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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.


April 2020 Public Policy Update

Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations

Apr07

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.


Recent COVID-19 Relief Bill Includes Significant Support for Nonprofits, Philanthropy

Almost as soon as Foundations on the Hill had wrapped up this year, activity in Congress became focused almost exclusively on addressing the COVID-19 pandemic. While the first two bills addressing the effects of the outbreak were largely focused on halting the spread of the disease and expanding family leave protections, the third bill, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, represented the single largest piece of relief legislation ever passed by Congress.

The bill, a $2 trillion package focused on the catastrophic economic effects of the outbreak, includes several provisions aimed at boosting charitable giving and supporting the nonprofit organizations during a time of unprecedented crisis.

The legislation, signed into law on March 27, includes the following provisions:

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Funder-to-Funder COVID-19 Town Hall Highlights Rapid Response Across Region

Category: Programs, Coronavirus, 
Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations

Apr02

On March 31, more than 150 SECF members gathered online for a virtual town hall to learn about the work being done across the region to support communities affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Attendees heard from several foundation leaders across the region and had the opportunity to ask questions, get answers and share details of their own work to address the health, economic and equity impacts of the outbreak.

Robert Dortch, vice president of program and community innovation at the Robins Foundation in Richmond, Virginia, said his foundation’s approach was rooted in a question – “What does this mean?” – applies to children, families, schools, communities and nonprofits. The foundation has partnered with the Family Independence Initiative to provide direct support to families affected by the pandemic.

“What we've learned a lot about is compassion,” Robert said. “You're seeing a lot of compassion and a need to come together.”

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SECF's Lending Library Is Now Online!

Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations

Apr02


Today marks the debut of the SECF Lending Library – a members-only source of books and audiobooks on philanthropy, equity, leadership and more!

Over the past two weeks, we’ve seen that SECF members are eager for resources to inform and inspire their work. The SECF Lending Library makes obtaining these easier than ever – our curated collection is accessible from most of the devices you’re using at home, including laptops, smartphones, tablets and Kindle devices!

You can check out titles from the SECF Lending Library starting now! Our selections include works by national experts and thought leaders, plus recent Annual Meeting speakers like Bryan Stevenson and Isabel Wilkerson!

The Lending Library will also serve as the platform for the upcoming Chair’s Book Club, a key initiative inspired by our Equity Framework. We look forward to revealing the first Chair’s Book Club selection soon!

SECF has partnered with OverDrive to provide this new benefit – OverDrive works with hundreds of public library systems across the country to offer e-books and audiobooks to patrons free of charge. Just like these public libraries, the SECF Lending Library catalog will be accessible from Libby, a user-friendly app for iOS and Android devices that allows for borrowing and reading all in one place as well as Kindle devices. 

You can view our full guide to the SECF Lending Library here. If you’re ready to get started, click here to view all our available titles!

If you have questions or recommendations for future Lending Library titles, contact Stephen Sherman, SECF’s director of research and data, at stephen@secf.org or by calling (404) 524-0911.

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SECF Members Responding to COVID-19 Coronavirus

Category: Coronavirus, 
Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations

Mar19

Dozens of SECF members have taken action in response to the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak. This includes numerous community foundations have have launched rapid relief funds with support from private foundations, as well as other support targeting specific areas, ranging from housing to the arts. Across the region, the outpouring of support has been largely geared toward supporting nonprofits that work with marginalized populations who are most at risk as the result of the outbreak and its increasing economic consequences.

If your foundation has taken action in response to the pandemic and is not shown here, please contact David Miller, director of marketing and communications, at david@secf.org and we will add you to the list below!

For direct donation links to all rapid response funds, visit our COVID-19 Resource Hub!

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COVID-19 Resource Round-Up

Category: Coronavirus, 
Author: Stephen Sherman

Mar19

Your SECF colleagues may have advice to share about steps they are taking in response to the outbreak – our Member Listservs (login required) provide an easy way to reach out and learn from each other.

Our staff is also available to provide support – call the SECF offices at (404) 524-0911 and we can help connect you with other resources and information.


Staying Updated


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COVID-19 Coronavirus: What Foundations Need to Know

Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations

Mar16

UPDATE (March 16, 2020): New guidance from the CDC released March 15 recommends postponing all gatherings of 50 people or more for at least two months.

The SECF staff is working remotely but remains available to support our members. You can reach our team via e-mail or by calling (404) 524-0911. Read more about our response here.


UPDATE (March 12, 2020): We have added new information from the CDC on steps foundations can take to slow the spread of the virus. See the links below in the How Foundations Can Prepare section.


UPDATE (March 8, 2020): New guidance from the CDC recommends that anyone in a higher-risk group for becoming very sick due to COVID-19 should "stay home as much as possible." Those at higher risk include "older adults and people who have severe, chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease."


More than 1,000 cases of COVID-19 coronavirus have been reported in the United States since January 21 – this includes cases reported in 10 of 11 states in the SECF footprint.

The spread of the virus has sparked discussion of not only how philanthropy can best respond, but also of how foundations can best operate in an environment where fears of the disease are running high and where separating fact from rumor and misinformation can be difficult.

SECF has put together a collection of resources to help members deal with the impact of this growing pandemic. In addition, our staff is available to provide further assistance if needed – please contact us at (404) 524-0911 if you need our support.

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SECF's Response to COVID-19 Coronavirus

Author: Janine Lee and Regan Gruber Moffitt

Mar12

Like many of you, SECF has been closely monitoring developments related to the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, which was declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organization on March 11. As a membership association, we want to provide you with information on how you and your organization can best respond to this outbreak. We also want to update you on how SECF is responding, including the impact on our events and programs.

Last week we posted a collection of resources on SECF.org to help foundations take action to protect their employees and visitors – foundations, like any other workplace, should follow these guidelines and make their employees aware of actions they can take to limit the spread of the virus. We will continue to update this post as new information and resources become available. The World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are also continually updating their COVID-19 pages with new information. SECF.org also includes links to resources from the Center for Disaster Philanthropy on how philanthropic organizations can support response and recovery to the outbreak.

Several of our members have contacted us regarding the status of upcoming SECF programs. The health and safety of our members and staff is our highest priority – in order to reduce the need for traveling and maintain social distancing, we have made the following modifications to our program schedule:

  • The Atlanta Foundations Forum event scheduled for April 9 has been postponed. We are working to reschedule this event for a date later in 2020.
  • We will announce by Friday, March 20, whether the CEO Forum, currently scheduled for April 23-24 in Sarasota, Florida, will need to be moved to another date later this year.
  • No other changes to our program lineup have been made at this time; however, we will continually assess whether events need to be rescheduled as the situation develops.

The SECF staff will remain available to support you during this time. However, out of an abundance of caution, our staff will begin working remotely on Friday, March 13 through Friday, April 3, at which point we will evaluate whether to reopen our offices. We believe we have the technology in place to make this an easy transition, though we do ask for your flexibility and patience over the first two days of this process in case technical complications arise.

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Member Highlight: Betsy Covington

Category: The Bridge, 
Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations

Mar12

Earlier this month SECF took the wraps off the first episode of its new podcast, The Bridge, which shares stories of how foundations are using various forms of philanthropic capital to bring people together and spark dialogue that leads the way to solutions.

Sparking dialogue is quite literally the goal of On the Table, the initiative that forms the basis of the first episode of The Bridge, which features SECF President and CEO Janine Lee in conversation with Lisa Adkins of the Blue Grass Community Foundation and Betsey Covington of the Community Foundation of the Chattahoochee Valley.

Covington, president and CEO of the community foundation based in Columbus, Georgia, told Lee that On the Table is not only fun, but that “you really start seeing change across your community” once people come together for small group conversations.

“The amazing thing is when you weave bonds closer in a community, people get to know folks they didn’t know before. They hear stories they’ve never heard before,” she said. “We believe that fosters empathy, shared connection, a sense of community – we’re in this together. It’s ‘u’s rather than ‘us and them.’”

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Member Highlight: Lynette Bell

Category: Member Highlight, 
Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations

Mar05

This week marked not only the launch of the Truist Foundation, affiliated with the bank formed by the merger of SunTrust and BB&T, but also the announcement of the foundation’s first president, Lynette Bell.

Bell says that while the organization will build on the charitable legacies of both companies, including SunTrust’s historical presence in the Southeast, the Truist Foundation will take its own approach to philanthropy.

“The Truist Foundation is a new entity with new strategic giving priorities,” Lynette says. “The Truist Foundation strives to better the quality of life of individuals and communities. We partner with strong, innovative nonprofit organizations to increase their impact and expand their reach.”

At launch, the foundation’s four focus areas are leadership development, economic mobility, thriving communities and educational equity. As it advances these priorities, it will embrace a formal grant application process and, importantly, a new board that includes three independent community members.

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Check Out the First Episode of SECF’s New Podcast, The Bridge!

Category: The Bridge, 
Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations

Mar05

Today SECF launched its first podcast, The Bridge. Hosted by President & CEO Janine Lee, The Bridge shares stories of the ways foundations are bringing together people in their communities to spark dialogue and lasting change. This new offering is one of the first initiatives to come as a result of our Equity Framework.

Each episode of The Bridge will focus on a particular program or initiative SECF members are leading in their communities. Our first installment, "On the Table," explores how two foundations in the region – the Blue Grass Community Foundation in Lexington, Kentucky, and the Community Foundation for the Chattahoochee Valley in Columbus, Georgia – are using their convening power to engage community members in conversations around pressing issues and challenges, find areas of shared interest and agreement and begin working on solutions.

Both foundations are using a platform called On the Table, which aims to bring groups of people together for in-person conversations that take place throughout the community over the course of a single day.

On The Bridge, you’ll hear Betsy Covington, president and CEO of the Community Foundation for the Chattahoochee Valley, and Lisa Adkins, president and CEO of the Blue Grass Community Foundation, share with Janine how they brought On the Table to their communities, the impact it has had, and what advice they’d give to other foundations seeking to spark similar conversations.

The Bridge, which will release two more episodes this year, can be streamed below and is also available on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts and other podcast providers! We hope you enjoy listening!

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