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.

Hull Fellows Highlight: Cari Campbell

Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations


Throughout the 20-plus years of SECF’s Hull Fellows program, SunTrust’s Foundations & Endowments Specialty Practice, along with the SunTrust Foundation, have sent numerous staff into the leadership development program.

SunTrust is now Truist, but the name change hasn’t affected the strong relationship between the bank’s philanthropic support arm and the Hull Fellows – Cari Campbell, a first vice president at Truist’s Foundations & Endowments Specialty Practice, is keeping the tradition going strong.

“I had heard the Hull Fellows program was an outstanding leadership development program through several colleagues who had participated in the program,” Cari said. “I was encouraged to apply by my then-manager, [SunTrust Foundation President] Stan Little, who thought it would be an outstanding growth opportunity.”

Cari’s Hull experience has been a little different from those of her colleagues – the in-person retreat was delayed to next year due to the pandemic, for example – but she’s still gaining the insights and connections that have made the program a success for so long.

“We have heard from great philanthropic leaders via our monthly webinars which has provided me great additional knowledge and insight,” she said. “I’m so happy to make new friends in the Hull Fellows program and look forward to deepening these relationships at our newly added May 2021 retreat and throughout the coming years.”

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5 Reasons Your Whole Team Should Attend the 51st Annual Meeting

Category: Annual Meeting, 
Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations



In less than two months, we’ll gather online for SECF’s 51st Annual Meeting – and we hope you and all your colleagues will be there!

Your entire staff – and even your board – at the Annual Meeting? This year, it’s not only easy to do, but also the smart thing to do. Here’s why:


1. It’s an incredible value!
No airfare, no hotel rooms, but plenty of fantastic content, all at a greatly reduced rate. Plus, if you miss a session or have to step away, you can access archived recordings and materials whenever your schedule allows!


2. There’s something for everyone!
No matter your interests, role or experience level, you’ll get something out the Annual Meeting. Our sessions address a diverse set of topics – including evaluation, mentorship, work-life balance, storytelling, investment and risk-taking – while keeping a focus on the issues that have dominated this eventful year.


3. It’s easy to fit into your day!
We’ve designed our agenda to work with your team’s schedule – the bulk of our content is concentrated into a couple of hours each day. You’ll learn plenty while being plenty productive!


4. It’s a shared experience!
When was the last time your entire team was in the same place at once? SECF’s Annual Meeting provides an experience everyone can share, both during and long afterward!


5. Your entire foundation – and the community you serve – will benefit!
When your entire team attends the Annual Meeting, each of them will end the experience with new insights, information and inspiration – all of which will quickly be reflected in the work you do on behalf of the organizations you support and the people you serve. 


Visit the Annual Meeting website now and you’ll probably discover many more reasons you and your colleagues should join us in November. Register yourself – and your colleagues – today!

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Hull Fellows Highlight: Allison Brody

Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations


Allison Brody’s experiences within SECF, including the work she’s doing today as a Hull Fellow, have helped her during a critical time for not only her professional development, but also the future of the Williamsburg Health Foundation.

“SECF has helped me find the language and the direction I needed to better do the work of equity,” said Allison, the foundation’s director of community engagement. “At an Annual Meeting a few years ago, I heard Michael McAfee from PolicyLink speak. His session helped me put pieces together.”

This year, Allison is putting those experiences to work as the Williamsburg Health Foundation moves through the strategic planning process – one that has been directly affected by both the COVID-19 pandemic and the murder of George Floyd.

“I think COVID-19 and the murder of George Floyd have made us all work deeper on racial justice and equity,” she said. “My foundation is going through strategic planning. Equity has a greater imperative in that plan, I think, than it might have otherwise. We’re doubling down on social determinants of health.”

Allison’s family history has had a strong impact on her perspective on racial equity. Her uncle, a white Jewish man from Long Island, participated in the 1963 March on Washington led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and served as a trustee for Alabama’s Tuskegee University, among the country’s most prominent historically black colleges and universities. Years later, her son, a Jewish student leader at the University of Virginia, would lead a candlelight march through campus in response to the white supremacist “Unite the Right” event.

“Working – and I mean that in the most active sense of the verb – toward a more equitable future is part of my cultural and personal inheritance, not to mention my job,” Allison said. “Seeking justice is not only part of both who I am as an individual and as a professional but also part of my Jewish cultural and familial inheritance.”

Allison, noting that she is married to a white police officer, said she still believes that overcoming division to combat racism is still possible, even in a polarized country.

“Some of my close friends and family believe being anti-police is equivalent to being anti-racist.  I don’t and I can’t,” she said. “I hope philanthropy can be the ‘passing gear’ to help heal the divides in our country, which feel overwhelming at times.”

Allison is now investing in her own future in philanthropy as a Hull Fellow. She says the experience has already allowed her to form deep connections, even if most of her interactions take place via videoconference.

“I’ve have met many determined and inspiring people,” she said. “I absolutely love my Hull Capstone group. We meet once a week, and our discussions are incredibly valuable to me personally and professionally.”

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Nominations Are Open for the 2020 Truist Promise Award!

Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations


This year’s Annual Meeting will feature the first presentation of the Truist Promise Award recognizing innovative philanthropy in the Southeast! We are excited to announce that we are now accepting nominations for this prestigious honor!

The Truist Promise Award will recognize a particular initiative and/or innovative grantmaking strategy or approach, done by an individual organization or through a collective partnership – as such, it may be presented to more than one foundation if the initiative is a product of partnership and collaboration. Due to the extraordinary health, economic, and racial justice crises currently facing the country, this year’s Promise Award will also recognize work that focuses on at least one of these areas.

Nominees must meet the following criteria:

  • Work focused on issues of racial equity, racial justice or anti-racism.
  • The innovative use of multiple forms of philanthropic capital, particularly beyond financial capital.
  • Use of data and research in determining strategies and tactics.
  • Cooperation with community partners, particularly in other sectors, or direct engagement with community members.
  • Impact/outcomes that are evidence-based.

You may nominate any SECF member organization, including your own, for the Promise Award. The recipient will be selected by a group of SECF staff and Board members and recognized at the 2021 Annual Meeting.

Nominations are due Friday, October 9. Click here to submit your nominee!

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Hull Fellows Highlight: Julianna Cagle

Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations


This year has provided an education for many in philanthropy – a reality that is doubly true for this year’s class of Hull Fellows.

Members of the 2019-20 Hull Class began their experience at last year’s Annual Meeting and has continued since then through monthly webinars. While those have continued, the Hull Spring Retreat, normally an in-person experience, became a virtual one. Coffees with Hull Mentors have become Zoom calls. Capstone projects are being planned via Skype.

The pandemic hasn’t taken away from the overall value of the Hull experience, however. Julianna Cagle, vice president of programs at The Goizueta Foundation in Atlanta, says the program has helped her better understand the value of philanthropy.

“I have learned that this work truly matters,” she says. “We have had incredible speakers come and share with us how we, as philanthropists, can actively be impacting outcomes related to COVID-19 and racial equity. Though the program has primarily been virtual at this point, we have been able to form connections and bonds within this group that go beyond just ‘networking’ and have become more intentional and strategic thought-partnerships.”

Julianna says she was attracted to the program to help her gain grounding in a field she joined just over a year ago. She also had plenty of encouragement along the way.

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SECF’s Southern Trends Report Now Includes Five Years of Data on Philanthropy in the Southeast

Category: Research & Data, 
Author: Stephen Sherman


The Southern Trends Report, SECF’s statistical dashboard on Southeast foundations, has recently been updated with 2018 data on foundations and grantmaking, providing a five-year snapshot of trends in the field. Data will continue to be added for 2018, but the latest figures show a number of key findings. 

  • Assets of Southeastern foundations contracted slightly to $108 billion: In 2017, assets totaled $118 billion for all foundations. With financial data for some foundations still forthcoming, assets of Southeastern foundations were about $10 billion less in 2018.
  • Giving by Southeast foundations stayed steady at over $8 billion: Total giving by the region’s foundations, with some grants data still to be counted, was more than $8.2 billion.
  • Children and education remain the leading focus areas of foundation grants in the Southeast: Over $2.4 billion in grants were awarded to education-related purposes in 2018, more than twice as much as the next leading category - health. Nearly $1.5 billion was awarded to programs or organizations serving children and youth, making that population group the top recipient of foundation funding. 
  • Program development and general support were the top types of support provided: Close to a third of grant dollars awarded by Southeast foundations were designated for program development and a just under a quarter were allocated for general operating support. 
  • Two-thirds of giving by Southeast foundations stayed within the region: The share of in-region giving by Southeast foundations rose slightly to 66 percent.

The Southern Trends Report is developed in partnership with Candid. The dashboard provides an at-a-glance overview of institutional philanthropy in the Southeast region and is updated annually incorporating data from foundations that participate in Candid’s eReporting program and with data from IRS filings. For historical data and analysis of longer-term trends, see the Key Findings section of the site. 

Stephen Sherman is SECF's director of research and data.

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Recent Additions to the SECF Lending Library

Category: Member Benefits, 
Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations


SECF’s Lending Library gives our members the ability to borrow e-books and audiobooks on a variety of topics relevant to Southern philanthropy. Like any library, we’re constantly updating our offerings with new titles that reflect emerging trends and topics in the news. We’ve highlighted some of our most recent additions below!

If you’re not already using it, you can learn more about the Lending Library here to get started or browse our full collection of titles.  

Have a book or author you’d like to borrow that isn’t in our collection? Suggest a title by contacting Stephen Sherman via email at or by phone at (404) 524-0911.

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Public Policy Update - September 2020

Category: Public Policy, 
Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations


Each month, SECF provides members with monthly updates on the latest public policy developments in Washington and state capitols around the region, analyzing their possible impact on the charitable sector. If you would like to see an issue featured in a future Public Policy Update, contact Jaci Bertrand, SECF's vice president of member engagement, at


This month’s policy update contains less news than normal – both chambers of Congress are in recess through Labor Day. Here’s a quick review of what will be awaiting lawmakers when they return to Washington in September.


COVID Relief Talks Remain Stalled as Shutdown Looms

As we reported in our August update, negotiations over the next round of COVID-19 relief legislation have stalled over several disagreements between House Democrats, Senate Republicans ­– who need Democratic votes to overcome a filibuster – and the White House. 

Both the House and Senate left town with many issues still unresolved. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi did bring the House back into session last month, but only to consider legislation that would provide funding for the Post Office amid rising concerns about its ability to handle a large number of mail-in ballots expected for this year’s election.

Adding to the pressure when lawmakers return will be the looming September 30 deadline for Congress to continue funding the government. If no spending legislation is passed, the government will shut down – something neither party, nor President Trump, wants to happen in an election year during a pandemic.

It remains unclear how the possible shutdown will affect COVID relief legislation, but the deadline introduces another factor that could shape negotiations.

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Supporting Communities Affected by Hurricane Laura

Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations


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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51st Annual Meeting Speaker Highlight: James E.K. Hildreth, Ph.D., M.D.

Category: Annual Meeting, 
Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations


In 2020, two issues have dominated the conversation in philanthropy: the COVID-19 pandemic and the fight against racial injustice. The two issues are also highly intertwined, with the weight of the pandemic falling disproportionately on Black and Latinx communities.

One speaker at SECF’s 51st Annual Meeting may be more qualified than anyone else to discuss the inequity of the pandemic: James E.K. Hildreth, president and CEO of Nashville’s Meharry Medical College, the first medical school for African Americans in the South, and one of the world’s foremost researchers of infectious disease, particularly HIV/AIDS. 

Hildreth will speak during Race, Place & Systemic Inequities, a concurrent session taking place on the Annual Meeting’s first day. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Hildreth has been vocal online, using his Twitter account to urge continued public vigilance to fight the pandemic. Earlier this month, Hildreth wrote a letter to Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee urging a statewide mask mandate.

“We need a coordinated, statewide response to combat this virus and that can only be achieved with your forceful leadership, particularly on masking,” Hildreth wrote. “Decisions made during this pandemic should be guided by science, and the science clearly dictates that masks effectively reduce transmission.”

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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.