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 or at (404) 524-0911 to discuss your idea.

Funder-to-Funder COVID-19 Town Hall Highlights Rapid Response Across Region

Category: Programs, Coronavirus, 
Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations


On March 31, more than 150 SECF members gathered online for a virtual town hall to learn about the work being done across the region to support communities affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Attendees heard from several foundation leaders across the region and had the opportunity to ask questions, get answers and share details of their own work to address the health, economic and equity impacts of the outbreak.

Robert Dortch, vice president of program and community innovation at the Robins Foundation in Richmond, Virginia, said his foundation’s approach was rooted in a question – “What does this mean?” – applies to children, families, schools, communities and nonprofits. The foundation has partnered with the Family Independence Initiative to provide direct support to families affected by the pandemic.

“What we've learned a lot about is compassion,” Robert said. “You're seeing a lot of compassion and a need to come together.”

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SECF's Philanthropy Essentials Guides Theory Through Conversation

Category: Programs, 
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.

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Meet This Year's Champions of Southern Philanthropy

Category: Programs, 
Author: David Miller


For the third year in a row, SECF’s Annual Meeting will include a morning plenary showcasing a few of the leaders who represent Southern Philanthropy’s power to transform lives and communities and are among our sector’s strongest supporters.

That’s right – the Breakfast with Champions of Southern Philanthropy is back! This year, we’ve introduced a new twist: All five of this year’s panelists are trustees. As stewards of the mission and purpose of their foundations, these men and women provide a long-term perspective that is essential to making a lasting impact across the region.

One thing we’re glad hasn’t changed: Mark Constantine, president and CEO of the Richmond Memorial Health Foundation, has once again agreed to moderate this discussion, guaranteeing insightful questions, meaningful dialogue, moving moments – and more than a few laughs.

Joining Mark on stage will be five trustees selected for their strong leadership – at their foundations, in their communities, and within the philanthropic sector.

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Registration Now Open for SECF's 49th Annual Meeting

Category: Programs, 
Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations


Today's the day: Registration is now open for SECF's 49th Annual Meeting: Come Together. Bridge the Divide. The region's premiere philanthropic event will draw grantmakers, experts and thought leaders to Louisville, Kentucky, for three days of connection, ​engagement ​and ​inspiration. ​We ​will ​confront ​critical ​issues ​facing ​our ​field ​– ​rising ​economic ​inequality, ​increasing ​polarization, ​and ​questions ​about ​philanthropy's ​role ​and ​purpose ​– ​while ​celebrating ​the ​ideas ​and ​people ​that ​are ​strengthening ​the ​fabric ​of ​our ​communities ​and ​pointing ​the ​way ​to ​a ​bright ​future.

This year's meeting features a fantastic lineup of keynote and plenary speakers who will be able to speak to this moment in the history of not only our nation, but also our region and our host city. Our featured speakers are:

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One Foundation, Three Perspectives on SECF's Essential Skills & Strategies

Category: Programs, 
Author: Anna Sims, Josina Greene & Kelli Parker


Editor’s Note: On January 31 – February 1 this year, three staff members from the Community Foundation of the Chattahoochee Valley (CFCV) attended SECF’s Essential Skills & Strategies for New Grantmakers in Atlanta. Each of them took the time to offer some thoughts on their experience.

A Few Lessons Learned
Anna Sims, Grants and Communication Associate

Oftentimes in life, the best way to learn is to just do it – to simply jump in and get to it! That’s a large part of how I’ve learned what I’ve learned as the grants and communication associate at the Community Foundation of the Chattahoochee Valley after nearly two years. Of course, I wouldn’t have it any other way, but in the hustle and bustle of our daily lives, we may have missed some key pieces to the puzzle.

We can only do so much with our limited time day to day, which is why it’s such a valuable opportunity to attend a workshop like Essential Skills & Strategies for New Grantmakers, hosted by SECF. This seminar reinforced much of what I’ve learned on the job. But it also introduced some key themes that I’ve never had the opportunity to learn and explore.

One of those key concepts, part of the Making Sound Funding Recommendations section, involved learning what healthy financials should look like when examining a grantee and making a sound funding recommendation. We studied key financial documents, such as 990s, balance sheets and income statements.

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Three Lessons Learned at Community Foundation Boot Camp

Category: Programs, 


Last month, I had the opportunity to attend the Community Foundation Boot Camp presented by SECF and the Florida Philanthropic Network. As a practitioner transitioning from the world of private philanthropy to the world of community foundations, nothing could’ve been more timely. A training that summarizes the history of the field, gets me acquainted with the “art” of grantmaking, and expands my network to 40 new colleagues in the span of two days – sign me up, please! The training was also made worthwhile by a faculty that represented some of the most respected and experienced professionals in the field.

I’ll share three quick things I learned during my experience at Boot Camp:

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A One-Stop Shop for Community Foundation Pros

Category: Programs, 


Working in the community foundation field is one of the best jobs anyone could have. To spend your days in service to your community is a privilege.

But community foundations are complicated animals. All those funds! All those laws! The learning curve is steep for those new the field. Even community foundation veterans who are experts in their job may not really understand all the aspects of a community foundation.  

At the Indiana Philanthropy Alliance we are fortunate to have the resources to develop a two-day curriculum we call “Boot Camp.” We love sharing this with the community foundations around the country. We get to meet fantastic, dedicated professionals and volunteers. We are excited about our upcoming trip to Orlando to present Boot Camp on June 20-21.   

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Responding to Our Members' Needs With Relevant Programming

Tags: SECF Staff 
Category: Programs, 


SECF has long demonstrated a high level of commitment to being responsive to the educational needs of its membership. As part of our recently conducted biennial member survey, we intentionally asked our members to provide feedback on what programming offerings they would most like to see delivered in the near future. The purpose was to ensure that our programs were both relevant and in alignment with our member interests.

We received a robust number of suggestions that have aided us in the planning and design of our in-person and virtual programming activities over the course of 2017. As our member survey key findings report indicates, there a few top areas of interest that our members expressed. We have aimed to be responsive to these interests based on our recent and upcoming programs.

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Southeastern Council of Foundations
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Visiting SECF:
All staff are working remotely at this time but can still be reached via email and by calling (404) 524-0911.

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