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.

Public Policy Update - April 2021

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


Southern Philanthropy Well Represented at Foundations on the Hill 

Last month, SECF members turned out in force to bring one of the country’s largest delegations to Foundations on the Hill. Foundations from the region were well represented in several program sessions while organizing dozens of virtual visits with congressional leaders and staff.

Several SECF members participated in a session, Foundation Examples: Embedding Equity in Public Policy Work – the United Philanthropy Forum has made the recording of this session available to all SECF members! Please watch the discussion and feel free to share with your peers. Thank you to Darrin Goss, Sr., of the Coastal Community Foundation, Chynna Phillips of the Sisters of Charity Foundation of South Carolina and the Southern Education Foundation’s Kenita Williams for their leadership and voice on this issue! 

If you participated in FOTH this year, you will have access to recordings of each session and speech via SwapCard through December 31, 2021. If you did not attend, you can still view all FOTH programming through our friends at the United Philanthropy Forum, which is providing access to the platform at a post-conference rate of $79.


Biden Infrastructure Package Includes Some Funder Priorities, Leaves Out Taxes on Wealth or Endowments

Last week, President Biden released an outline of an ambitious $2 trillion infrastructure package. While coverage of the bill has focused largely on funding for roads, bridges, electrical grids and water systems, it also includes investments in several areas of interest to grantmakers.

Biden has proposed spending $100 billion to improve access to broadband and address the “digital divide” that affects underserved populations in both urban and rural areas. The proposal would also dedicate $213 billion to affordable and sustainable housing, $137 billion for early learning, K-12 public schools and community colleges, as well as $400 billion directed at home and community-based care for elderly and disabled people.

The legislation’s cost, so far, would be covered by tax increases on corporations and income of high-earners, as well as other measures. The White House is not seeking to incorporate a wealth tax like that proposed by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), which would tax households with a net worth above $50 million. The proposal would not affect charitable trusts or endowments.

Work on Biden’s infrastructure plan has only just started – Congress is in recess this week, though House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has signaled she would like to have a bill passed by July 4. Republican response to the proposal makes it likely the plan will be moved through the Senate via the same reconciliation process used for COVID relief legislation earlier this year.

We will continue to monitor negotiations on the package for any developments that may affect funder priorities or tax policy governing foundations.


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SECF Members on Embedding Racial Equity in Public Policy Work

Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations


Last month, attendees at this year’s Foundations on the Hill had the opportunity to hear from three SECF leaders on how they can incorporate racial equity into their public policy work. Today, we’re excited to offer all our members the opportunity to view this informative and powerful session!

The session included insights from Darrin Goss, Sr., president and CEO of the Coastal Community Foundation of South Carolina, Chynna Phillips, research and policy director for the Sisters of Charity Foundation of South Carolina, and Kenita Williams, chief of staff and director of leadership development for the Southern Education Foundation.

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Share Your Grants Data to Show Philanthropy’s Response to 2020

Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations


As a partner on the Get on the Map campaign, SECF works with Candid to promote data sharing in the philanthropic sector. Last month, Candid launched its annual data collection campaign, and we invite our members to join this effort by sharing grants data through Candid’s eReporting program.

By joining the eReporting campaign, your organization will help inform resources like SECF’s Southern Trends Report and interactive tools like Candid’s Foundation Maps. These resources are used daily by your peers to assess gaps in funding, seek out potential partners, and determine where and how to target their investments. 

Your participation is also critical to ensuring that researchers, sector leaders, policymakers, and others have a clear picture of Southern philanthropy’s response to events in 2020. Last year, Candid launched two new data portals tracking philanthropy’s efforts in responding to COVID-19 and grantmaking to promote racial equity, both of which rely heavily on data shared directly by funders. Candid’s data is also regularly cited in research in the field, including recent reports from the Center for Disaster Philanthropy, the Schott Foundation for Public Education, and Media Impact Funders. We need your help to provide the most current and accurate data on foundation grantmaking for resources like these. 

If your organization is already an eReporting partner, thank you! You should have received instructions from Candid for reporting FY20 and FY21 data. Please remember to share your data by June 30, 2021

If your organization is new to eReporting, it’s easy to share your grants data. You can follow the instructions on this page, or simply email your grants data to For those who have never shared grants data before, we recommend using the “Simplified Template” available here. If you have questions, please feel free to email

As an added benefit, organizations that participate in eReporting receive an interactive map that visualizes their foundation’s grantmaking (see a sample here). Grants data is also incorporated into our regional giving map, available exclusively to SECF members. 

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Member Highlight: Upendo Shabazz

Category: Member Highlight, 
Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations


One year ago, Upendo Shabazz was in a role that suited her extroverted nature: As leader of Allegany Franciscan Ministries’ Common Good Initiative, she got to work in the community with individuals and organizations in three underserved Florida communities.

The COVID-19 pandemic upended all that – being out in the community, at least physically, was no longer an option. But that’s when she discovered her pandemic mantra: “TRUST THE WORK.”

“This saying has shaped my entire scope of work this past year,” she said. “I work in community on the ground with residents, stakeholders, government and philanthropy. When the pandemic began, I had to ‘trust’ that everything we set in motion through the Common Good Initiative would continue. I had to let go of the power and allow the power of community that we had invested in to cultivate.”

It turned out that multi-year investment paid off – the Common Good Initiative had helped build relationships and capacity that allowed organizations to respond to the pandemic in ways they might not have before, helping local businesses secure federal loans and ensuring connections developed with business and faith groups persisted despite the need for physical distancing.

The Initiative is shaping up to be a Passing Gear philanthropy success story, an example of how foundations can use multiple forms of capital to achieve a greater impact than through grantmaking alone. That work is one reason why Upendo was a natural choice to lead a module at SECF’s recent Philanthropy Essentials program called Maximizing Impact with Large-Scale Strategies.

“Traditional grantmaking will always be a strategy to addressing basic needs and will continue to be a measure for charity,” Upendo said. However, large-scale strategies often involve listening, learning and leading – convening – and development of an ideal that represents the ‘solution.’ This type of approach becomes less about activity and more about building relationships that become vested in a collective outcome.”

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2021 Grantmaker Salary and Benefits Survey is Now Open!

Category: Research & Data, 
Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations


The 2021 Grantmaker Salary and Benefits Survey is now open for responses. Since 1980, the annual Grantmaker Salary and Benefits (GSB) Survey has provided the philanthropic sector with the most comprehensive data on foundation staff and board compensation. Grantmakers across the country rely on the survey findings to inform budgeting, talent recruitment and retention strategies. 

Your participation in the GSB survey is needed – the greater the participation, the greater the insights for the sector and for your fellow SECF members. Through a partnership with the Council on Foundations (COF), SECF provides custom salary tables for Southeast grantmakers each fall. 

What’s the benefit for participating organizations?

All survey participants (both COF members and non-members) will receive a copy of the full GSB report (a $499 value) and access to COF’s benchmarking platform to create custom salary reports. Reports and data are expected to be released in September 2021.

How to Participate:

  • Visit the COF website to learn more about how to participate and for detailed instructions. 
  • See this page for answers to frequently asked questions as well as a list of documents you’ll need to complete the survey.

The deadline to complete the GSB Survey is May 10, 2021.

Thank you in advance for your participation!

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Our Response to Anti-Asian Violence

Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations


We are deeply saddened and disturbed by yesterday’s shootings in Atlanta that left eight dead, including six Asian American women. These horrific incidents are only the latest in a national wave of violence targeting people of Asian descent. We strongly condemn these actions, as well as the use of racist rhetoric against Asian people that has stoked the flames of hatred and put lives and safety at risk.

We stand with our friends at Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy (AAPIP) who are working to raise awareness of the issues facing the Asian American/Pacific Islander community and the nonprofit organizations that support them. AAPIP has also responded to yesterday’s violence and has prepared a resource guide for grantmakers looking to do more in their own communities – these actions can help support those in need and further the essential work of building a society free of racial violence.

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Public Policy Update - March 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


Join Us Next Week at Virtual Foundations on the Hill!

Foundations on the Hill (FOTH) is only one week away, but this year’s event is all-virtual – that means you still have time to sign up and connect with lawmakers in Washington!

FOTH 2021 will take place on six days spread over two weeks (March 16-18 and 23-25). Along with the opportunity to connect with policymakers, you’ll also be able to access a full agenda of sessions and speakers, including a closing keynote from PolicyLink’s Michael McAfee!

If you’ve never attended FOTH before, this is definitely the year to take the plunge. You’ll be able to fully participate from your home or office while enjoying the full support of veteran state captains and the SECF staff! FOTH is also a tremendous value – you can sign up now for only $99

You can learn more about this year’s Foundations on the Hill by viewing our webinars from February 17 and March 2. If you’re ready to sign up, registration is open now at!


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Remembering Bob Hull (1932-2021)

Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations


The SECF family lost one of its most influential members last month with the passing of Bob Hull, who served as our president and CEO from 1978 until 1997 and inspired the creation of the Hull Fellows leadership development program. He was 88 years old.

“Under Bob’s leadership, SECF went from a young membership association still finding its way to a recognized leader within our region and the American philanthropic landscape,” current president and CEO Janine Lee said. “He became a valuable mentor to me and countless others in Southern philanthropy – that legacy of mentorship will live on for years to come through the Hull Fellows program, which recently celebrated 20 years of leadership development.”

SECF President & CEO Janine Lee shares the stage at the 50th Annual Meeting with her predecessors (left to right) Martin Lehfeldt, Bob Hull and Pete McTier.


Even though Hull retired nearly 25 years ago, he continued to be a regular presence at SECF events and programs until the present day. He and his wife, Shannon, were a regular presence at the Annual Meeting as SECF’s honored guests. His last Annual Meeting would be the 50th Anniversary celebration in Atlanta, which he helped plan as a member of the 50th Anniversary Task Force.

He also played an active role in the Hull Fellows program that bears his name. In recent years, he spoke to each class, both in-person and via webinar, to share his wit and wisdom with the next generation of philanthropic leaders. 

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Member Highlight: Chynna Phillips

Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations


Foundations on the Hill is a can’t-miss event for Chynna Phillips, research and policy director of the Sisters of Charity Foundation of South Carolina and a self-described policy nerd.

Like other veterans of Foundations on the Hill (FOTH), Chynna is disappointed she won’t be able to travel to Washington, D.C., for this year’s event, which kicks off March 16. But she sees some advantages to virtual advocacy.

“We have the opportunity to show our commitment,” she said during February’s Public Policy 101 webinar. “We’re not saying, ‘OK, because of COVID we’ll just see you next year.’”

Instead, Chynna and the rest of the South Carolina will be connecting with lawmakers and key staff members, letting them know about the vital work of philanthropy in the Palmetto State over the past year, reminding them of the sector’s priorities and building relationships that can pay dividends in the years ahead.

During the February webinar, Chynna noted that a meeting with Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-SC), a member of the Democratic House leadership, convened by the foundation, the SC Grantmakers Network and Together SC, helped ensure the charitable sector was on the minds of lawmakers when shaping COVID relief legislation in the early days of the pandemic.

“We had 400 nonprofits on a call with congressman Clyburn and he was able to say, ‘I remember when you came up,’” Chynna recalled. “Later on, he was on the floor, and he talked about that meeting. If it wasn't for FOTH making us comfortable in those spaces, I'm not sure how that would have went.”

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2020 Annual Report: Tested, Resilient and Ready

Category: Announcements, 
Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations


2020 was a year that tested us like never before.

Our homes became our offices… and some of our home offices became classrooms.

We sheltered in place… but turned out to vote in record numbers.

We covered our faces… but raised our voices to fight for racial justice.

In philanthropy, we experienced moments of doubt, disbelief and pain – but also moments of determination, inspiration and innovation.

At SECF, we learned a lot – about the power of philanthropy, about the dedication of SECF members to their communities and about our own ability to adapt, grow and meet the needs of this unique moment.

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