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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.


Philanthropy Responds to Hurricane Ida

Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations

Sep02

Hurricane Ida made landfall on August 29 as the second-most intense hurricane to strike Louisiana, behind only Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The storm has caused multiple deaths, left millions without power and caused at least $15 billion in damage in Louisiana alone.

A number of SECF members have responded by either establishing relief funds that are accepting donations or making grants of their own. Follow the links below to learn more.

Relief Funds

SECF Members Supporting Relief & Recovery

SECF co-sponsored a webinar for funders earlier today hosted by the Center for Disaster Philanthropy. A recording of the webinar will be posted here when it is available.

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Data Sharing Made Easy

Author: Erin Baird

Jun24

If there was something easy that you could do to improve the quality and availability of grant data for your region, would you do it? Well, there is. You can become an eReporter with Candid and share your giving data with grantees, other funders, and the public. This data is fed into resources such as the Southern Trends Report, Candid’s many pop-up resource pages, and interactive platforms such as Foundation Maps, which visually displays over 22 million grants from over 158,000 foundations mapped by geographic location. 

Allegany Franciscan Ministries has been an eReporter since 2013. The process is easy. Candid has a template of the information they are looking for. This includes fields like organization name, recipient address, project description and grant amount. At Allegany, we use a report template Foundant created for us specifically for eReporting. Twice a year, we simply adjust the reporting dates, run the report and review it prior to sharing the information with Candid. It’s that easy.

As a benefit of sharing our grant data, we receive free access to our organization’s foundation map. Our updated foundation map helps grantseekers and other funders learn about our work. Take a look at ours here. We share our map on our website and use this tool to communicate how we are meeting our mission of being a compassionate and transforming, healing presence within our communities. If you are interested in sharing your work with the broader philanthropic community, consider being an eReporter for Candid.

Learn more about sharing your grants data by visiting the SECF website here. For details on how eReporting works, see this new how-to-guide from Candid. 

Already an eReporter? Be sure to submit your FY2020 grants data by June 30!

Erin Baird is director of grants at Allegany Franciscan Ministries.

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Supporting Communities Affected by Hurricane Laura

Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations

Aug28

At least six people are dead following the devastation of Hurricane Laura, which made landfall early Thursday near Lake Charles, Louisiana, as a powerful Category 4 storm.

Officials on the ground are just beginning to assess damage from the storm, which, while weakened, has also brought significant rainfall to the rest of Louisiana and Arkansas. According to the Center for Disaster Philanthropy, “areas hit by Laura include regions of the continental U.S. that have some of the counties/parishes with the lowest median income in the country. These areas are highly dependent on subsistence work, manufacturing, oil and gas, and other industries that can be deeply affected by hurricane-related disruptions. They also have some of the lowest road and public transportation densities in the U.S.”

Philanthropy has a critical role to play in natural disaster recovery, particularly once initial relief efforts by government and organizations like the Red Cross have run their course. Two community foundations in the area have set up funds that are taking donations – money raised for these funds will go toward long-term relief and recovery:

Other community foundations in areas affected by the storm include: 

Finally, the Center for Disaster Philanthropy has an Atlantic Hurricane Season Recovery Fund that has been created to help focus on the greatest areas of need for the recovery process.

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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?

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Responding to COVID-19 in... Hartsville, South Carolina

Author:

May14

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


Even though small towns are often just as vulnerable to the health and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, they also lack many of the tools and resources available in larger communities to help with response, relief and recovery.

Place-based philanthropy has a vital role to play in situations like these. One example comes from Hartsville, South Carolina, where the Byerly Foundation has emerged as a key player in the community’s response.

Hartsville, a city with a population of less than 8,000 in the northeast corner of the state, hasn’t been among a number of rural communities in the region to emerge as “hot spots” for the pandemic. However, it is still vulnerable to the considerable effects of school and business closures.

“All of us have been responding the various issues of the pandemic since the beginning of March. Hartsville, like everywhere else, ended up with more questions about what might be happening than specific issues that could be attacked,” said Richard Puffer, the Byerly Foundation’s executive director. “It became apparent to our city officials very early that this pandemic was going to have impacts that were never anticipated.”

Puffer and the foundation’s Board were eager to support the community it has called home since it was established in the 1990s. Thankfully, they were able to draw plenty of ideas and inspiration from the well-connected network of other South Carolina grantmakers responding to the pandemic.

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Tapping Into the Communities We Serve

Author:

Sep05

Note: This post is an excerpt from an article posted last month at North Carolina State University's Philanthropy Journal and is published here with permission.

When I joined the Robins Foundation in 2014 – which aims to advance the greater Richmond community through strategic partnerships, collaborations and education – the role of director of inclusion and community impact didn’t exist. As the foundation became proactive in the region, our role evolved in responding to our partners’ needs.

In 2017, my position was created to address fairness and equitable access to quality resources. We have a strong interest in investing in programs that enrich whole families and whole neighborhoods, with a particular interest in children and their academic opportunities and success. We have three main principals – partnership, innovation and fairness. It became clear that to achieve this, we needed to take a more intentional approach toward equity and inclusion. One of the ways we do this is by embracing the idea that communities know what they need.

Here’s an example of how this has worked within our foundation. Each year, we hold a $500,000 Community Innovation Grant (CIG) competition. Organizations from all over the Richmond region apply for the grant and propose actionable solutions that have a meaningful and measurable impact. The proposals address complex issues that our region has been wrestling with for generations, including trauma-informed care, the school-to-prison pipeline, housing instability, education, workforce development and health.

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Philanthropy Responds to Hurricane Dorian

Category: Grantmaking, 
Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations

Sep05

After battering the Bahamas earlier this week, Hurricane Dorian is now bearing down on the Southeastern coast, bringing dangerous rain, wind and storm surge flooding to the Carolinas. 

Current projections show the storm’s effects will be felt most strongly in South Carolina through Thursday night before moving up the coast to North Carolina and Virginia.

Already, several SECF members and partners have activated relief funds that will support recovery once Dorian passes. These include:

The Center for Disaster Philanthropy has already announced a webinar for funders interested in supporting recovery efforts in The Bahamas. We will notify SECF members of other programs as they are announced.

SECF is also ready to provide support to any members directly affected by the storm – please contact our offices at (404) 524-0911 to reach our staff.

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Youth Organizing Can Be a Powerful Strategy for Funders

Author: Eric Braxton

May16

Part of the power of youth organizing is that it connects individual transformation to systemic change, and supporting youth-led change is an important grantmaking strategy. It brings together the right people with the right strategies to create social change and protects our other investments by cultivating a leadership pipeline for the future. From the Civil Rights Movement to current efforts for safe communities and just schools, young people from across the South have always been at the forefront of advocating for just and equitable communities. Building on this proud tradition, a new generation of Southern young people is leading efforts to advance health, justice, equity and dignity. At the same time, new research is showing that engaging young people in organizing to create lasting change in their communities is one of the best ways to support their development. Youth organizing efforts in the South have succeeded in achieving real change for their communities such as:

The Funders’ Collaborative on Youth Organizing (FCYO), in collaboration with Grantmakers for Southern Progress, The Highlander Research and Education Center, Project South, The Southeastern Council of Foundations, Southern Echo, Inc., Southern Vision Alliance and The United Way of Greater Atlanta is holding a funder briefing on June 4 from 10:00am to 5:00pm at the Loudermilk Conference Center in Atlanta, Georgia, to engage with youth leaders and local and national funders to discuss how to support young people as drivers of community change across the South. We urge funders across the region to join us.

Attendees can expect three takeaways from this interactive day:

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An Innovative Approach to Launching and Sustaining Student Success

Category: Grantmaking, 
Author: Karen Lambert

Oct24

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.

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Responding to Hurricane Florence

Category: Grantmaking, 
Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations

Sep13

UPDATE (Monday, September 17): After making landfall last week, Florence has continued to bring catastrophic rain and flooding to the Carolinas. SECF has partnered with the Center for Disaster Philanthropy to present a special webinar, Hurricane Florence: What's Next?, at 3:00pm Eastern on Tuesday, September 18. Click here to register!

Within hours, Hurricane Florence is expected to make landfall somewhere along the Carolina coast. The Category 2 storm is expected to produce high winds, massive flooding and torrential rains.

Many SECF member foundations, and their staff and trustees, are in areas that have already been evacuated or will be affected by the storm as it moves through the region in the coming days. We are keeping everyone affected by this storm in our thoughts and hope those who have had to leave their communities are able to return home soon. SECF is also ready to support any member organization directly affected by the hurricane.

Many grantmakers are already wondering what they can do to assist with relief and recovery in the wake of Florence. SECF has partnered with the Center for Disaster Philanthropy for a special webinar at 3:00pm Eastern on Tuesday, September 18, on how grantmakers can respond to the storm. Registration is now open at CDP's Hurricane Florence overview page.

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

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