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 or at (404) 524-0911 to discuss your idea.

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Submit Your Topic Ideas for the 2022 Annual Meeting

Category: Annual Meeting, 
Author: Philanthropy Southeast


The 2021 Annual Meeting is less than a week old, but we’re already turning our focus to next year – planning is now underway for Philanthropy Southeast’s 2022 Annual Meeting, and we’d like your ideas to be a part of it!

What topics should we explore in 2022? You can tell us your thoughts by answering our Call for Topics today – your submissions will be used by our Leadership and Session Design teams to build out the next Annual Meeting agenda.

Click the button below to get started – and mark your calendars for November 9-11, 2022, when the Philanthropy Southeast Annual Meeting comes to The Ritz-Carlton in Amelia Island, Florida.


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All About Our New Name - And Why It's Happening

Author: Janine Lee


Last week’s Annual Meeting was incredible for many reasons, but near the top of the list was our announcement of a new name for our organization: Philanthropy Southeast!

Since many people were not able to join us in Asheville this year, I wanted to take some time here to talk about our new name, the process that led up to it and what it means for our members going forward.

Philanthropy Southeast represents what we are today: an inclusive and courageous community of leaders working together for change, committed to a vision of a just and equitable South. We embrace philanthropy in all its forms – a “big tent” that welcomes many types of organizations and many forms of philanthropic capital. We focus not only on how philanthropy is done, but also the issues it addresses and the communities it serves.

Our new name was approved by an overwhelming majority in a vote of our members conducted ahead of this year’s Annual Meeting. I believe that margin was a result of the deliberate and thoughtful approach we took to this process, which began when we were planning our 50th Anniversary in 2019.

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2021 Annual Meeting Recap: Answering the Call in Asheville and Beyond

Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations


Last week, more than 500 leaders came together in Asheville, North Carolina, and online to not only attend the 2021 Annual Meeting, but also commit themselves to a new day and a new way defined by courageous leadership.

One big news item coming out of this year’s meeting: Our members overwhelmingly approved a new name, Philanthropy Southeast, that represents the organization we are today – an inclusive and courageous community of leaders working together for change. Stay tuned for more details about this exciting change!

This year’s Annual Meeting was the first hybrid event in our history and our first in-person event since March 2020. With strong health and safety protocols in place, as well as a virtual conference that allowed people to view sessions from their home or office, attendees were able to focus on the things that have made the Annual Meeting the region’s top philanthropic event: insightful sessions, powerful speakers and an unparalleled opportunity to connect with colleagues and experts from the Southeast and beyond.

Our opening keynote speaker, Wes Moore, got the event off to an inspiring start with remarks focused on what philanthropy – and those who lead it – need to emphasize in their work. “Our job in philanthropy is not to make ourselves bigger, it is to make the problems we are trying to solve smaller,” he told attendees. “If our revenue increased and we doubled the amount we granted but poverty increased, we failed.”

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Research Update: Highlights from Recent Reports in the Field

Category: Research & Data, 
Author: Stephen Sherman


SECF’s online Research Library is regularly updated with the latest reports relevant to Southern philanthropy. SECF members can browse over 400 research reports, websites, case studies, and other resources that we’ve cultivated to help funders stay abreast of trends in the field and learn about emerging best practices in philanthropy. 

Below are some of the key findings and highlights of the newest additions to the Research Library. If you would like to suggest a resource or have other feedback, contact Stephen Sherman, SECF’s Director of Research and Data, at or (404) 524-0911.


Moving from Intention to Impact: Funding Racial Equity to Win
PolicyLink, The Bridgespan Group (2021)

In the wake of unprecedented philanthropic commitments in 2020, PolicyLink partnered with the Bridgespan Group to analyze the state of funding for racial equity with a focus on high-level donors  – both institutional funders and individual donors. The report was informed by interviews with more than 34 racial equity movement leaders, funders, and others across the equity ecosystem; analyses of Candid data to identify funding trends; and a review of literature to understand what is needed to achieve equitable structural change. The authors discuss what was learned about funders’ intention to contribute toward racial equity, explore what it will take to achieve enduring impact, and offer specific ways that funders can work to close the gap between intention and impact. Recommendations for foundations include increased funding for racial equity, greater support for capacity building and relationship building in the field, and re-evaluating internal practices and investments. 


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Now Available: 2021 Salary Data for Southeast Grantmakers

Author: Stephen Sherman


One of our most popular member benefits – regional salary data for foundation staff and CEOs – has just been updated on!

Each year, SECF partners with the Council on Foundations (COF) to produce salary benchmarking reports for foundation staff and CEOs in the Southeast. These reports include the average, median, minimum and maximum salaries for a range of 36 staff positions at all levels in foundations based in the 11 Southeast states. Salary tables are organized by both grantmaker type and asset size to provide quick access to comparable data for foundations of all shapes and sizes.

You can view this data now under the For Members section of our website – or access the information directly here ( login required).

Salary information for 2021 is drawn from data on nearly 10,000 full-time paid staff at over 900 organizations across the United States. The South region accounted for 27 percent of all respondents.

Thank you to all SECF member organizations that responded to the 2021 Grantmaker Salary and Benefits Survey earlier this year, providing the valuable benchmarking data that informs these reports.

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Public Policy Update - October 2021

Tags: Kentucky 
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 Jaci Bertrand, SECF's vice president of member engagement, at


Wrangling Continues Over Reconciliation, Infrastructure Bills

Democrats in the House and Senate are continuing to negotiate a path forward on two bills that form the bulk of President Biden’s domestic agenda: a $1 billion bill to invest in roads, bridges and other infrastructure, as well as a larger package addressing a range of issues including education, health care and climate change.

The exact size and scope of the second bill remains the key sticking point. The White House and Democratic leaders in Congress had proposed a $3.5 trillion package, but key moderates in both chambers have called for that number to come down. While negotiations are fluid, the latest reporting indicates a $2 trillion measure is more likely at this point. The bill is being considered through the reconciliation process, which prevents Senate Republicans from filibustering the legislation but also requires almost total unity from Democrats, who have slim majorities in both chambers – including no votes to spare in the Senate.

Progressives in Congress have balked at holding a vote on the infrastructure bill until they have assurances the larger bill will pass. Meanwhile, moderates have insisted the infrastructure bill, which already passed the Senate with bipartisan support, should get a vote without preconditions.


Kentucky Rep. Yarmuth Announces Retirement

Rep. John Yarmuth (D-KY), who represents the Louisville area in the House, announced today he would not seek re-election. The decision will deprive the region of an influential voice in Congress – Yarmuth currently serves as chairman of the powerful House Budget Committee.

Yarmuth is the fifth House Democrat to announce his retirement, along with five others who have announced runs for another office.

While Yarmuth’s own district has a strong Democratic lean, his retirement while holding such a powerful post may indicate pessimism about his party’s chances of holding control of the House following the 2022 elections.

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Submit Your Nominee for the 2021 Truist Promise Award

Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations


This year’s Annual Meeting will include the second presentation of the Truist Promise Award recognizing innovative philanthropy in the Southeast! Last year, this prestigious honor honored work done by two SECF members: the Charlottesville Area Community Foundation and the Coastal Community Foundation of South Carolina.

Nominations for this year’s Truist Promise Award are now open. The award recognizes a particular initiative and/or innovative grantmaking strategy or approach, done by an individual organization or through a collective partnership – as such, it may be presented to more than one foundation if the initiative is a product of partnership and collaboration.

The Truist Promise Award recognizes work that focuses on significant and systemic issues facing the region and the country today. In addition, nominees must meet the following criteria:

  • Work focused on issues of racial equity, racial justice or anti-racism.
  • The innovative use of multiple forms of philanthropic capital, particularly beyond financial capital.
  • Use of data and research in determining strategies and tactics.
  • Cooperation with community partners, particularly in other sectors, or direct engagement with community members.
  • Impact/outcomes that are evidence-based.

You may nominate any SECF member organization, including your own, for the Promise Award. The recipient will be selected by a group of SECF staff and Board members and recognized at the 2021 Annual Meeting.

Nominations are due Friday, October 15. Click here to submit your nominee!

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Announcing the 2021-22 Class of Hull Fellows!

Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations



SECF is excited to announce the 22 members of the 2021-22 class of Hull Fellows, the region’s premier philanthropic leadership development program. The new class joins a community that includes more than 300 Hull graduates, many of whom now serve as CEOs and senior executives at their foundations.

This year’s class will begin their Hull Fellows experience with a kickoff at this year’s Annual Meeting in Asheville, followed by webinars and a spring retreat. This will culminate with the presentation of capstone projects at the 2022 Annual Meeting.

In the months ahead, we will profile each member of this year's class on our blog and in our weekly Connect newsletter so you can get to know them better.

If you know any members of this year’s class, reach out to them and congratulate them!


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Annual Meeting Speaker Highlight: Chandra Taylor

Category: Annual Meeting, 
Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations


The intersection between racial equity and climate change has become increasingly clear as marginalized populations, particularly people of color, disproportionately suffer the effects of extreme weather – these groups are also underrepresented among leading environmental groups, depriving them of a seat at the table and input on possible solutions.

There are leaders within the region seeking to change this dynamic, however. One of them is Chandra Taylor, senior attorney and leader of the Southern Environmental Law Center’s Environmental Justice Initiative. She will be one of several speakers at “Invisible Fences: Racial Equity and the Environment,” a breakout session taking place at this year’s Annual Meeting.

Taylor’s leadership was recently recognized by the North Carolina Wildlife Federation, which named her its Water Conservationist of the Year.

“Working at the intersection of civil rights and environmental protection, Taylor forced cleanups at contaminated industrial sites at Yadkin River and Badin Lake, stopped water pollution threatening North Carolina communities, and helped shape transit and landfill policies,” the federation said in announcing the award.

Taylor, who grew up in Kinston, North Carolina – one of many in the region devastated by the decline of the textile industry – says her personal experience has had a direct impact on her professional life.

“I was very specific about wanting to do work representing communities of color and low-wealth communities and I’m going to do it in the State of North Carolina because this is the place that I love,” she says. “Social justice is important to me because I saw people who worked really hard but still did not always make ends meet.”

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Annual Meeting Speaker Highlight: Takema Robinson

Tags: Louisiana 
Category: Annual Meeting, 
Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations


The expression “the more things change, the more they stay the same” could easily be applied to New Orleans, where despite the wake-up call and crisis sparked by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the city still suffers from troubling inequities the storm highlighted.

That pattern isn’t unique to New Orleans – across the region and the country, responses to crises often result in a return to the status quo without addressing whether that status quo was desirable in the first place.

Takema Robinson, executive director of the Greater New Orleans Funders Network (GNOFN) and CEO of her own consulting firm, knows this reality well.

“Following Hurricane Katrina, we witnessed $1 billion pour into our city during the recovery, and while much good work took place, we missed the opportunity to create long-term structural change,” she wrote recently on GNOFN’s website.

A similar situation is now unfolding with the COVID-19 pandemic, Robinson says, joining others who have rejected calls to “return to normal” and instead use crisis as a chance to invoke overdue change. She believes that philanthropy, specifically, must not let this opportunity pass it by.

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Southeastern Council of Foundations
100 Peachtree Street NW, Suite 2080
Atlanta, GA 30303

Visiting SECF:
All staff are working remotely at this time but can still be reached via email and by calling (404) 524-0911.

Monday-Thursday from 9:00am–6:00pm (ET)
Friday from 9:00am–12:00pm (ET)

Phone: (404) 524-0911
Fax: (404) 523-5116

Mission: SECF strengthens Southern philanthropy, welcoming our members to listen, learn and collaborate on ideas and actions to help build an equitable, prosperous South.