CEO Forum Provides Chance to Discuss Challenges of Leadership – and Solutions
The benefits of association are – according to much of the literature on foundation philanthropy – among the most powerful tools for learning and professional development in the field. Interaction with colleagues offers valuable opportunities for building networks that are useful over the long term. SECF’s recent CEO Forum, held last week in Charleston, South Carolina, was no exception.
More than 40 foundation chief executives gathered over two days to study, reflect and share their experiences and thoughts on the future of philanthropy in the United States. Phil Buchanan, president of the Center for Effective Philanthropy, discussed the findings of one of the Center’s recent research projects, The Future of Foundation Philanthropy: The CEO Perspective. The survey data, collected from foundation leaders across the country, provided the perfect backdrop for helping us think about our own effectiveness.
Celebrating 70 Years of Fostering Change
This month, the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust celebrates 70 years of investing in community well-being and improving North Carolinians’ health and quality of life. At the same time, I celebrate my one-year anniversary at the Trust.
During this past year, I have learned so much about the people and organizations the Trust has helped since it began in 1947 – from its first grant to a Forsyth County home visiting program for new moms to our recent investment ensuring every baby born in Forsyth County receives a home visit from a nurse.
The Trust truly has come full circle.
Yet these two home visiting programs – separated by 70 years – are not the same; because the world is different, and it’s our job to deliver on Mrs. Reynolds’ vision in today’s context. As I have traveled around the state, I have observed enormous strength and entrepreneurship locally and in our rural communities – as well as systems and policies that hold once-thriving communities back and increase the chances of poor health, poverty, and job loss. I have seen places where the social determinants of health – the conditions where people live, work and play – have a greater impact on health outcomes than the quality or proximity of a local hospital.
Foundation Leaders Offer Ideas for Charitable Expansion – and Washington is Listening
Last week, several foundation leaders were not dissuaded by nearly 100 degree temperatures and high humidity as they set out to meet with key legislators and tax staffers to make the case for expanding the charitable deduction for all Americans.
Reps. Tom Reed (R-NY), Cathy McMorris Rogers (R-WA), House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX), and tax staff from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) office listened intently, encouraged open discussion and welcomed our input and advice.
In fact, we were so buoyed by the reception to our ideas and their willingness to engage that we were perfectly primed for a highly-anticipated session with Vice President Pence, the final meeting of the day. Even if we had scripted it ourselves, it wouldn’t have been as significant or momentous as it was.
A very gracious Vice President Pence expressed his gratitude for our efforts to come to Washington to meet with him, for our commitment to our communities and for supporting the broader charitable sector. He was engaged and attentive and he asked relevant questions that proved a knowledge and appreciation of the value of the independent sector to civil society.
Dianne Oliver on the Value of Connection and Supporting Aging Populations
Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations
Editor’s Note: This year, Grantmakers in Aging’s annual conference will come to the Southeast, taking place at Memphis’ legendary Peabody hotel October 17-19. Ahead of this event, we asked Dianne Oliver, executive director of the West End Home Foundation, based in Nashville, for some thoughts on the value of membership associations like SECF and GIA, as well as the importance of supporting aging populations.
What do you find valuable about being a member of SECF? GIA?
The benefits of being a member of SECF and GIA can be captured in three words: relationships, information and community.
Membership in these associations has provided me the opportunity to develop relationships with other grantmaking professionals that I can call on for advice and counsel on issues related to management and governance or issues related to best practices in the field. SECF gives me strong regional connections where I can access incredible information about grantmaking best practices, policy issues and legal issues impacting our industry. GIA has connected me with grantmakers across the country who focus on my specific content area – aging and older adults. Through both organizations I feel part of a philanthropic community that supports and nurtures its members so that we can all achieve greater impact.
An Innovative Approach to Launching and Sustaining Student Success
Author: Karen Lambert
Navigating college for the first time can be daunting, especially when you’re the first from your family to do so.
This notion of firsts is what caught the Peyton Anderson Foundation’s attention when Middle Georgia State University presented plans for the Center to Launch and Sustain Student Success (CLASS).
The proposed 8,000-square-foot Macon campus center will be a key resource in helping prospective, incoming and current students navigate the process of applying to college, securing financial aid, meeting with academic advisors, registering for classes and transitioning into their professional careers, all within one central space.
Middle Georgia State University is Georgia’s most affordable public university. With diverse degree offerings, central locations (five campuses throughout Middle Georgia) and tuition and fees totaling approximately $4,600 a year, the university takes pride in its accessibility for students seeking postsecondary education, especially when they are the first in the family.
Five Reasons My Foundation Will Be On the Hill
Author: Russell Carey
It was a moment from an Aaron Sorkin script. “Walk with me,” Rep. French Hill said as we entered the Members Only elevator. Hill, a Republican who represents central Arkansas, including Little Rock, had been buzzed for a floor vote but wanted to learn more about Expect More, our foundation’s new economic equity initiative. As we speedwalked the halls of Congress, I talked about our vision for Arkansas. Through echoing tunnels we discussed how it connected with his workforce agenda. As we arrived at security, I offered some ways we could be a resource in the future. Cue the music.
Moments like this are more common than not at Foundations on the Hill (FOTH). FOTH is a two-day event that brings foundation leaders to Washington, D.C., for meetings with Congress about key issues for foundations and philanthropy. The time my organization, the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation, spends at FOTH each year is intense, exciting, and incredibly valuable. There’s a multitude of reasons you should be there. I’ve tried to narrow it down to my top five:
50th Annual Meeting Speaker Highlight: Alberto Ibargüen
Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations
Earlier this week the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation announced a major investment in research that will help us better understand how technology is transforming American democracy and the way we receive and engage with information.
The $50 million initiative will support cross-disciplinary research at 11 universities and research institutions. This will include $5 million for the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Institute for Data, Democracy, and Politics to help the public, journalists, and policymakers understand digital media’s influence on national dialogue and opinion, and to develop sound solutions to disinformation.
Spearheading this work is the Knight Foundation’s president, Alberto Ibargüen, who will also kick off a plenary discussion at the 50th Annual Meeting that asks a crucial question: Can Philanthropy Preserve the Pillars of Democracy?
For Ibargüen, the answer to that question is an emphatic “yes.”
“We’re living the most profound change in how we communicate with each other since Gutenberg invented the printing press,” Ibargüen said in announcing Knight’s latest initiative. “The internet has changed our lives and is changing our democracy. We have to take a step back and a step forward. To understand what is actually happening, we need independent research and insights based on data, not emotion and invective. To go forward, citizens must be engaged, and including university communities in the debate is a step in that direction.”
Member Highlight: Rhett Mabry
Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations
More than four years ago, The Duke Endowment was among a small group of foundations that came together to form Blue Meridian Partners, described at the time as "a new funders collaborative that aims to invest $1 billion in high-performance nonprofits poised to have national impact for economically disadvantaged children and youth."
Since then, Blue Meridian has evolved from a collaborative to an independent nonprofit organization making both national and regional investments -- the latter category includes the Get Ready Guilford Initiative, spearheaded by The Duke Endowment, which seeks to support the physical, social-emotional and cognitive well-being of children from birth to age eight in Guilford County, North Carolina.
The Duke Endowment's strategy for Get Ready Guilford aims to accelerate existing local efforts to improve early childhood outcomes—including healthy births, infant/toddler development, school readiness, and success by third grade—by bringing evidence-based programs to greater scale in these areas, improving the quality of local programs and catalyzing collective impact efforts.
In a recent interview posted at the Blue Meridian Partners website, Duke Endowment President Rhett Mabry said Get Ready Guilford and other programs like it are a direct result of working with other foundations through Blue Meridian -- The Duke Endowment is now one of the organization's Regional Partners.
SECF's Philanthropy Essentials Guides Theory Through Conversation
Author: Kelsie Smithson
Last year, fresh off my third board meeting as a program officer for the James Graham Brown Foundation, I jumped on a plane to Durham, North Carolina, for what I hoped would be a comprehensive orientation to the philanthropic sector at SECF's revamped Philanthropy Essentials training. I had already heard great things about the program's predecessor, Essential Skills & Strategies, and was thrilled to mute my email and be immersed in an experience the SECF team built from the ground up.
Upon arriving at the Durham Arts Center, it was clear I was in a for a transformative two days. Along with a beautiful backdrop, I met my Philanthropy Essentials cohort, which included both staff and trustees of foundations from across the region, from Little Rock to Richmond. One of my peers had been on the job for seven weeks -- another had worked in the sector for 13 years.
Together, we ventured into the many complex aspects of philanthropy. Along the way, we collected a wealth of resources, held space for uncomfortable, but necessary, conversations, and set intentions for how we aimed to influence and grow through the work that we are so privileged to do.
Member Highlight: Hannah Saeger Karnei
Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations
Since last June, Hannah Saeger Karnei has played a unique role at The Patterson Foundation – she’s the inaugural fellow of a program launched by the foundation in partnership with the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.
The Patterson Foundation Fellows Program, the foundation announced on its website, is “a year-long career-building opportunity to learn innovative philanthropic principles.” The foundation’s goal in launching the program is to “create a network of future leaders aligned in their innovative approach to philanthropy.”
“To me, this year-long fellows program represents an invaluable opportunity to work with and learn from a team of meticulously innovative philanthropists,” Hannah wrote on the foundation’s website when her fellowship began. “The Patterson Foundation strives to engage individuals, business, nonprofits, government, and media in every initiative. By including young philanthropic leaders such as myself as they work to build these networked initiatives, TPF is providing a unique learning opportunity in the art and science of relationship building, community engagement, strategic philanthropy, and achieving shared aspirations.”
Since her fellowship began, Hannah has regularly shared what she’s learned and experienced on the foundation’s blog. Not surprisingly, one benefit of her experience has been a rapid expansion of her professional network – though it hasn’t always come easily, she writes.