Fall 2020 Research Update: Highlights from Recent Reports from the Field

SECF’s online Research Library is regularly updated with the latest reports relevant to Southern philanthropy. SECF members can browse over 300 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 stephen@secf.org or (404) 524-0911.


Healing Work: An Action Guide to Equitable Grantmaking Supporting Youth of Color
Forward Promise (2020)

Research shows that young people of color exposed to discrimination have poorer sleep habits, higher levels of stress hormones, and higher levels of obesity. The effects of racism follow them throughout their lives and may lead to chronic illnesses such as heart disease and hypertension in adulthood. Despite this evident need, there exists a significant disparity in the proportion of funding awarded to organizations led by and serving people of color. To rectify systemic inequities and disparities in funding, philanthropy must be intentional about implementing an effective set of equitable practices which allows them to hold space for, learn from, and better support the communities they wish to serve. 

This report from Forward Promise identifies opportunities for more equitable practice in six stages of the grantmaking process: the call for proposals, communicating funding opportunities, the reviewer pool, review process, data analysis, and site visits. The report includes worksheets to help funders assess and redesign their own grantmaking procedures.


An Event or an Era? Resources for Social Sector Decision-Making in the Context of COVID-19
Monitor Institute (2020)

The COVID-19 crisis has created a moment of hyper-uncertainty for social sector organizations. To help social sector leaders in the United States confront these challenges, the Monitor Institute by Deloitte launched an initiative to apply the tools of scenario planning to help funders and nonprofits prepare for the post-pandemic landscape. 

Informed by the Monitor Institute’s dialogue with experts and leaders from across the country, this publication aims to help nonprofits begin to think and talk about the future in a productive way that embraces the many possible scenarios that may unfold over the ensuing 12-18 months. The report identifies key assumptions about the current state of the sector as well as critical uncertainties that will ultimately determine the impact of the pandemic on philanthropy. Based on these knowns and unknowns, the authors outline four potential scenarios for the social sector with predicted outcomes varying according to the severity of the pandemic and the level of social cooperation. The authors then define action steps that organizations can take to build resilience for the near future and provide key takeaways for social sector leaders.


Lost Art: Measuring COVID-19's Devastating Impact on America's Creative Economy
The Brookings Institution (2020)

This study examines the effects of the COVID-19 crisis on the creative economy, specifically losses in earned income due to the temporary closure of many arts agencies, arts-related businesses and performance venues. The authors define the creative economy as including such industries as film, advertising, and fashion as well as creative occupations like musicians, artists, performers, and designers. The report estimates total revenue lost at more than $150 billion over the period of April 1 through July 31, 2020. Of that figure, performing arts organizations are estimated to account for the largest proportion ($42.5 billion). Job losses are estimated at 2.7 million for the creative industries and 2.3 million for individuals in the creative occupations. 

The South is estimated to suffer more losses in employment than any other region. While New York and Los Angeles are among the cities expected to be hard hit, losses are also estimated to have a large impact in Southern cities such as Nashville, New Orleans, Orlando, Memphis, and Jacksonville.


An Introduction to the Future of Work in the Black Rural South
Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies (2020)

This report provides an introduction to the Black Rural South – 156 rural counties with populations that are 35 percent Black or higher in the Southern United States – and examines the economic past, present, and future for workers in the region. Historical analysis shows that the Black Rural South was the engine of economic growth for much of the country's existence. However, racial inequities have resulted in higher rates of unemployment and poverty in the Black Rural South than in other areas. 

More recently, automation and outsourcing have threatened continued growth and pose a higher risk to jobs for Black workers in the region. An analysis of private sector data shows that half of workers in the Black Rural South are employed in industries with a high potential for automation and a quarter of jobs in those industries could be displaced by 2030. Future reports will explore the opportunities for policymakers and the private sector to develop solutions for the region, such as targeted investments in broadband, HBCUs, education, skills, remote learning and remote work, and entrepreneurship in the Black Rural South.


Roadmap for Funders: Investing in Digital Infrastructure
NTEN, NetHope, TechSoup, Technology Association of Grantmakers (2020)

This brief guide for funders is based on the assumption that social change in the digital era requires an investment in technology and digital infrastructure. This includes a commitment not just to providing more tools for grantees, but building digital skills, capacity, and new platforms for the sector. Authored by the Technology Association of Grantmakers, NetHope, NTEN, and TechSoup, the guide is designed to provide concrete ways that foundations can invest in three core elements of digital infrastructure: digital transformation within the foundation itself; skills, tools, and capacity with grantees and nonprofit partners; and sector-wide services, platforms, and data-sharing. Each section includes actionable steps for grantmakers, examples of funders that have adopted specific strategies or practices, and links to suggested resources. Among the foundations mentioned, the authors highlight initiatives by the Foundations for the Carolinas and the Truist Foundation. 


Stephen Sherman is SECF's director of research and data.


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