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 Staff Highlight: Gratia Sullivan

Tags: SECF Staff 
Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations


The arrival of summer means a new addition to the SECF team – intern Gratia Sullivan, who comes from the Emory University Center for Ethics Servant Leadership Summer program.

Gratia, a rising senior majoring in interdisciplinary studies with a minor in sociology, says supporting SECF will give her another perspective on the nonprofit sector, where she already has extensive internship and volunteer experience.

“I was excited when I saw that SECF was accepting an intern through the program and knew that working with SECF would be an incredible opportunity to increase my understanding of effective philanthropy in hopes of entering the nonprofit sector well prepared to inspire change in the issues I care about,” she said.

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50th Annual Meeting Speaker Highlight: Andy Goodman

Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations


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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2019 Grantmaker Salary and Benefits Survey Now Open

Author: Stephen Sherman


SECF is pleased to partner with the Council on Foundations and the United Philanthropy Forum to encourage participation in the 2019 Grantmaker Salary and Benefits Survey.

The annual Grantmaker Salary and Benefits (GSB) Survey provides grantmakers with the most comprehensive data on foundation staff salary and compensation data. The 2019 survey also includes questions related to board compensation and demographics.

Your participation in the GSB survey is needed – the greater the participation, the greater the insights for the sector.

What’s the benefit for participating organizations?

All survey participants 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 and board compensation report retail for $538, but are offered free to participating organizations. Both reports will be released in October 2019.

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Youth Organizing Can Be a Powerful Strategy for Funders

Author: Eric Braxton


Part of the power of youth organizing is that it connects individual transformation to systemic change, and supporting youth-led change is an important grantmaking strategy. It brings together the right people with the right strategies to create social change and protects our other investments by cultivating a leadership pipeline for the future. From the Civil Rights Movement to current efforts for safe communities and just schools, young people from across the South have always been at the forefront of advocating for just and equitable communities. Building on this proud tradition, a new generation of Southern young people is leading efforts to advance health, justice, equity and dignity. At the same time, new research is showing that engaging young people in organizing to create lasting change in their communities is one of the best ways to support their development. Youth organizing efforts in the South have succeeded in achieving real change for their communities such as:

The Funders’ Collaborative on Youth Organizing (FCYO), in collaboration with Grantmakers for Southern Progress, The Highlander Research and Education Center, Project South, The Southeastern Council of Foundations, Southern Echo, Inc., Southern Vision Alliance and The United Way of Greater Atlanta is holding a funder briefing on June 4 from 10:00am to 5:00pm at the Loudermilk Conference Center in Atlanta, Georgia, to engage with youth leaders and local and national funders to discuss how to support young people as drivers of community change across the South. We urge funders across the region to join us.

Attendees can expect three takeaways from this interactive day:

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50 Meetings in 50 Days: The Annual Meeting from 2007 to 2018

Category: 50th Anniversary, 
Author: David Miller


Registration for SECF's 50th Annual Meeting will open later today! We’re so excited that we’re going to finish off our look at the Annual Meeting’s history with a bang by covering the meeting’s last decade (plus two more) all in one post!

2007 Annual Meeting

When: November 14-16, 2007
Where: The Homestead, Hot Springs, Virginia
Theme: Hope Springs Eternal
Notable Speakers: Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine, Ron Clark (Co-Founder, Ron Clark Academy), Randy Capps (Senior Research Associate, The Urban Institute), Joel Fleishman (Author, The Foundation: A Great American Secret – How Private Wealth Is Changing the World)

Joel Fleishman’s closing keynote was the first instance, though certainly not the last, of SECF bringing in a keynote speaker who forced philanthropy to turn a mirror on itself, for better or worse. His book, heralded as an “instant classic” by Philanthropy News Digest, was directed at the general public and aimed to demystify foundations and the broader philanthropic sector. While the book devotes substantial space to successful philanthropic initiatives, Fleishman also points out failures, shortcomings and blind spots in the field. Yet Fleishman, in the end, wants endowed philanthropy to succeed, writing “I am convinced that the foundation sector as a whole, as great as its social contribution is now and has been for most of its history, seriously underperforms its potential." Foundations can, he writes, “raise the level of their performance by reducing their insulation from beneficial external influences while retaining the independence they need."

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Member Highlight: Juanita Floyd

Category: Member Highlight, 
Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations


Regular readers of the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal are no doubt familiar with Juanita Floyd – she’s an established presence in the newspaper’s opinion section, where she serves as a community columnist.

Juanita’s column doesn’t provide sharp-tongued opinions on the political issues of the day, however. Instead, she is a voice of encouragement, urging readers to do good on behalf of their community, fight against injustice and make a positive impact on the lives of others.

“Each one of us can promote love instead of hate; promote equality and justice instead of injustice; ease suffering instead of inflicting pain; pull our neighbor and community up instead of pushing them down; build relationships with each other; and heal wounds instead of inflaming them more,” she wrote in 2018. “It is our responsibility to make a difference while we live.”

Juanita’s late mother, Bernice, is a common presence in the column. Juanita notes that despite living through the worst days of Jim Crow, she chose to focus on the good in the world and was “a change agent” in her own right.

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50 Meetings in 50 Days: The Annual Meeting from 2003 to 2006

Category: 50th Anniversary, 
Author: David Miller


Registration for SECF's 50th Annual Meeting will open May 15 – between now and then, we're going to take a look back at the history of SECF's signature event and how it's evolved over the years.

2003 Annual Meeting

When: November 12-14, 2003
Where: The Fairmont, New Orleans, Louisiana
Theme: Big But Never Easy: Philanthropy in the South
Notable Speakers: S. Frederick Starr (Author, New Orleans Unmasqued), Claire Gaudiani (Author, The Greater Good)

From his biography, S. Frederick Starr might seem like a strange choice to serve as an opening keynote for this Annual Meeting – or any of them. Starr has written or edited 20 books and hundreds of articles on Russian and Eurasian affairs. He founded the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute, speaks Russian and, aside from a relatively short stint at Tulane University, had spent little time in the Southeast.

Starr, however, was also an expert on something distinctly American, Southern and from New Orleans: jazz. A jazz clarinetist himself, Staff helped establish the Louisiana Repertory Jazz Ensemble, which has performed around the world as part of its efforts to preserve jazz as it sounded in its earliest days in the Big Easy. As the band’s site notes, “Dr. Starr played the Mississippi riverboats beginning in 1957 and is the biographer of New Orleans' premier composer, Louis Moreau Gottschalk.” The band remains active to this day and Starr is their primary contact for bookings.

This meeting took place less than two years before New Orleans was forever changed by Hurricane Katrina – the host hotel, The Fairmont, would be among the buildings severely damaged by the storm. Efforts to repair the hotel proved too costly. However, the building would eventually be purchased and renovated into a new hotel, The Roosevelt, and opened in 2009.

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50 Meetings in 50 Days: The Annual Meeting from 1999 to 2002

Category: 50th Anniversary, 
Author: David Miller


Registration for SECF's 50th Annual Meeting will open May 15 – between now and then, we're going to take a look back at the history of SECF's signature event and how it's evolved over the years.

1999 Annual Meeting

When: November 17-19, 1999
Where: The Grove Park Inn Resort, Asheville, North Carolina
Theme: Seeking Higher Ground: Philanthropy’s New Profile in the South
Notable Speakers: Ray C. Anderson (President & CEO, Interface Carpets, Inc.)

The Annual Meeting made its first of several trips to the Asheville, North Carolina’s Grove Park Inn, quickly establishing itself as a favorite location – the meeting is set to return to the resort in 2021!

While the 1999 Annual Meeting continued the practice of constituency tracks, the parts of the agenda open to all attendees displayed a strong emphasis on the environment. Sessions on smart growth, sustainability and reducing urban sprawl were offered, and the meeting also reserved the afternoon of its second day for site visits, including one focused on the Southern Appalachian environment.

The opening keynote was delivered by Ray C. Anderson, the president and CEO of Interface Carpets and the namesake of the Ray C. Anderson Foundation. Anderson was only five years removed from what he called a “spear in the chest” epiphany moment. As the foundation’s website explains:

In 1994, at the height of his success with Interface—a company he had built from a dream, grit and determination—he was challenged with a question that would define the rest of his life: "What is your company doing for the environment?" In an effort to discover the answer to that question, he read a book by Paul Hawken. The Ecology of Commerce made him aware for the first time that Interface was doing much more to harm the environment than to protect it.

This "spear in the chest" epiphany led to what Ray later called his Mid-Course Correction—the beginning of his quest to prove that sustainability was not just the right thing to do, it was the smart thing to do for business.

Anderson would die in 2011, leading to the establishment of the foundation that today continues to work for improving the environment and, in particular, combating the threat of climate change.

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

Category: Annual Meeting, 
Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations


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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State Policy Briefs - May 2019

Category: Public Policy, 
Author: Matthew L. Evans


Periodically, SECF will provide members with updates on state legislation from the Southeast and beyond 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.

Mississippi Law Will Encourage Gifts to Community Foundation Funds

Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant recently signed a law (SB 2210) creating the Endow Mississippi Program. The legislation creates a program designed to “promote philanthropic investments in local community development programs and activities, and to enhance the quality of life for Mississippi's children, families and communities.” The law allows Mississippi tax payers to claim a tax credit for gifts made to endowed funds held by community foundations in the state.

Written as a program for corporate income, individual income, and trust income tax purposes, the law provides for a tax credit equal to 25 percent of a qualified contribution to a fund at a qualified community foundation, subject to certain requirements.

The Mississippi Alliance of Nonprofits and Philanthropy and its affinity group, The Community Foundation Network, were strong advocates for the legislation, working tirelessly with legislative leaders in both the Mississippi House and Senate to help promote and get the bill passed.

The Mississippi Alliance of Nonprofits and Philanthropy has provided more information about the legislation on its website.

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Phone: (404) 524-0911
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