New Resources from SECF and Candid Examine Southern Philanthropy's Past, Present and Future

Two new resources, released at SECF's 50th Annual Meeting, highlight the evolution of Southern philanthropy from its origins to today. 

The first, Southern Trends: 50 Years of Philanthropy in the Southeast Region, is a fact sheet published by SECF and Candid that looks at the growth of Southeast foundations from 1969-2019. At the time of SECF's founding in 1969, the Southeast was home to 532 foundations with $1.6 billion in assets and $61 million in giving. Fifty years later, the number of foundations has ballooned to more than 18,426 with $122 billion in assets and $8 billion in giving. Adjusted for inflation, this represents a tenfold increase in total assets since 1969.

The fact sheet also explores more recent trends in foundation growth over the past 15-20 years. While family foundations continue to make up the largest share of foundation giving, community foundations have experienced the largest growth in the share of grant dollars awarded. The distribution of foundation giving by subject has remained largely unchanged since 2003, with slight increases in giving to the arts and for environmental causes. The full fact sheet is available to view or download under the Key Findings section of the Southern Trends Report. 

SECF also partnered with Candid to produce an interactive timeline highlighting key events in the history of Southern philanthropy. The timeline is organized into five time periods from the pre-colonial era to present. Events are intended to highlight both key developments in philanthropy itself as well as broader developments that shaped the region's societal and political evolution over the more than 500-year period. More recent eras include a special focus on the growth and development of SECF as an institution and its efforts to promote philanthropy in the region. 

The timeline is accessible online from the Southern Trends Report and can even be downloaded in PDF format for offline sharing. This resource is designed to be revised and updated as time progresses, so look for the timeline to grow and evolve over time. If you have suggestions of events to add, let us know by emailing

Stephen Sherman is SECF's Director of Research & Data.


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