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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’s Dwayne Marshall Accepts New Position with Community Foundation of Greater Chattanooga

Tags: SECF Staff 
Category: Announcements, 
Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations

Dec13

Dwayne Marshall, SECF's senior director of programs and partnerships, has accepted a new position as vice president of community investment at the Community Foundation of Greater Chattanooga. He is expected to transition to his new role by the end of the year.

Marshall, who for more than six years has successfully led the development, execution and evaluation of SECF's grantmaker education programming while strengthening relationships with other regional and national philanthropy serving organizations and beyond, has made significant contributions to SECF's growth and development during his tenure.

"Today is a bittersweet day for SECF," said President & CEO Janine Lee. "Dwayne has proven himself to be a true leader in our field. His tireless work ethic and deep belief in the power of philanthropy are reflected in the strong slate of programs and opportunities for connection SECF offers its members today. During Dwayne's time at SECF, we have become the first point of contact for many national organizations looking for greater engagement in the Southeast - a development undoubtedly due to Dwayne's work in positioning SECF as a national leader in the philanthropic sector."

Marshall's staff leadership on resource development, in particular, stands out, Lee said.

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Member Highlight: Mark C. Callaway

Category: Member Highlight, 
Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations

Dec13

If you've attended an Annual Meeting session on impact investing in the last few years, you've probably heard from Mark Callaway - there might be no bigger evangelist for the practice in all of SECF's membership.

Mark, who was elected to the SECF Board of Trustees at this year's Annual Meeting, developed an interest in environmental and social issues while living in Northern California in the 1960s and 70s - that led him to later embrace the Socially Responsible Investment (SRI) movement in the early 2000s.

Mark said impact investing will continue to be a focus in his work as a Board member.

"I feel very strongly about the Impact space and wanted to make sure that I could continue to focus in that area," Mark said. "I think the opportunity to showcase Impact Investing at the 50th Annual Meeting will be an ideal opportunity for us to focus on the work that is being done in the Southeast in this space that doesn't usually get the opportunity to be highlighted."

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An Incredible Year Sets Up SECF for An Even Better 2019

Author: Gilbert Miller

Dec12

When my plane took off from Louisville's airport, I could see the Ohio River and the bridges that spanned it, reaching out into Indiana. The cloud cover was low, and the image quickly dissolved into white, leaving me to reflect on the meeting I was leaving behind.

It's hard to sum up an SECF Annual Meeting. It's one part family reunion, one part conference, one part tent revival, one part continuing education, and one part party. In 72 hours, we cover a lot of ground, and I remain amazed each year by all that happens for the betterment of our membership.

This year, however, felt different. From all corners, I heard talk of a "feeling," of a sense of something intangible that wove itself to the entirety of the event. Attendees felt more "together" than they had in the past, and the conversations outside in the halls were of partnerships and collaborations. Embracing the theme, it is hard to not feel like bridges were being built, or at least, that bridges in disuse were being crossed once again.

Looking back on the year, it is hard not to see those same bridges being built across our entire membership. As chair, the view I am afforded is awe-inspiring, giving me great hope for the times ahead.

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2018 Member Survey: Foundations Value SECF Network, Have Strong Interest in Equity

Category: Research & Data, 
Author: David Miller

Dec06

Attendees at this year's Annual Meeting in Louisville received an advance look at the results of SECF's 2018 Member Survey - the Key Findings Report, now available on SECF.org, reveals critical insights into the operations and interest of foundations across the region.

Here are some highlights from this year's findings:

Staff sizes are gradually increasing: In our 2016 survey, 63 percent of respondents reporting having five or fewer full-time staff members - that number went down to 51 percent in this year's survey. Staff sizes vary widely based on the type of foundation. Community foundations averaged 12 full-time employees, while family foundations average four staff members.

Community and networking remain major draws: Nearly half of respondents, 47 percent, said they joined SECF to be part of a philanthropic community. Nearly three-quarters said networking opportunities were a top SECF benefit. Research on philanthropic trends was the second-highest rated benefit, followed closely by leadership development and legislative updates.

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Member Highlight: Michael Tipton

Category: Member Highlight, 
Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations

Nov29

Cross-sector partnership is already integral to Michael Tipton's work - his role as the head of a corporate foundation puts him at the intersection of philanthropy and the private sector.

Now, the Blue Cross Blue Shield Foundation of Louisiana president is looking forward to exploring partnership from a new perspective, as a member of the SECF Board of Trustees.

"I think foundations in our region can be critical partners with government, the nonprofit sector, business and others in addressing some of our most critical issues," Michael said. "Serving on the Board of SECF gives me a window into how other foundations and our region is approaching this opportunity and gives me a chance to support our collective efforts to give back in strategic ways to the communities in which we live and work."

Michael leads the foundation's efforts to improve health outcomes in Louisiana - a state that is far behind the rest of the nation on many health-related metrics. However, Michael sees several bright spots that can serve as inspiration for the rest of the state, and the region.

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Member Highlight: Eric Kelly

Category: Member Highlight, 
Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations

Nov15

When Eric Kelly became president of the Quantum Foundation five years ago, he quickly learned that SECF would be there to support him as he settled into his new role.

"I had been in philanthropy for 15 years and had served in executive-level leadership, but this was a new leadership role for me. One of the very first calls that I received was from Janine Lee," Eric said. "That year I attended the CEO Forum and had a chance to experience SECF at a closer level- It was amazing!"

Those initial experiences set Eric on the path to being engaged with SECF events and programs year after year. Now, he'll get to play an even larger role in the organization as a member of the Board of Trustees. He said he felt "both ecstatic and completely humble" when asked to serve.

"It was such an honor to be asked to join the board," he said. "Every event I attend is so helpful to me and to our team. I would comment to myself, 'it would nice to serve on the board of SECF when I grow up.' I wanted to serve in a capacity that would give me a chance to offer leadership and service to the foundations in our region."

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49th Annual Meeting Spotlights Work to Bridge Divides

Category: Annual Meeting, 
Author: David Miller

Nov14

Last week, more than 600 philanthropic professionals, experts and thought leaders came together in Louisville for three days focused on how foundations can best address divisions within our communities, our region and even our field.

At SECF's 49th Annual Meeting, the theme "Come Together. Bridge the Divide." resonated throughout the conference. A number of sessions looked at the many fault lines that exist in society today, including racial and gender inequity, political polarization, and even divides between philanthropy and the communities and people it seeks to support.

The theme also ran throughout the Annual Meeting's keynote and plenary sessions. Mark Gerzon, author of The Reunited States of America, got the event off to a strong start as he discussed words and methods foundations can use to bring community dialogue away from us vs. them and instead channel civic energy, participation and creative problem-solving to spark collaboration that leads toward innovative solutions.

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Member Highlight: Terri Lee Freeman

Category: Member Highlight, 
Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations

Oct25

This year may mark Terri Lee Freeman's first SECF Annual Meeting, but it's a testament to her experience in the field that she'll mark the occasion as a panelist during this year's Breakfast with Champions plenary.

Terri, a trustee of the Community Foundation of Greater Memphis, has also distinguished herself as president of the National Civil Rights Museum, a role she's held since 2014, and as the former president of the Community Foundation for the National Capital Region in Washington, D.C.

"As a relative new board member of the Community Foundation of Greater Memphis, I was shocked that SECF would think I would add value to the panel," Terri said. "But as I realize my unusual background, I think I can bring an interesting perspective to the panel. Additionally, as issues of diversity, inclusion and equity continue to be top of mind for the funding community, I see my current role as lending some expertise on that issue."

Terri says Annual Meeting attendees will hear a new perspective at this year's Breakfast with Champions. While previous offerings of the session have brought CEOs to the stage, this year will shift the focus to the boardroom.

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Small Foundations Can Have a Big Impact with Effective Communications

Author: Kristen Keely-Dinger and Jennifer Oldham

Oct25

Hiring communications staff is usually not at the top of mind for small foundations. Administrative and grant-focused staff usually take priority, and while those positions are necessary, having a communications-focused staff member can also be beneficial to smaller foundations.

As a small health legacy foundation with five staff, we understand the need for efficient use of resources. We want to remain lean and nimble, but we also want to have a big impact. We have seen how focusing on communications can help a foundation meet our missions and advance our causes.

In 2013, our board adopted a new strategic plan which included "promoting our work" as one of the key objectives of the plan. Prior to this time, we typically used only our website and targeted emails to communicate about the work of the foundation. With this new strategic objective, it became clear that we were going to need to focus more of our resources into communicating not only with our grantees but also within the wider community.

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An Innovative Approach to Launching and Sustaining Student Success

Category: Grantmaking, 
Author: Karen Lambert

Oct24

Navigating college for the first time can be daunting, especially when you’re the first from your family to do so.

This notion of firsts is what caught the Peyton Anderson Foundation’s attention when Middle Georgia State University presented plans for the Center to Launch and Sustain Student Success (CLASS).

The proposed 8,000-square-foot Macon campus center will be a key resource in helping prospective, incoming and current students navigate the process of applying to college, securing financial aid, meeting with academic advisors, registering for classes and transitioning into their professional careers, all within one central space.

Middle Georgia State University is Georgia’s most affordable public university. With diverse degree offerings, central locations (five campuses throughout Middle Georgia) and tuition and fees totaling approximately $4,600 a year, the university takes pride in its accessibility for students seeking postsecondary education, especially when they are the first in the family.

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Mission: The Southeastern Council of Foundations serves, connects, strengthens and champions philanthropy and philanthropic infrastructure in the South.