Engage Blog Tags

Multiplying Our Impact: Why Foundations Should Care about Policy Research

Author: Kristen Keely-Dinger & Jennifer Oldham

Nov02

Creating a public policy research center was not a part of our original plan.

The Healing Trust’s grantmaking initially focused on programs that demonstrated measurable health outcomes for vulnerable Middle Tennesseans. Over time, we realized that public policy affects everything our grantee partners do to improve the health of our community. This realization led us to support health-focused advocacy work alongside direct services. We created an advocacy grant program to provide support for nonprofit partners advocating for policy changes and program improvements that advance health outcomes by either increasing access to health services or preventing childhood trauma.

What Changed?

In 2014, we asked our partners what additional support we could give to organizations engaged in policy and advocacy work. One priority quickly rose to the top: timely, quality, nonpartisan research and analysis on public policy issues critical to our community.

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Helping All Kids Succeed in School and in Life is Possible, and We Have the Tools

Author: Ellen Lehman

Jun28

If we consider the learning process as an assembly line, our first reaction is to say that the assembly line is broken in high school – after all, that’s where dropouts occur.

But although high school is where the dramatic evidence of the failed system is obvious, that’s not where the break occurs, and therefore, that is not the point at which it can be fixed. By then, it’s too late.

If we move toward the beginning of the assembly line, we find that children unprepared for kindergarten often don’t achieve reading comprehension by the third grade and are, therefore, 90 percent likely to become a dropout.

There is nothing more stifling than a compromised beginning; nothing more tragic than a child whose possibilities are unnecessarily diminished.

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Dianne Oliver on the Value of Connection and Supporting Aging Populations

Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations

Jul05

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.

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Improving the Lives of Older Tennesseans Through the Power of Collective Advocacy and Public-Private Partnerships

Author: Scott Perry

Jul17

A unique example of a statewide private-public partnership is part on an ongoing story which should affect Tennessee for years to come.

As a result of two court settlements, $36 million in funding is being granted to six different organizations in Tennessee for the purposes of implementing statewide initiatives designed to make lives better for older residents. Working with the court, five philanthropic organizations – the West End Home Foundation (Nashville), United Way of Greater Knoxville, Memorial Foundation (Hendersonville), HCA Foundation (Nashville), and Assisi Foundation (Memphis) – provided their expertise to develop a process to accept, then carefully vet, statewide proposals in four specific areas:

  • Senior Legal Assistance

  • Senior Affordable Housing

  • Senior Transportation

  • Senior Dental

These areas were selected based on statewide need and a history of limited resources. Proposals were evaluated based on their level of innovation, ability to implement and sustainability. The process took almost two years to complete.

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Small Foundations Can Have a Big Impact with Effective Communications

Author: Kristen Keely-Dinger and Jennifer Oldham

Oct25

Hiring communications staff is usually not at the top of mind for small foundations. Administrative and grant-focused staff usually take priority, and while those positions are necessary, having a communications-focused staff member can also be beneficial to smaller foundations.

As a small health legacy foundation with five staff, we understand the need for efficient use of resources. We want to remain lean and nimble, but we also want to have a big impact. We have seen how focusing on communications can help a foundation meet our missions and advance our causes.

In 2013, our board adopted a new strategic plan which included "promoting our work" as one of the key objectives of the plan. Prior to this time, we typically used only our website and targeted emails to communicate about the work of the foundation. With this new strategic objective, it became clear that we were going to need to focus more of our resources into communicating not only with our grantees but also within the wider community.

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Member Highlight: Terri Lee Freeman

Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations

Oct25

This year may mark Terri Lee Freeman's first SECF Annual Meeting, but it's a testament to her experience in the field that she'll mark the occasion as a panelist during this year's Breakfast with Champions plenary.

Terri, a trustee of the Community Foundation of Greater Memphis, has also distinguished herself as president of the National Civil Rights Museum, a role she's held since 2014, and as the former president of the Community Foundation for the National Capital Region in Washington, D.C.

"As a relative new board member of the Community Foundation of Greater Memphis, I was shocked that SECF would think I would add value to the panel," Terri said. "But as I realize my unusual background, I think I can bring an interesting perspective to the panel. Additionally, as issues of diversity, inclusion and equity continue to be top of mind for the funding community, I see my current role as lending some expertise on that issue."

Terri says Annual Meeting attendees will hear a new perspective at this year's Breakfast with Champions. While previous offerings of the session have brought CEOs to the stage, this year will shift the focus to the boardroom.

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The Community Foundation Case for Attending Foundations on the Hill

Author: Sutton Mora Hayes

Feb05

Hopefully by now you have received an email (or two or three) from SECF encouraging you to attend this year’s Foundations on the Hill (March 11-13). I have a feeling that a lot of you are in the “kind of interested” camp or the “maybe I will go next year” camp. Anyone from any type of foundation would benefit from attending, but I specifically want to encourage my community foundation colleagues to consider joining us in Washington, D.C. this year. Community-driven philanthropy is facing some special challenges, and it is important that we have a strong showing on Capitol Hill.

So, why should you attend? Let me break it down into four points:

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11 States in 11 Months: Southern Philanthropy in... Tennessee

Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations

Oct24


Note: This post is the tenth in a series that will run throughout our 50th Anniversary year. Each month, we'll focus on philanthropy in one of the 11 states in the SECF footprint, using both current and historical data while highlighting a variety of voices. This month's state: Tennessee.


Tennessee Philanthropy Snapshot

First SECF Members: Lyndhurst Foundation, The Benwood Foundation (joined 1972)
Newest SECF Member: Marlene and Spencer Hays Foundation (joined September 2018)
Number of SECF Members: 29

Learn more about Tennessee foundations from SECF’s Southern Trends Report!

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Member Highlight: Nisha Powers

Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations

Jan30

Nisha Powers, a co-chair of the Women's Foundation for a Greater Memphis Board of Directors, brings in a perspective not often seen in the world of foundations: that of a civil engineer.

Nisha, president of Memphis' Powers Hill Design, was recently recognized as a FACE of Memphis by StyleBlueprint, a digital publication connecting women to their community in Memphis and several other Southern cities.

In an interview with StyleBlueprint, Nisha said her experience within a male-dominated field has helped fuel her passion for helping other women through the foundation.

"Someone once told me if you can get your personal life, your professional life and your community life to be congruent, you will be a much happier person," she said. "I think about that in how we invest our philanthropic time and effort at Powers Hill. To me, WFGM is the best investment for us because it aligns our personal and community life with our work."

The alignment between Nisha's professional and philanthropic work runs both ways – the boutique firm she helps lead has taken on projects that were not only excellent examples of engineering but also helped some of Memphis' most vulnerable residents. One example she cited is helping the Memphis Zoo address parking issues.

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Responding to COVID-19, and More, in... Nashville, Tennessee

Author: Amy Fair

May21

This post continues a series highlighting the responses of SECF members to the COVID-19 pandemic in their communities. We will use this series to highlight partnerships, coalitions and innovative examples of giving that help those affected by this crisis. This installment was provided to SECF by Amy Fair, vice president of donor services at The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee.

If your foundation is involved in a program you would like to see highlighted here, contact David Miller, director of marketing and communications, at david@secf.org.


Disaster Dispatch from Nashville: Tornado Recovery in the Midst of COVID-19

With the New Year being 2020 and the 10th anniversary of the historic 1,000-year floods in Tennessee, there were exhibits planned, news stories being prepared all around the city of Nashville, and an opinion piece in The New York Times titled “Nobody Cared When Nashville Drowned” from Nashville-based author and journalist Margaret Renkl.

To commemorate this natural disaster’s impact on our community, we decided that we didn’t want our activities to join the chorus of those looking back, although we knew these reflective activities would be beneficial. Instead, we set in motion a plan to look ahead and plan for the next disaster – we just didn’t know it would arrive so soon.

The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee’s history with supporting and funding disaster recovery in our community and elsewhere is nearly as long as our organizational history, which began in 1991. In partnership with donors, we have provided relief funding through the years for responding to disasters, including floods, hurricanes, mass shootings, tornadoes, typhoons, and wildfires. But our most significant role has been at home as a named partner in Metro Nashville and Davidson County’s Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan (CEMP). In this role, we provided $15 million in funding in Nashville and surrounding Middle Tennessee communities for relief and recovery efforts following the May 2010 Flood over the course of two years.

We also participated as a member of our local VOAD (Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster). VOAD continued to meet for several years after the funding of recovery was complete, but eventually went dormant when the concerns of disaster no longer felt like an immediate threat to our community, and when the members named in the CEMP agreement with the city continued to meet on a quarterly basis with Nashville’s Office of Emergency Management. 

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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.

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


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

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