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.

51st Annual Meeting Speaker Highlight: Dr. David Williams

Category: Annual Meeting, 
Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations


This is the first in a series of profiles of speakers at SECF's 51st Annual Meeting, an online event taking place November 11-13. Registration opens next week!

The two dominant stories of 2020 – the COVID-19 pandemic and a national reckoning on racial justice sparked by the murder of George Floyd – will both be reflected throughout the 51st Annual Meeting, from the virtual keynote stage to several breakout sessions.

Both topics, and the intersection between them, are familiar to this year’s Opening Keynote speaker, Dr. David Williams.

Williams, a professor of public health and chair of the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health, is one of the world’s leading experts on the social determinants of health, a list that includes socioeconomic status, race, stress, racism, health behavior and religious involvement. 

Through his research, Williams has found that experiencing racism itself leads to negative health consequences – for example, Blacks with college degrees have a lower life expectancy than whites who only have a high school diploma.

“When I started my career, many people believed that it was simply about racial differences in income and education,” Williams said in his TedMed talk, How Racism Makes Us Sick. “I discovered that while economic status matters to health, there is more to the story.”

Central to Williams’ research has been his work to quantify racism – not only major experiences like unfairly losing a job or being wrongly stopped by the police, but also everyday indignities that, over time, have real health consequences. The Everyday Discrimination Scale he devised in 1997 to measure experiences like these is still used today.

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New Titles Available at SECF's Lending Library!

Category: Member Benefits, 
Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations


SECF’s Lending Library allows SECF members 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 recently added several new titles focused on systemic racism and other topics. We’ve highlighted a few below, and a list of all new titles is at the end of this post.

Visit our Lending Library information page to learn more and to sign up for an account!


How to Be an Antiracist
By Ibram X. Kendi

Antiracism is a transformative concept that reorients and reenergizes the conversation about racism—and, even more fundamentally, points us toward liberating new ways of thinking about ourselves and each other. At it's core, racism is a powerful system that creates false hierarchies of human value; its warped logic extends beyond race, from the way we regard people of different ethnicities or skin colors to the way we treat people of different sexes, gender identities, and body types. Racism intersects with class and culture and geography and even changes the way we see and value ourselves. In How to Be an Antiracist, Kendi takes readers through a widening circle of antiracist ideas—from the most basic concepts to visionary possibilites—that will help readers see all forms of racism clearly, understand their posionous consequences, and work to oppose them in our systems and in ourselves.

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Taking an Objective Look at Homelessness in Florida

Category: Research & Data, 
Author: Katie Ensign and Kathleen Shaw


The issues surrounding homelessness, and what we as funders need to consider, were brought into sharp relief this week with the release of Snapshot: A High-Level Review of the Regional Approach to Homelessness in Jacksonville, FL

This report, commissioned by a collaboration of funders including the Jessie Ball duPont Fund, The Community Foundation for Northeast Florida, the United Way of Northeast Florida, and the Henri Landwirth Family Advised Fund, outlined the progress made and the opportunities ahead for supporting Jacksonville’s homeless population. 

We learned that while Jacksonville has experienced a 32 percent decrease in the overall homeless population (compared to the national reduction average of 10 percent during the same period), there are notable areas for improvement, including a troubling 20 percent increase in unsheltered, single adults in Jacksonville.

Jacksonville is a very collaborative community and, as funders, we have a strong history of working together to address community issues. We were each supporting homelessness with our own grantmaking, and even serving on some of the same community committees – and we have seen some progress in our community with specific populations such as veterans and homeless families. But, as we thought collectively with one another and the providers in our community about the best approach to deepening our commitment to support this area, we weren’t convinced we had the right information to make the best decisions regarding a more comprehensive plan to move forward. 

There were conflicting opinions regarding a best practice approach, and we wanted to understand more about positive outcomes in other communities. So, we decided to engage an outside, objective expert to help us review our work and provide advice on the best approach moving forward. 

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Public Policy Update - July 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

Bills to Expand Charitable Giving Introduced in House and Senate

Two Southeastern lawmakers are among the lead sponsors of bipartisan, bicameral proposals to expand the temporary universal charitable deduction put into law earlier this year.

In the Senate, Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) is a lead sponsor of the Universal Giving Pandemic Response Act (S. 4032), which would expand the temporary $300 universal charitable deduction included in the CARES Act to one-third of the standard deduction, or roughly $4,000 for individuals and $8,000 for joint filers. The increased deduction would be available for tax years 2019 and 2020. Rep. Mark Walker (R-NC) has partnered with Rep. Chris Pappas (D-NH) to introduce an identical version of this legislation in the House.

The lead sponsors on the bill have indicated they are trying to get the expansion included in the next COVID relief package, which is expected in late July. The Senate Finance Committee is also considering expanding the universal charitable deduction in the next package, but committee members are also interested in adding compliance provisions to reduce the cost to the federal government and avoid fraud.

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Episode 2 of The Bridge Now Available for Listening!

Category: The Bridge, 


Episode 2 of The Bridge, SECF's podcast, is now available on all major podcast platforms!

This marks the first episode of The Bridge since both the COVID-19 pandemic and nationwide calls for racial equity and justice in the wake of the murder of George Floyd. SECF President & CEO Janine Lee leads a conversation addressing both these topics, talking with Cory Anderson, chief innovation officer at the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation in Little Rock, Arkansas, and Robert Dortch, vice president of program and community innovation at the Robins Foundation in Richmond, Virginia.

Each episode of The Bridge shares stories of the ways foundations are bringing together people in their communities to spark dialogue and lasting change. This new offering is one of the first initiatives to come as a result of our Equity Framework.

The Bridge can be streamed below and is also available on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts and other podcast providers! (Using another podcast app? Copy this link to add The Bridge to your subscriptions.) We expect to release at least one more episode of The Bridge this year – if you'd like to suggest a topic or person to interview, please contact David Miller, director of marketing and communications, at

We hope you enjoy listening!

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Responding to COVID-19 in... Appalachian Kentucky

Category: Coronavirus, 
Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations


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

While the COVID-19 pandemic first took root in densely-populated cities, it has since found its way to rural communities – a shift that has contributed to rising hospitalization levels in Arkansas, North Carolina, South Carolina and Kentucky over the last two weeks.

Communities in eastern Kentucky, the hilly region once dominated by the coal mining industry, were already in a precarious state before the pandemic. Residents there have long experienced higher rates of cancer, diabetes, obesity, opioid addiction and pulmonary diseases, particularly Black Lung disease. The collapse of the mining industry brought with it widespread poverty and greatly reduced access to health care.

“Throughout central Appalachia, COVID is acting in a familiar pattern, one that we see in so many Southern places – effecting people who are already marginalized and living with health disparities at a greater rate,” said Gerry Roll, executive director of the Foundation for Appalachian Kentucky. “This in a region that has a rural healthcare system that we know is under-resourced and could be overwhelmed in the coming months.”

The pandemic’s arrival amid a massive economic shift has put incredible stress on the small towns that dot the region, Roll said, including nonprofit organizations.

“Small business and entrepreneurship have been major drivers for this economic transition, and we are concerned that our entrepreneurial sector may not be able to recover,” she said. “Nonprofits in our region are struggling just like they are across the country. The difference here, again like most rural and marginalized communities, is there are far fewer places to turn for support.”

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Get on the Map: Help Us Share the Story of Philanthropy's Role in COVID-19 Response and Recovery

Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations


As part of the Get on the Map campaign, SECF is partnering with Candid to help track philanthropy’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. Candid has created a pop-up page,, which is updated daily with the latest information on philanthropic efforts to aid global response and recovery. The page includes the latest figures on foundation grantmaking to address the pandemic, a listing of funding opportunities, and news items on philanthropy’s efforts. 

Candid has also created a custom map that allows users to explore COVID-19-related funding at the state, county and local levels. You can see which foundations are giving in the Southeast region, where grantmaking is concentrated most, and what gaps might still exist in funding.  


If your foundation is funding organizations or initiatives as part of the response to the current crisis, please share information on this grantmaking with Candid. You can follow the instructions on this page, or simply email your grants data to For those who have never shared grants data before, Candid recommends using the “Simplified Template” available 

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A Call to Action for Southern Philanthropy

Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations


“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.

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Responding to COVID-19 in... St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands

Category: Coronavirus, 
Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations


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

On the island of St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands, the first week of June also marks the start of a time of high alert: the Atlantic hurricane season.

This year, of course, has already been marked by crisis. The COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t hit the island as hard as the mainland United States, but its economic impacts are impossible to ignore in a place with an economy largely dependent on tourism and hospitality. Cruise ships, normally a regular presence at the island’s ports, have been shuttered for months. The local airport only receives one flight a day.

While there have been real consequences from the pandemic, resilience has been the defining feature of St. Croix’s pandemic experience, said Deanna James, president of the St. Croix Foundation for Community Development.

“For all intents and purposes, we live in a village. There are different human dynamics that happen in a village,” she said. “Basic needs are met in a much more different way than if you lived in an apartment in New York City and didn’t know anyone around you.

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Public Policy Update - June 2020

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


Pandemic Response Legislation

Congress Weighing Changes to Paycheck Protection Program: In the wake of the House nearly unanimously passing a bill that would provide more flexibility for businesses and nonprofit organizations taking Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans, Senate Republicans have voiced concerns. However, there is still a strong possibility of changes ultimately becoming law.

On May 28, the House, by a 417-1 vote, passed the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act. The bill would extend the loan forgiveness window to 24 weeks, up from 8 weeks. The measure would also give recipients more flexibility in how they can use the loans by changing the so-called 75/25 rule. The new rule would require only 60 percent of the loan to go toward payroll to still qualify for forgiveness, down from the current 75 percent threshold. This legislation would also allow loan recipients to defer payroll taxes for a longer period of time.

Senate Small Business Committee Chairman Marco Rubio (R-FL) says there are technical errors in the House bill that could make it more difficult for recipients to get their loans forgiven, making it unlikely the Senate passes the House bill unchanged. The Senate is expected to move forward with its own set of changes to PPP, possibly extending the forgiveness window to 16 weeks.

Changes to PPP may also be folded into the so-called RESTART Act, which has been proposed by Sens. Todd Young (R-IN) and Michael Bennet (D-CO). This measure would extend the PPP loan forgiveness window to 16 weeks for businesses that have seen their revenues decline at least 25 percent during the original 8-week window. 

The bill would also create a new loan program to serve businesses and nonprofits with fewer than 5,000 employees. These loans – capped at $10 million – would be available to 501(c)(3) organizations and several other types of tax-exempt organizations. The loans would cover payroll, benefits and fixed operating expenses for recipients that have experienced significant revenue losses during the pandemic. Loan recipients with fewer than 500 employees would have an opportunity to have their loans forgiven, while nonprofit employers with more than 500 employees would receive more favorable loan terms without forgiveness.

A detailed summary of the RESTART Act with loan and repayment examples can be found here.

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