynote by Bryan Stevenson at the SECF’s 50th Annual Meeting last November.  Stevenson, who spent his career helping those who were unjustly accused or wrongfully convicted, called upon philanthropy to be proximate to the places, people and problems that our organizations support, to change existing narratives, to remain hopeful and, most importantly, to do things that are uncomfortable and inconvenient. Anthony Ray Hinton was one of those who was represented by Stevenson. 

The Sun Does Shine is Hinton’s memoir of peace, purpose, and eventually freedom after serving 30 years on Alabama’s death row after being wrongfully convicted. The brilliantly written personal narrative instructs, inspires, and creates an imperative for action. 

SECF is providing access to the eBook version of the title through our recently launched Lending Library, or you can obtain a copy through your local bookseller or public library. Sign up here to participate in the Chair’s Book Club and we’ll soon share more information on how to get started and how to engage in discussion groups with your fellow SECF members.

Regan Gruber Moffitt is chief strategy officer at the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation and chair of the SECF Board of Trustees. Robert Dortch is vice president of program and community innovation at the Robins Foundation and chair-elect of the SECF Board.

Read More


Responding to COVID-19 in... Asheville, North Carolina

Author: Marsha Davis

May07

This post continues a series highlighting the responses of SECF members to the COVID-19 pandemic in their communities. We will use this series to highlight partnerships, coalitions and innovative examples of giving that help those affected by this crisis. This installment was provided to SECF by Marsha Davis, co-director of organizational strategy and practice at The Tzedek Social Justice Fund, formerly known as the Amy Mandel and Katina Rodis Fund. 

If your foundation is involved in a program you would like to see highlighted here, contact David Miller, director of marketing and communications, at david@secf.org.

Accelerating Change ­– A Model for a Funding Response to COVID-19

Like many of you, our fund has been rocked by this global pandemic. At the Tzedek Social Justice Fund (formerly known as the Amy Mandel and Katina Rodis Fund), our staff are juggling the lack of childcare and the time-consuming, sometimes traumatizing, preparation to protect the lives of the vulnerable individuals in our families. But, organizationally, what we hold is small in comparison to our grantees. 

Given our commitment to funding organizations that are working in the areas of LGBTQ justice, racial justice, and combatting anti-Semitism, particularly in Asheville, North Carolina, many of the leaders and organizations that we support are also suffering from the same injustices they work to combat. 

As an immediate response to our current grantees in Asheville, we diverted funds from future projects to provide these organizations much needed financial relief. The crisis has disrupted the operations of most of our grantees and many sources of funding have disappeared overnight. 

However, we are now months into the shutdown of North Carolina and emerging public data indicates that we need to shift our response to prepare for a year-long experience of instability and uncertainty in our community. How does a small family fund like ours build a nimble and strategic response? 

Read More


Southeast Responses Needed for 2020 Grantmaker Salary and Benefits Survey

Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations

May07

SECF is pleased to partner with the Council on Foundations (COF) and the United Philanthropy Forum to encourage participation in the 2020 Grantmaker Salary and Benefits Survey.

The annual Grantmaker Salary and Benefits (GSB) Survey provides grantmakers with the most comprehensive data on foundation staff and board compensation. Through this partnership, SECF is able to provide custom salary tables for Southeast grantmakers each fall. 

Your participation in the GSB survey is needed – the greater the participation, the greater the insights for the sector and for your fellow SECF members. 

What’s the benefit for participating organizations?

All survey participants (both COF members and non-members) 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 otherwise sells for $438 but is offered free to participating organizations. Reports and data will be released in October 2020.

How to Participate:

If you participated in the 2019 survey, go to Benchmark Central (https://bmc.cof.org/) and log in using your cof.org credentials to start the survey. Need help with your login? Email research@cof.org

If you did not participate in the 2019 survey, email research@cof.org with the first and last name, title, and email for each individual needing access.

Note that multiple individuals from your organization can work on your submission simultaneously, but each team member will need their own login and it is recommended that you appoint one person to coordinate your submission. 

See this page for answers to frequently asked questions as well as a list of documents you’ll need to complete the survey.

Thank you in advance for completing the GSB survey! Please submit your responses by Sunday, May 31. For more information, visit cof.org/2020GSBSurvey or email research@cof.org.

Read More


May 2020 Public Policy Update

Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations

May05

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.


Impact of Unemployment Insurance Provisions on Nonprofits

You may have seen commentary online concerned about the impact of regulations related to unemployment insurance on nonprofits. However, a close reading of these rules indicates the impact only applies to certain grantee organizations.

Labor Department guidance issued on April 27 instructs states to bill certain tax-exempt employers immediately for 100 percent of the costs of unemployment benefits paid to employees laid off as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, this provision applies only to a small group of tax-exempt organizations known as “reimbursing employers.” It appears only some of the nation’s largest charitable organizations will fall into this group, but the complete impact is unknown. Most either pay unemployment taxes directly into their state’s trust funds or are so small that they pay nothing.

We are continuing to track the impact of these regulations – if you are hearing concern from your grantees about any possible impact, please let us know!

Read More


Responding to COVID-19 in... Charlottesville, Virginia

Category: Coronavirus, 
Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations

Apr30

This post continues a series highlighting the responses of SECF members to the COVID-19 pandemic in their communities. We will use this series to highlight partnerships, coalitions and innovative examples of giving that help those affected by this crisis. If you are involved in a program you would like to see highlighted here, contact David Miller, director of marketing and communications, at david@secf.org.


The rapid and catastrophic economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic have been especially devastating to low-wealth neighborhoods, where residents often live paycheck-to-paycheck and don’t have the savings to cover emergencies.

With families throughout the region suddenly unable to pay rent, many foundations have quickly adapted to provide creative solutions that provide direct support to those that need it the most. For the Charlottesville Area Community Foundation in Virginia, these solutions have included rent abatement for residents of a mobile home park and a helpline that allows households across a seven-county region to request aid.

“What we’re really focused on is trying to stretch outside the bounds of what a community foundation typically does by partnering to respond quickly and directly to the needs we see in the community,” said Brennan Gould, the foundation’s president and CEO. “Our rapid response has also been about deploying philanthropy in places that other systems would not or could not go.”

One of those places is the Southwood Mobile Home Park, a mostly Latinx community of about 1,500 people, one-third of whom are children. Incomes in Southwood were already well below the median for the Charlottesville area – when the economic impacts of the pandemic hit, they hit hard, Gould said.

Read More


SECF's Values & Guiding Principles Seen Throughout Pandemic Response

Author: Janine Lee

Apr23

Note: This letter from SECF President & CEO Janine Lee originally appeared in the Spring 2020 issue of Inspiration. SECF members can view and download the latest issue of Inspiration here.


Dear Friends, 

As I write this, our country is in the grips of a public health emergency unlike anything we have ever seen. The COVID-19 coronavirus has brought public life in America to a halt – schools have been closed, church services canceled, and mass gatherings banned. By time you read this, our health care system could be completely overwhelmed, with nearly all Americans living under a state of lockdown. 

This virus has no cure, but we are not powerless in the face of it. Frontline health care workers – doctors, nurses, emergency medical technicians, hospital support staff – are putting their lives on the line and doing all they can to address the health consequences of the pandemic. We in philanthropy have assumed a different role: addressing the outbreak’s effects on our communities – particularly nonprofit organizations whose existence is threatened even as they work to support vulnerable populations and marginalized communities. 

Community foundations in every state in our region have launched rapid response funds designed to distribute resources quickly and effectively. Many of these funds have attracted significant support from private foundations. We have kept a running list of these funds – one that continues to grow – on our COVID-19 Resource Hub at SECF.org/COVID-19

In several states, strong coalitions and coordinated efforts have emerged. In Kentucky, the One Louisville Fund reflects a partnership between local government, the Community Foundation of Louisville, the James Graham Brown Foundation and a corporate partner, Humana. In South Carolina, the One SC Fund is the product of a partnership between the South Carolina Grantmakers Network, the nonprofit community, the local United Way and the Central Carolina Community Foundation. 

Read More


Responding to COVID-19 in... Birmingham, Alabama

Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations

Apr23

This post continues a series highlighting the responses of SECF members to the COVID-19 pandemic in their communities. We will use this series to highlight partnerships, coalitions and innovative examples of giving that help those affected by this crisis. If you are involved in a program you would like to see highlighted here, contact David Miller, director of marketing and communications, at david@secf.org.


Even as essential workers have put their health at risk and endured long hours during the COVID-19 pandemic, many of the supports that allow them to work under normal circumstances are no longer available – including child care.

In Alabama, The Women’s Fund of Greater Birmingham is working to fill a critical gap created by the closure of schools and day care centers. Their response will be fueled by money raised through the new ROAR for Women Fund.

“ROAR aims to provide direct relief and recovery for an industry that is one of the most critical infrastructures in our state: child care,” said Melanie Bridgeforth, president and CEO of The Women’s Fund, a grantmaking public charity. “The funds will largely support women-owned businesses powered by women employees. ROAR is also giving essential workers – the majority of whom are women – the ability to continue their vital work as the crisis stretches on.”

The need for ROAR came into focus quickly once the severity of the pandemic became clear, Bridgeforth said.

Read More


Data Shows the South’s Communities Face More Risk From COVID-19 Pandemic

Author: Stephen Sherman

Apr23


A new tool assessing the impact of COVID-19 shows that the South has a greater proportion of at-risk communities than any other region of the country.

The Surgo Foundation’s COVID-19 Community Vulnerability Index (CCVI) provides a clear warning for policymakers and philanthropy in the Southeast. The CCVI measures how vulnerable different communities are in their ability to mitigate and respond to the pandemic.

The Surgo Foundation, a nonprofit headquartered in Washington, D.C., works to integrate behavioral science and artificial intelligence to create precise solutions to social and health problems. The organization has recently devoted all its efforts toward the COVID-19 pandemic and is working to help policymakers understand who is most vulnerable, where the disease is spreading fastest, and the ways in which people are complying with and interpreting social distancing.

The CCVI is based on a composite of both indicators specific to COVID-19 and the CDC’s social vulnerability index (SVI), which measures the expected negative impact of disasters. These indicators are grouped into six themes: socioeconomic status, household composition, minority status, housing and transportation, epidemiological factors, and access to health care. 

As the county-level map of the CCVI shows below, the South has a greater proportion of at-risk communities than any other region. In fact, 71 percent of all high and very high vulnerability communities are concentrated in the South. Not only are eight of the top 10 vulnerable counties situated in the Southeast, but seven of those are located in one state: Mississippi. This analysis echoes similar alarms about the vulnerability of the South that have been raised in recent articles in The Atlantic and in The Guardian newspaper in the United Kingdom. While much of the nation’s attention has been focused on New York and other hot spots, the Southeast region as a whole remains at high risk from the pandemic.

Read More


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

Visiting SECF:
All staff are working remotely at this time but can still be reached via email and by calling (404) 524-0911.

Hours:
Monday-Thursday from 9:00am–6:00pm (ET)
Friday from 9:00am–12:00pm (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.