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.


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

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

Nov06


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

Nov04

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

Oct24

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

Oct24

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

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

Oct24


Note: This post is the tenth 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: Tennessee.


Tennessee Philanthropy Snapshot

First SECF Members: Lyndhurst Foundation, The Benwood Foundation (joined 1972)
Newest SECF Member: Marlene and Spencer Hays Foundation (joined September 2018)
Number of SECF Members: 29

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

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Member Listservs Offer a New Way for SECF Members to Connect

Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations

Oct23


Starting today, SECF Members can connect to hundreds of their colleagues simply by sending an email! 

Our new Member Listservs make it easy to ask questions, solicit advice and share insights with foundation staff and trustees from across the Southeast. All SECF members in our database have been automatically subscribed to at least one list and can start discussions immediately! 

At launch, seven listservs are active:

  • Community Foundations & Grantmaking Public Charities
  • Corporate Foundations & Giving Programs
  • Family Foundations & Philanthropic Individuals
  • Health Legacy Foundations
  • Independent & Operating Foundations
  • CEOs, Presidents & Executive Directors
  • Hull Fellows Alumni

In order to provide them access to as large a community as possible, Supporting Organizations within SECF were each given the choice of which constituency-based list they’d like to be part of. Lists will be refreshed monthly, though new staff members and trustees can be added earlier on request.

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50th Annual Meeting Speaker Highlight: Shan Arora

Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations

Oct17

The 50th Annual Meeting includes some new items on the agenda, including a series of intimate Salon Dinners on Thursday night that will allow small groups of attendees to explore key issues and converse with thought leaders at unique locations throughout Atlanta.

One of those venues, the Kendeda Building for Innovative Sustainable Design, is meant to inspire change across the entire Southeast. Built to the world’s most rigorous sustainable design and performance standard for buildings, it will harvest more energy than it uses on site through renewable sources and collect, treat and reuse more water than it needs on an annual basis.

The building, located on the Georgia Tech campus, opened in September, marking a significant achievement for Shan Arora, the building’s inaugural director. In a recent article reflecting on the building’s opening, Arora focused on how it can promote health and happiness.

“The first thing visitors typically notice is the amount of wood -- a natural material known to have a calming effect on humans. Or else it’s the daylight and the view of trees through the very windows that are letting the light in,” he wrote. “For most people, it’s only a matter of time before a relaxed smile spreads across their face.”

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SECF Staff Highlight: Marianne Gordon

Tags: SECF Staff 
Category: Member Highlight, 
Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations

Oct10

Note: This week’s Member Highlight uses excerpts from a profile of Marianne that will run in the next issue of Inspiration, SECF’s quarterly magazine, coming out later this month!

While SECF’s 50th Annual Meeting will mark the beginning of a new chapter, it’s also the end of an era: It will be the final Annual Meeting for SECF’s Marianne Gordon, who has overseen planning of the South’s premier philanthropic event for 21 years.

Marianne first brought her talents to the Annual Meeting in 1998 as an outside contractor. Within a few years, it was clear that she was the perfect match for planning the annual event. In 2002, she became SECF’s full-time director of meeting planning, a role she has held ever since.

With 21 Annual Meetings under her belt – and one more on the way – Marianne has seen the event grow and evolve in a number of ways. 

“I would say that the biggest change is the number of sessions and level of speakers we have to offer our members during the Annual Meeting,” Marianne says. “The second biggest would change would be in the diversity of the attendees we now have at the Annual Meeting.”

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October 2019 Public Policy Update

Category: Public Policy, 
Author: Matthew L. Evans

Oct01

Beginning this month, SECF will provide 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.


From Recess to Recess

After a few weeks in Washington following the end of the August recess, members of Congress are once again in their districts for a two-week recess covering the Jewish high holidays as well as Columbus Day. The House and Senate will return to work October 15 with several items relating to philanthropy vying for space on the agenda. Here's a look at what SECF members may see during the remainder of the session.

Must-pass legislation

Congress averted a government shutdown last week when the Senate passed a temporary spending bill that was later signed by President Trump. However, that bill's funding expires November 21. This legislation will allow lawmakers more time to finish the annual appropriations process. If regular appropriations legislation is not passed by then, lawmakers may pass a short-term continuing resolution, or CR, to keep the government operating at current funding levels.

Beyond these spending bills, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) must be passed by January 1, 2020. This legislation has successfully made it through Congress for 60 years. The House and Senate have passed separate versions of the legislation, but significant policy differences have not yet been resolved. 

Congress will be busy working on several other must-pass items, as well. Those include reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank, the National Flood Insurance Program, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, and the extension of some health policy provisions set to expire this year.

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The Rise of Impact Investing in the Southeast: Are we really scaling philanthropy?

Category: Investing, 
Author: Mark Crosswell

Sep25

In contemplating the degree to which impact investing influences philanthropy in our region, the blog last fall suggested that innovative forms of capital are slowly creeping into the thought of foundation leaders and organizations. Impact investing trends are continuing to show a hockey-stick swing upward – yet, we have to ask, is it really scaling social good? 

Reviewing the market overall, global impact investments of all types - including Environmental, Social & Governance (ESG) and Socially Responsible Investing (SRI) - has tripled to nearly $12 trillion since 2015. This incredible growth is fueled by institutional and individual investors interested in aligning mission with money by investing in over 600 socially-minded funds and other private investments. 

In the U.S., community-based impact investments, which is capital invested by community development lenders, credit unions and others investors in low-income communities, now exceeds $180 billion, a three-times increase since 2014. These are primarily driven by place-based investors seeking greater impact and scale in areas such as affordable housing, charter schools, healthcare clinics and job creation among small businesses in economically-deprived areas, often at below-market rates of return. 

As important, there is a form of wholesale capital that supports the institutions making community investments, which comes from foundations, commercial banks, impact funds and public sector partners who share an interest in creating social change along with a financial return. The trends are showing no signs of slowing (see US SIF reports) and new entrants continue to join the market from all corners of the investment world, including university endowments, religious organizations, development authorities and many others. 

So what’s happening in the Southeast? We have a number of exciting, ecosystem-level initiatives underway in the region:  

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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.