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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.


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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In the Palmetto State, Public Policy Takes Center Stage

Category: Public Policy, 
Author: Matthew L. Evans

Jun27

For more than a year, SECF has explored ways to emphasize the importance of public policy efforts at the local level, helping grantmakers get involved in the advocacy process in their own state. One state where these efforts have truly taken off is South Carolina. Last week I had the pleasure of attending two advocacy-related convenings in the state – only the latest in a series of several visits focused on policy.

At a June 19 “Advocacy Allies” gathering hosted by Together SC, a membership organization representing nonprofits in the state, nonprofit leaders, including grantmakers, from across the state came together to discuss public policy and advocacy work on behalf of the nonprofit sector in South Carolina. Over 40 attendees provided updates about their advocacy work during the 2019 legislative session and discussed strategies that worked – and lessons learned from those that didn’t. The group also discussed employing a more coordinated advocacy approach that, combined with a sound engagement strategy, would allow them to speak with a collective voice. giving advocacy in the state a more collective voice going forward. The level of enthusiasm at the event was encouraging.

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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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50th Annual Meeting Speaker Highlight: Jim Hasson

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

Jun20

This profile is part of an occasional series highlighting speakers at SECF's 50th Annual Meeting! Register by July 1 and save $100! Look for an expanded version of this profile in the next issue of SECF’s Inspiration, coming out in early July!

SECF’s 50th Annual Meeting is expected to draw more than a few guests who played a key role in the organization’s earliest days. One of them – attorney Jim Hasson – will even lead a session on the meeting’s third day.

Jim’s signature graces SECF’s Articles of Incorporation and between 1974 and 2011, he spoke at literally dozens of Annual Meeting legal update sessions. After a few years away, he’s returning this year to lead a new legal session, Compliance 101, that will provide practical guidance on best practices for some of the most common issues facing trustees and foundation staff, and the latest legal developments impacting foundations.

While SECF was founded in 1969, it didn’t become a legally distinct organization until 1972 – a process that Hasson was charged with completing.

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50th Annual Meeting Speaker Highlight: Bryan Stevenson

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

Jun13

Few people are better equipped to talk both about the South’s past and its potential than Bryan Stevenson, who will close out SECF’s 50th Annual Meeting.

Stevenson’s work as founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI), which is devoted to ending mass incarceration and excessive punishment, first brought him to national attention. Originally focused on providing legal representation to death row inmates in Alabama, where it is based, the organization is now a national leader on issues of racial justice.

Following a 2012 TED Talk that has accrued over 5.8 million views and the 2014 publication of his best-selling and award-winning memoir, Just Mercy, Stevenson rose to further prominence. His most visible achievement, however, came last year when The National Memorial for Peace and Justice and the related Legacy Museum opened in Montgomery.

The memorial, dedicated to victims of white supremacy, draws thousands of visitors every day to view the stark, minimalist columns etched with the names of lynching victims from hundreds of counties – most in the South. The Legacy Museum, a short walk away, uses powerful images, audio and artifacts to draw a direct line from the enslavement of Africans that started in the 1600s all the way to today’s mass incarceration of African-American men.

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Public Policy Briefs – June 2019

Tags: UBIT SALT 
Category: Public Policy, 
Author: Matthew L. Evans

Jun13

Periodically, SECF will provide members with updates on state and federal legislation that affects philanthropy. If you have questions related to public policy, or know of legislation at the federal or state level you would like SECF to know about, please contact Matthew L. Evans, director of public policy and special projects, at matthew@secf.org or (404) 524-0911.


House Committee to Hold Hearing on UBIT Next Week

House Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee Chairman John Lewis (D-GA) has scheduled a hearing for next week on changes to the Unrelated Business Income Tax (UBIT) that could affect foundations and the nonprofits they support.

The hearing, taking place Wednesday, June 19, will focus on the 21 percent tax on transportation-related fringe benefits that was applied to tax-exempt organizations as part the 2017 tax bill. This tax has received significant scrutiny and criticism from the charitable sector, leading many lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to call for its elimination, with several members in both chambers introducing repeal legislation.

SECF has called for the repeal of these provisions, and Lewis’s office has reached out asking for specific examples and/or member concerns about the effect of UBIT changes on organizations within the 11-state footprint. If you would like to share an example about how UBIT is affecting your foundation or grantees, please contact Matthew L. Evans, director of public policy and special projects.

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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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50th Annual Meeting Speaker Highlight: Philippe Cousteau Jr.

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

Jun06

Any conversation around the next 50 years of philanthropy -- Southern or otherwise -- would be incomplete without devoting significant time to the threats facing our environment, particularly climate change and its effect on the global ocean that covers 70 percent of the planet.

The health of our planet and its oceans will be on the main stage at SECF's 50th Annual Meeting through a presentation led by Philippe Cousteau Jr., whose family name has become synonymous with ocean exploration and conservation. Philippe, the grandson of the renowned Jacques Cousteau, will use photos and videos during his Friday morning plenary as he explores lessons learned growing up as part of a legendary family and the critical pathways we need to focus on in order to return our oceans to abundance.

"Growing up I was inspired by the work of my grandfather and father," Cousteau said in a recent interview with Australia's Grazia magazine. "[My grandfather] opened the world's eyes to the wonders beneath the waves and the need to protect and restore the health of our oceans. My father Philippe Sr. joined him and was a world-renowned filmmaker and explorer in his own right."

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50th Annual Meeting Speaker Highlight: Phil Buchanan

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

May30

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

SECF has long had a strong relationship with The Center for Effective Philanthropy (CEP) and its president, Phil Buchanan. Buchanan was a plenary speaker at the 2015 Annual Meeting and facilitated conversations at SECF's CEO Forum, and CEP reports and articles make regular appearances in the weekly Connect newsletter.

That fruitful relationship will continue at this year's Annual Meeting, when Buchanan will speak to alumni of SECF's leadership development programs, including the Hull Fellows Program, at a special reception on the meeting's second day. He's also set to facilitate a session earlier that day on how learning from failure can be a best practice regularly undertaken to benefit a foundation.

Buchanan is in-demand these days, thanks largely to his new book, Giving Done Right: Effective Philanthropy and Making Every Dollar Count. While it follows the release of several books -- David Callahan's The Givers, Anand Giridharadas's Winners Take All, and others -- that have been largely critical, Buchanan's book is rooted in a more optimistic view of the field.

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

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

May29


Note: This post is the fifth 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: Kentucky.


Kentucky Philanthropy Snapshot

First SECF Member: Foundation for the Tri-State (joined 1980)
Newest SECF Member: Lawrence and Augusta Hager Educational Foundation (joined November 2018)
Number of SECF Members: 21


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


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Southeastern Council of Foundations
100 Peachtree Street NW
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Hours:
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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.