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.

Now Available: 2021 Salary Data for Southeast Grantmakers

Author: Stephen Sherman


One of our most popular member benefits – regional salary data for foundation staff and CEOs – has just been updated on!

Each year, SECF partners with the Council on Foundations (COF) to produce salary benchmarking reports for foundation staff and CEOs in the Southeast. These reports include the average, median, minimum and maximum salaries for a range of 36 staff positions at all levels in foundations based in the 11 Southeast states. Salary tables are organized by both grantmaker type and asset size to provide quick access to comparable data for foundations of all shapes and sizes.

You can view this data now under the For Members section of our website – or access the information directly here ( login required).

Salary information for 2021 is drawn from data on nearly 10,000 full-time paid staff at over 900 organizations across the United States. The South region accounted for 27 percent of all respondents.

Thank you to all SECF member organizations that responded to the 2021 Grantmaker Salary and Benefits Survey earlier this year, providing the valuable benchmarking data that informs these reports.

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Public Policy Update - October 2021

Tags: Kentucky 
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


Wrangling Continues Over Reconciliation, Infrastructure Bills

Democrats in the House and Senate are continuing to negotiate a path forward on two bills that form the bulk of President Biden’s domestic agenda: a $1 billion bill to invest in roads, bridges and other infrastructure, as well as a larger package addressing a range of issues including education, health care and climate change.

The exact size and scope of the second bill remains the key sticking point. The White House and Democratic leaders in Congress had proposed a $3.5 trillion package, but key moderates in both chambers have called for that number to come down. While negotiations are fluid, the latest reporting indicates a $2 trillion measure is more likely at this point. The bill is being considered through the reconciliation process, which prevents Senate Republicans from filibustering the legislation but also requires almost total unity from Democrats, who have slim majorities in both chambers – including no votes to spare in the Senate.

Progressives in Congress have balked at holding a vote on the infrastructure bill until they have assurances the larger bill will pass. Meanwhile, moderates have insisted the infrastructure bill, which already passed the Senate with bipartisan support, should get a vote without preconditions.


Kentucky Rep. Yarmuth Announces Retirement

Rep. John Yarmuth (D-KY), who represents the Louisville area in the House, announced today he would not seek re-election. The decision will deprive the region of an influential voice in Congress – Yarmuth currently serves as chairman of the powerful House Budget Committee.

Yarmuth is the fifth House Democrat to announce his retirement, along with five others who have announced runs for another office.

While Yarmuth’s own district has a strong Democratic lean, his retirement while holding such a powerful post may indicate pessimism about his party’s chances of holding control of the House following the 2022 elections.

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Submit Your Nominee for the 2021 Truist Promise Award

Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations


This year’s Annual Meeting will include the second presentation of the Truist Promise Award recognizing innovative philanthropy in the Southeast! Last year, this prestigious honor honored work done by two SECF members: the Charlottesville Area Community Foundation and the Coastal Community Foundation of South Carolina.

Nominations for this year’s Truist Promise Award are now open. The award recognizes 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.

The Truist Promise Award recognizes work that focuses on significant and systemic issues facing the region and the country today. In addition, 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 15. Click here to submit your nominee!

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Announcing the 2021-22 Class of Hull Fellows!

Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations



SECF is excited to announce the 22 members of the 2021-22 class of Hull Fellows, the region’s premier philanthropic leadership development program. The new class joins a community that includes more than 300 Hull graduates, many of whom now serve as CEOs and senior executives at their foundations.

This year’s class will begin their Hull Fellows experience with a kickoff at this year’s Annual Meeting in Asheville, followed by webinars and a spring retreat. This will culminate with the presentation of capstone projects at the 2022 Annual Meeting.

In the months ahead, we will profile each member of this year's class on our blog and in our weekly Connect newsletter so you can get to know them better.

If you know any members of this year’s class, reach out to them and congratulate them!


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Annual Meeting Speaker Highlight: Chandra Taylor

Category: Annual Meeting, 
Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations


The intersection between racial equity and climate change has become increasingly clear as marginalized populations, particularly people of color, disproportionately suffer the effects of extreme weather – these groups are also underrepresented among leading environmental groups, depriving them of a seat at the table and input on possible solutions.

There are leaders within the region seeking to change this dynamic, however. One of them is Chandra Taylor, senior attorney and leader of the Southern Environmental Law Center’s Environmental Justice Initiative. She will be one of several speakers at “Invisible Fences: Racial Equity and the Environment,” a breakout session taking place at this year’s Annual Meeting.

Taylor’s leadership was recently recognized by the North Carolina Wildlife Federation, which named her its Water Conservationist of the Year.

“Working at the intersection of civil rights and environmental protection, Taylor forced cleanups at contaminated industrial sites at Yadkin River and Badin Lake, stopped water pollution threatening North Carolina communities, and helped shape transit and landfill policies,” the federation said in announcing the award.

Taylor, who grew up in Kinston, North Carolina – one of many in the region devastated by the decline of the textile industry – says her personal experience has had a direct impact on her professional life.

“I was very specific about wanting to do work representing communities of color and low-wealth communities and I’m going to do it in the State of North Carolina because this is the place that I love,” she says. “Social justice is important to me because I saw people who worked really hard but still did not always make ends meet.”

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Annual Meeting Speaker Highlight: Takema Robinson

Tags: Louisiana 
Category: Annual Meeting, 
Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations


The expression “the more things change, the more they stay the same” could easily be applied to New Orleans, where despite the wake-up call and crisis sparked by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the city still suffers from troubling inequities the storm highlighted.

That pattern isn’t unique to New Orleans – across the region and the country, responses to crises often result in a return to the status quo without addressing whether that status quo was desirable in the first place.

Takema Robinson, executive director of the Greater New Orleans Funders Network (GNOFN) and CEO of her own consulting firm, knows this reality well.

“Following Hurricane Katrina, we witnessed $1 billion pour into our city during the recovery, and while much good work took place, we missed the opportunity to create long-term structural change,” she wrote recently on GNOFN’s website.

A similar situation is now unfolding with the COVID-19 pandemic, Robinson says, joining others who have rejected calls to “return to normal” and instead use crisis as a chance to invoke overdue change. She believes that philanthropy, specifically, must not let this opportunity pass it by.

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Public Policy Update - September 2021

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


Work Continues on $3.5 Trillion “Social Infrastructure” Bill

The $3.5 trillion tax and spending package that forms the centerpiece of President Biden’s domestic agenda is now making its way through the legislative process in the House and Senate.

In the House, the Ways and Means Committee is crafting its part of the bill this week. Democrats suffered a setback today in the Energy and Commerce Committee, where three moderates in the party voted down a plan to allow the Department of Health and Human Services to negotiate lower drug prices for Medicare recipients.

That proposal – long a priority of Democratic leaders – provides a crucial part of the financing for the overall legislation. While it can be added back in, its defeat here reflects the unease some moderates in the party have with the legislation.

Senate Democrats are expected to release their own detailed version of the legislation this week. Over the weekend, moderate Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) indicated he remains opposed to the $3.5 trillion price tag that Biden and Democratic leaders in Congress have set for the bill.

The overall package still has to go through many steps and there are expected to be significant differences between the versions passed by the House and the Senate. We will continue monitoring the legislative package, which aims to address many areas of concern to grantmakers.


Hurricane Ida, Flooding Relief Likely to Be Part of Stopgap Spending Bill

The fiscal year ends on September 30 and with none of the regular spending bills passed into law, Congress will have to pass what’s known as a continuing resolution to prevent a government shutdown on October 1.

The resolution would keep the government running at existing funding levels. However, it will also likely include new spending to address immediate issues, including disaster relief for areas damaged by Hurricane Ida, flooding in central Tennessee and other natural disasters.


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Annual Meeting Speaker Highlight: Lexi Paza

Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations


Nonprofits need a lot of things to run effectively, some of which are easy to take for granted – like space.

Even during a time when working from home has become far more common, nonprofits that are active in their communities still need a way to bring people – staff, board members, partners, the people they serve, and more – into a shared space.

Often, however, that can be in short supply. Small towns don’t have enough, and in big cities, it’s too expensive to rent or own. That’s where nonprofit centers come into play.

These spaces provide a place multiple nonprofits in a community can use when needed. Several already exist throughout the Southeast – examples include The Spartanburg County Foundation’s Robert Hett Chapman III Center for Philanthropy and the PATH Foundation’s Resource Center.

Foundations, however, aren’t usually in the real estate business. Thankfully, The Nonprofit Centers Network, based in Denver, has established itself as a thought leader in what it calls “social purpose real estate.”

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Philanthropy Responds to Hurricane Ida

Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations


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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Update on Annual Meeting COVID Protocols

Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations


This information was updated on August 26, 2021. Further updates will be posted here as needed.

Throughout our planning for SECF's 52nd Annual Meeting, we have been keeping a close eye on the state of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Delta variant has driven a significant spike in cases, hospitalizations and deaths, particularly in the South.

We are still planning to host our in-person meeting in Asheville but are making some changes to our meeting policies to protect the health and safety of our attendees and reflect the current state of the pandemic and the latest public health guidance.

First, we are changing our cancellation policy to allow attendees to cancel and receive a full refund, minus a $50 administrative fee, by October 1 -- a month later than normal. The state of the pandemic is changing constantly and rapidly. Pushing back our cancelation deadline gives attendees the ability to make an informed decision with a better idea of what the state of the pandemic will be in November.

Second, we will now require all Annual Meeting registrants to present either proof of full vaccination or a negative COVID test from the past 48 hours before attending any Annual Meeting functions. Speakers and staff will also be subject to this requirement. We are currently exploring several options for verifying this information on-site. Anyone who cannot present this information will be directed to testing options.

We want to encourage you to receive a COVID vaccination if you have not already. Vaccines are proven to be safe and incredibly effective at preventing severe cases. They remain the best tool we have for bringing this pandemic to an end.

We are continuing to assess all aspects of the Annual Meeting to ensure it is as safe as possible while providing an enjoyable, informative and inspiring experience. We will continue to provide updates as the meeting draws closer. In the meantime, we appreciate your continued support, understanding and flexibility.

The SECF staff is also available to help answer any questions you may have. You can call us at (404) 524-0911 or email Dena Chadwick, SECF's chief operating officer, at

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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.

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

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.