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.

Member Highlight: Jerry Gonzalez

Category: Member Highlight, 
Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations


At last month's Annual Meeting, SECF members elected three new leaders to the Board of Trustees. Over the next three weeks, we'll profile each of them here.

Jerry Gonzalez already wore a few hats before he was elected last month to the SECF Board of Trustees -- and each of them place him at the center of changes taking place within the South and Southern philanthropy.

Jerry is a trustee of the Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation based in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Jerry is among several non-family trustees of the family foundation, giving him a unique perspective he hopes is helpful to the SECF Board.

The Babcock Foundation is also one of the most vocal funders in the region on the subject of equity, especially racial equity. SECF's own work on equity, particularly the recently announced Equity Framework, played a key role in accepting an invite to join the Board, Jerry said. 

"Given that SECF is leaning more into equity and what that means to funders across the Southeast, I felt it was a good opportunity to lend my perspective in the movement forward of this wonderful organization," he said. "It was with great enthusiasm that I accepted to be a part of that change evolving at SECF!"

As a Babcock Foundation trustee, Jerry says he's learned a lot about power dynamics, both within a family foundation and between a foundation and its grantees.

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December 2019 Public Policy Update

Category: Public Policy, 
Author: Matthew L. Evans


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.

Revamped Public Policy Section of SECF.org Provides More Resources, Tools 

Public policy and advocacy are an important priority for SECF and many of our members. To support our members already working in this area and to encourage those interested in getting started on advocacy efforts, SECF has added several new, user-friendly features to the public policy section of SECF.org. 

Members can now use SECF.org to look up their elected officials, share personal advocacy related stories, participate in advocacy campaigns, view the progress of legislation being tracked by staff and more!

Whether you're on your phone, desktop, or tablet, these public policy resources are now just a click away. You can start exploring these new features now! If you would like a guided tour of the new public policy section and its new features, you can view a recent webinar conducted by SECF staff that provides an in-depth overview. 

In addition to these new online tools, SECF now has access to FiscalNote, a leading legislative tracking service used by thousands of organizations. SECF will use FiscalNote to discover and monitor state legislative and regulatory developments while also offering members the opportunity to obtain state legislative tracking reports. 

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Member Highlight: Martin Lehfeldt and Jamil Zainaldin

Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations


Last week's 50th Annual Meeting also served as the release party for The Liberating Promise of Philanthropy: Stories of Grant-Makers in the South, the new book by former SECF President Martin Lehfeldt and Georgia Humanities President Emeritus Jamil Zainaldin that chronicles the history of philanthropy in the region, from the Civil War to the present day.

Ahead of the book's release, Martin and Jamil answered questions about their work in an interview with the book's publisher, The Storyline Group.

Q: What is The Liberating Promise of Philanthropy about?

Martin Lehfeldt: As the title suggests, it is about grant-makers (i.e., philanthropic foundations) that have been active in the South -- Northern-based ones and, later, those indigenous to the South.

Q: For your purposes, what constitutes the South?

Jamil Zainaldin: Eleven states that were formerly part of the old Confederacy: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and Tennessee.

Q: How many grantmaking foundations are there in the South today?

Lehfeldt: About 16,000, with combined assets of about $100 billion.

Q: What prompted you to write the book?

Lehfeldt: David Hammack, one of the foremost historians of philanthropy, was compiling a book about foundation activity in various regions of the United States. He asked us to contribute a chapter about the South, which did appear in his book American Philanthropic Foundations: Regional Difference and Change (Indiana University Press, 2018).

We felt there was enough material to merit a full-length book on the topic. When the SECF and the Georgia Humanities Council (a grant-making nonprofit affiliated with the National Endowment for the Humanities) expressed interest in sponsoring a history-oriented book about Southern philanthropy, we were off and running.

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An Artist's Interpretation of the 50th Annual Meeting

Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations


If you joined us last week in Atlanta for our 50th Annual Meeting, you probably noticed Ross Boone, either in the back of the main ballroom or in the outside foyer, sketching away, capturing key moments from our general sessions and thoughts from SECF members on how the organization has helped them and their hopes for the future.

These sketches, known as visual recordings, are the specialty of The SketchEffect, an Atlanta-based company we partnered with for this year's Annual Meeting. Today, we're excited to share the final versions of these recordings with you. We also want to give a special thank you to Northern Trust, whose sponsorship allowed us to capture this year's meeting in such a unique, fun way.

Want to see the real things? Come by our office sometime soon -- several of them will be mounted on our walls!

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50th Annual Meeting Session Materials Now Online

Category: Annual Meeting, 
Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations


All SECF members now have access to presentations and handouts from our 50th Annual Meeting held last week in Atlanta. Whether you were able to join us or not, you can benefit from the information shared by philanthropic leaders, experts and thought leaders in breakout sessions and from our plenary stage.

You can access these materials, as well as our recap of the meeting and a gallery of images, from our 50th Annual Meeting webpage. This page will also be updated soon to include videos of Opening Keynote Isabel Wilkerson, our Founders Circle Award ceremony, the debut of SECF's Equity Framework and plenary sessions featuring Andy Goodman, Philippe Cousteau, Jr., and a panel conversation on philanthropy's ability to support nonprofit local media.

Please note that you will need to login in order to access session materials. If you believe materials are missing, please contact David Miller, director of marketing and communications, at david@secf.org.

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SECF50 Celebrates the Past, Marks Turning Point in Journey Toward Equity in the South

Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations


After more than two years of planning by SECF staff and members, the 50th Annual Meeting did not disappoint, bringing more than 1,000 people together in Atlanta to mark five decades of philanthropic excellence in the South and begin writing a new chapter with equity as its foundation.

Inspiring opening and closing keynotes created an arc that grounded the 50th Annual Meeting in both the history of the region and the challenges and opportunities facing it today. Isabel Wilkerson, author of The Warmth of Other Suns, opened up the Annual Meeting by discussing the Great Migration of African-Americans from the region to escape Jim Crow and the terror of lynching, yet facing other forms for racism upon arriving in the North.

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

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


Note: This post is the eleventh and final 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: Virginia.

Virginia Philanthropy Snapshot

First SECF Members: The Lincoln-Lane Foundation (joined 1974)
Newest SECF Members: Charlottesville Area Community Foundation, Mary Morton Parsons Foundation, The Robert G. Cabell III and Maude Morgan Cabell Foundation (joined May 2019)
Number of SECF Members: 27

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

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November 2019 Public Policy Update

Category: Public Policy, 
Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations


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 Matthew L. Evans, SECF's director of public policy and special projects, at matthew@secf.org.

Legislative Updates

Private Foundation Excise Tax

The philanthropic sector has made a push this year to pass legislation simplifying the private foundation excise tax. While SECF has been working in conjunction with sector colleagues in Washington to push for a flat, 1 percent rate, the latest developments in Congress indicate a revenue-neutral 1.39 percent rate is the most likely to make it into law.

Last week SECF joined with sector leaders in sending a letter to House Ways & Means Committee Chairman Richard E. Neal (D-MA) and Ranking Member Kevin Brady (R-TX) informing them that the sector is united in its support of including the simplified 1.39 percent rate in a year-end legislative package.

Due to the efforts of sector leaders presenting a unified voice on simplification, on October 31, Rep.  Danny K. Davis (D-IL), a member of the Ways & Means Committee, introduced H.R. 4953 to modify the excise tax on investment income of private foundations. This legislation is co-sponsored by Rep. George Holding (R-NC).

SECF has, for several years, supported the simplification of the excise tax on private foundations via a single rate or flat tax. This rate would replace the current two-tiered system, which varies between 1 and 2 percent based on a foundation’s giving. 

Additionally, SECF’s Public Policy Agenda includes a provision calling for the simplification of the excise tax, through repeal or replacement with a single rate/flat tax. You can view our position statement on the issue at SECF.org.

SECF will continue its advocacy efforts on this issue and will work with colleagues in Washington toward a resolution.

We will continue to keep you updated as the legislative process continues. If you have any questions or comments, please contact Matthew L. Evans.

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50th Annual Meeting Speaker Highlight: Katharine Wilkinson

Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations


Conversations around climate change typically revolve around reducing or eliminating the use of fossil fuels – a big idea requiring massive changes to the globe’s energy infrastructure.

While there’s no doubt that switching to renewable sources of energy is critical to stabilizing temperatures, it’s also not an area where philanthropy, especially small and medium-sized funders, is able to make much of an impact.

But what about bike paths? Or educating girls in developing countries? Or preserving coastal wetlands?

All of these ideas, and many others that are regularly the focus of philanthropic investment, are tools to help address climate change. They’re all among the 100 solutions put forward by Project Drawdown, a climate change mitigation project that shines a light on the many ways humanity can reduce its carbon footprint.

Katharine Wilkinson, vice president of communications and engagement at Project Drawdown, will highlight some of these strategies, and how foundations can help promote them, at this year’s Annual Meeting.

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Fall 2019 Issue of SECF’s Inspiration Magazine Now Available!

Tags: Inspiration 
Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations


The latest issue of Inspiration, SECF’s quarterly magazine dedicated to sharing stories of Southern philanthropy’s impact, is now available at SECF.org, with print editions arriving this week in the mail as well.

The fall 2019 issue includes:

  • A look into the health equity work being pursued by the Foundation for a Healthy St. Petersburg, which was established six years ago and, since day one, has been focused on addressing the root causes of health outcome disparities in its community.
  • The final installment of our Then, Now & What’s Next series marking SECF’s 50th Anniversary. Our retrospective look at SECF’s history and impact on the field concludes by examining the evolution of foundation leadership in the South. Significant changes in the last 50 years include an increasingly diverse crop of leaders and growing complexity in duties and responsibilities.
  • FSG, which will present a special postconference session at the Annual Meeting, walks through out changes made internally to advance equity can help a foundation do the same in its community.

Also in this issue: a message from SECF President & CEO Janine Lee, updates on new hires and promotions, a round-up of the latest members to join the SECF family and more, including a profile of a longtime SECF staff member who will attend her final Annual Meeting this year.

A print copy of Inspiration is mailed to each member organization as well as individual Hull Fellows alumni. Members can also login to SECF.org to download a PDF version.

If you have a story idea for an upcoming issue of Inspiration, contact David Miller, director of marketing and communications, at david@secf.org!

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Southeastern Council of Foundations
100 Peachtree Street NW
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Visiting SECF: Parking, Directions & Nearby Hotels

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