BLOG


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 david@secf.org or at (404) 524-0911 to discuss your idea.


What's New at the SECF Lending Library

Author: Stephen Sherman

Jul07

By Stephen Sherman

We’ve recently expanded our Lending Library to include the titles below and much more. SECF members have exclusive access to our virtual collection offering e-books and audiobooks on best practices in philanthropy, advancing equity, and social sector leadership. Visit our website to get started today! 

 

Read Up On Our Annual Meeting Speakers

Get ready for the SECF 52nd Annual Meeting with these titles by our opening and closing keynote speakers, Wes Moore and Heather McGhee. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore

In December 2000, the Baltimore Sun ran a small piece about Wes Moore, a local student who had just received a Rhodes Scholarship. The same paper also ran a series of articles about four young men who had allegedly killed a police officer in a spectacularly botched armed robbery. The police were still hunting for two of the suspects who had gone on the lam, a pair of brothers. One was named Wes Moore. Wes just couldn’t shake off the unsettling coincidence, or the inkling that the two shared much more than space in the same newspaper. After following the story of the robbery, the manhunt, and the trial to its conclusion, he wrote a letter to the other Wes, now a convicted murderer serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole. His letter tentatively asked the questions that had been haunting him: Who are you? How did this happen?

 

The Work: Searching for a Life that Matters by Wes Moore

The Work is the story of how one young man traced a path through the world to find his life’s purpose. Wes Moore graduated from a difficult childhood in the Bronx and Baltimore to an adult life that would find him at some of the most critical moments in our recent history: as a combat officer in Afghanistan; a White House fellow in a time of wars abroad and disasters at home; and a Wall Street banker during the financial crisis. In this insightful book, Moore shares the lessons he learned from people he met along the way – from the brave Afghan translator who taught him to find his fight, to the resilient young students in Katrina-ravaged Mississippi who showed him the true meaning of grit, to his late grandfather, who taught him to find grace in service.

 

The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together by Heather McGhee

Heather McGhee’s specialty is the American economy – and the mystery of why it so often fails the American public. From the financial crisis to rising student debt to collapsing public infrastructure, she found a common root problem: racism. But not just in the most obvious indignities for people of color. Racism has costs for white people, too. It is the common denominator of our most vexing public problems, the core dysfunction of our democracy and constitutive of the spiritual and moral crises that grip us all. But how did this happen? And is there a way out? McGhee embarks on a deeply personal journey across the country from Maine to Mississippi to California, tallying what we lose when we buy into the zero-sum paradigm – the idea that progress for some of us must come at the expense of others.

 

Read More


Member Highlight: David Lewis

Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations

May27

Leadership development in Southern philanthropy has long been part of SECF’s mission and work, as seen in programs like the CEO Forum and the Hull Fellows program.

It made sense, then, to establish a special group dedicated to applying an equity lens to this type of work – that group, the Equity Committee’s Equity Leadership Opportunities Subcommittee, met for the first time in April.

One of the subcommittee’s members, David Lewis, is an equity officer at the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation in Little Rock, Arkansas. Leadership development, he says, is critical to promoting equity in Southern communities.

“Advancing any type of change requires a great deal of courage on the part of those organizing for change – as such, the movement for equity demands a courageous disposition,” David said. “Those who expect to lead the masses must be risk takers who are unafraid to support the unconventional and embrace the idea of reimagining how we show up in communities, how we support communities, and how we build agency within communities for sustainable change.”

The subcommittee is a natural fit for David in a number of ways – his portfolio at the foundation is specifically focused on leadership development and movement building. Plus, as a relative newcomer to philanthropy – he started at the foundation in October 2019 – he is on the same journey as many others who are new to the field.

“The Equity Leadership Opportunities Subcommittee is an excellent place for me to use my knowledge and skills in the areas of organizational and leadership development to advance SECF’s transformative equity framework throughout the region,” he said. “While there were many things that excited me about this opportunity, the most exciting has been the ability to bring a different perspective to the larger conversation as an emerging professional in philanthropy.”

Read More


Member Highlight: David Galvin

Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations

May20

p>SECF’s commitment to equity is about more than the work of our members – it also extends to our own actions and policies.

To help ensure SECF lives its values, the Equity Committee recently established an HR Policy Subcommittee focused on the organization’s internal practices. The committee’s roster includes the voices of human resources professionals who work for SECF members – including David Galvin, the senior director of HR and operations at the Coastal Community Foundation (CCF).

David has plenty of hands-on experience developing new HR policies – he was the foundation’s first-ever HR officer when he joined the staff in 2018 after being hired by CEO Darrin Goss, Sr.

“He immediately demonstrated that his commitment to our coastal South Carolina communities included our hard-working staff members, as much of CCF’s success links directly to the success of our team members both at work and outside of work,” David said. “Over the past few years, CCF has improved employee benefits and promoted a healthy work-life balance.”

Since his hiring, David had helped implement policies that deal with the basics of HR – retirement plans, time off, etc. – while also aligning with the foundation’s values. For example, employees can take paid time off to volunteer with local nonprofits and are able to evaluate themselves with a tool that helps them see how their work connects directly to CCF’s Purpose, Core Values, and Strategic Framework. 

One of those Core Values, a commitment to inclusion with equity, has had a direct impact on the foundation’s recruitment and hiring, David said.

Read More


SECF's Next Chapter: A Commitment to Courageous Leadership

Author: Janine Lee

Apr29

This week, we proudly announced our Courageous Leadership Strategy, a new strategic direction that will guide SECF’s work through 2025. We are incredibly excited to begin this new chapter of SECF’s history – one we believe will be transformative for not just our organization, but also all of Southern philanthropy and the communities in our region.

While this strategic direction will be used to establish concrete goals for our staff and Board – you can view our specific goals here – we sought to develop a plan for 2021-25 that would go beyond a list of items. We wanted to define a new approach for SECF that reflects all we have done in recent years as well as the challenges and opportunities of today. 

Thanks to the hard work of our Strategic Planning Task Force, our staff and our Board, I am confident we have succeeded in putting SECF on a bold path defined by a commitment to courage.

Our overriding goal for this new chapter is to not only demonstrate courageous leadership, but also call our members to it. We believe answering the call to courageous leadership will be essential to meet the opportunities and challenges facing both philanthropy in the South and communities in the South during the next five years. 

We plan to exercise courageous leadership by pursuing 10 priorities, both internal and external, plus a vital cross-cutting priority: ongoing integration of our Equity Framework, first introduced in 2019.

By committing ourselves to courageous leadership, SECF is also committing itself to mobilize people and resources, in our organization and our network, in service to a new mission: We will strengthen Southern philanthropy, welcoming our members to listen, learn and collaborate on ideas and actions to help build an equitable, prosperous South.

This work, we hope, will bring into reality a new vision: a courageous community of philanthropists, leading work that results in an equitable South defined by justice, hope and opportunity for all.

Fulfilling commitments to our new mission and vision, as well as the values and guiding principles we adopted last year, will require hard work. We must address critical issues facing philanthropy in the South and its communities. We must take risks and make bold leaps.

By adopting this new direction, we pledge to do all of these things – and will call our members to do the same. I am confident that many of you will answer this call. We look forward to sharing this journey with you!

Janine Lee is president and CEO of the Southeastern Council of Foundations.

Read More


SECF Members on Embedding Racial Equity in Public Policy Work

Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations

Apr01

Last month, attendees at this year’s Foundations on the Hill had the opportunity to hear from three SECF leaders on how they can incorporate racial equity into their public policy work. Today, we’re excited to offer all our members the opportunity to view this informative and powerful session!

The session included insights from Darrin Goss, Sr., president and CEO of the Coastal Community Foundation of South Carolina, Chynna Phillips, research and policy director for the Sisters of Charity Foundation of South Carolina, and Kenita Williams, chief of staff and director of leadership development for the Southern Education Foundation.

Read More


Our Response to Anti-Asian Violence

Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations

Mar17

We are deeply saddened and disturbed by yesterday’s shootings in Atlanta that left eight dead, including six Asian American women. These horrific incidents are only the latest in a national wave of violence targeting people of Asian descent. We strongly condemn these actions, as well as the use of racist rhetoric against Asian people that has stoked the flames of hatred and put lives and safety at risk.

We stand with our friends at Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy (AAPIP) who are working to raise awareness of the issues facing the Asian American/Pacific Islander community and the nonprofit organizations that support them. AAPIP has also responded to yesterday’s violence and has prepared a resource guide for grantmakers looking to do more in their own communities – these actions can help support those in need and further the essential work of building a society free of racial violence.

Read More


Our Chair's Book Club Winter 2020 Selection: The Color of Law

Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations

Nov19

 

During last week's Annual Meeting, we announced the Winter 2020 selection for our Chair's Book Club: Richard Rothstein's The Color of Law!

As we did with our previous selection, Anthony Ray Hinton's The Sun Does Shine, we will bring Book Club participants together for virtual programs over the coming months while also providing discussion guides to help deepen understanding of the issues Rothstein addresses. All SECF members are eligible to join the Chair's Book Club, one of several initiatives inspired by our Equity Framework.

In The Color of Law, Rothstein argues that unconstitutional government housing policies, not merely de facto segregation caused by private actors, have systematically deprived Black families of generational wealth and access to quality education for decades.

These issues were also the focus of Rothstein's plenary remarks at last week’s Annual Meeting. (If you registered for the Annual Meeting, you can watch Rothstein's plenary now -- other SECF members will be able to access a recording next month!)

You can join the Chair's Book Club today! More information on programming and resources for Book Club participants will be announced soon! If you're already a Chair's Book Club member, you'll automatically receive updates related to our latest selection!

Read More


Helping the Formerly Incarcerated Integrate Into the Community – and Stay Out of Prison

Author: Tristi Charpentier

Aug12

For years, Louisiana incarcerated more people per capita than anywhere in the world. At an annual rate of more than $17,000 per inmate, incarceration costs Louisiana taxpayers almost $700 million each year,1 and nearly 36 percent of formerly incarcerated persons return to prison within three years of their exits.2

Since 2004, the Huey and Angelina Wilson Foundation has funded programs to reduce the barriers hindering the successful return of individuals to communities in Louisiana. While it may be easy to forget people behind bars, 95 percent of those imprisoned will return to our communities.3 Recidivism – the subsequent commission of a crime and reincarceration – affects every member of the community.

In 2015, the foundation embarked on a journey to become more strategic in its prison re-entry work. We recognized that in order to achieve a large-scale reduction in recidivism rates, it would be insufficient for the foundation to continue to provide small, direct-service grants. The foundation partnered with The Rensselaerville Institute to develop a Strategic Results Framework with two goals in mind: to become an investor in outcomes rather than a funder of activities, and to create an initiative focused on supporting the success of returning citizens. These two ideas came together in the form of the three-year, $3 million Prison Reentry Initiative. 

One of the keys to the Initiative was a shift in the foundation’s decision-making approach: from funding of activities to investing in results. Applications for the Initiative were evaluated from the perspective of an investor answering three critical questions:

  • What results are being proposed?
  • How likely is it that this group can achieve the proposed results?
  • Is this the best possible use of foundation funds?

Read More


A Call to Action for Southern Philanthropy

Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations

Jun04


“Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.” – James Baldwin

The murder of George Floyd and the week of protests across the country in response have focused people’s attention as never before on issues of racial justice and police brutality. These events have coincided with a pandemic that has disproportionately affected communities of color through deaths, hospitalizations, health care costs, job losses and business closures.

These events weigh heavily on all of us. But they have also sparked a profound conversation on our nation’s long and painful history of systemic racial inequity, injustice, bigotry and discrimination. This conversation is long overdue ­– we cannot allow it to fade or dissipate, only to restart when another act of injustice commands our attention. Southern foundations should leverage their reputational capital and convening power to bring people together, bridge divides and ensure this dialogue not only continues, but also results in transformative changes.

As a network of Southern philanthropic organizations, we are acutely aware of our region’s own history. The names are etched into our memory: Emmett Till, Addie May Collins, Carol Denise McNair, Cynthia Wesley, Carole Rosamond Robertson, Johnny Robinson, James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, Michael Schwerner, Jimmie Lee Jackson, John Geer, William Chapman, Henry Glover, Kathryn Johnston, Anthony Hill, Walter Scott, Trayvon Martin, Jamarion Robinson, Alton Sterling, Keith Lamont Scott, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, David McAtee – they are only some of the people on a list that includes millions of enslaved Africans, thousands of victims of lynching and countless others whose deaths, whether at the hands of racist law enforcement, mob violence, or bigoted individuals, have continually been minimized, justified, ignored or even encouraged and carried out by those in power.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., an Atlanta native and a victim of racial violence himself, spent years leading a movement based on the principles of nonviolent resistance and civil disobedience – principles he never abandoned even as he and his supporters were often met with firehoses, attack dogs, tear gas and vicious beatings. While denouncing violence, he also understood the context in which it took place, saying “I think that we’ve got to see that a riot is the language of the unheard.”

We urge everyone in Southern philanthropy, as well as our political and civic leaders in the region, to keep these words in mind. Focusing on the actions of a few bad actors distracts us from the cause that has sparked this week’s protests. It also distracts us from discussing a far greater evil: hundreds of years of racial violence, discrimination and exclusion that continues today and is a direct cause of disparities in health, wealth, education, and other key measurements of prosperity.

In recent years, the Southeastern Council of Foundations has sought to highlight and improve understanding of these inequities and others. In our Equity Framework, we call on philanthropy in our region to acknowledge the historical roots of inequity and the present-day systems that perpetuate it, and to then use its resources to spark transformation that allows all people to reach their full potential, unhindered by hatred, bigotry, exclusion or discrimination.

Foundations have many tools at their disposal to create unity, promote peace and support justice for the people in their communities. Beyond financial resources, our social, moral, intellectual and reputational capital must be expended if we are to achieve real change, advance equity and embody the very meaning of philanthropy: love of humankind.

The past week not only shows just how important this work is, but also strengthens our commitment to it. We ask all people who share this goal to join us so that we, together, may build a region where all people can participate and prosper.

Read More


Announcing the First Selection of the Chair's Book Club: The Sun Does Shine

Author: Regan Gruber Moffitt and Robert Dortch

May14


We are excited to invite you to join the new SECF Chair’s Book Club. Our hope is that the books we read and the discussions we have will inspire us to find common ground, build meaningful relationships, and deepen our understanding of equity.
The first book, The Sun Does Shine: How I Found Life, Freedom, and Justice by Anthony Ray Hinton, builds on the deeply moving and passionate keynote by Bryan Stevenson at the SECF’s 50th Annual Meeting last November.  Stevenson, who spent his career helping those who were unjustly accused or wrongfully convicted, called upon philanthropy to be proximate to the places, people and problems that our organizations support, to change existing narratives, to remain hopeful and, most importantly, to do things that are uncomfortable and inconvenient. Anthony Ray Hinton was one of those who was represented by Stevenson. 

The Sun Does Shine is Hinton’s memoir of peace, purpose, and eventually freedom after serving 30 years on Alabama’s death row after being wrongfully convicted. The brilliantly written personal narrative instructs, inspires, and creates an imperative for action. 

SECF is providing access to the eBook version of the title through our recently launched Lending Library, or you can obtain a copy through your local bookseller or public library. Sign up here to participate in the Chair’s Book Club and we’ll soon share more information on how to get started and how to engage in discussion groups with your fellow SECF members.

Regan Gruber Moffitt is chief strategy officer at the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation and chair of the SECF Board of Trustees. Robert Dortch is vice president of program and community innovation at the Robins Foundation and chair-elect of the SECF Board.

Read More


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.