Statement on This Weekend’s Events in Charlottesville

"No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin or his background or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite." — Nelson Mandela

We are deeply troubled and saddened by this weekend’s events in Charlottesville, Virginia. We mourn the loss of life – Heather Heyer, 32, the woman protesting against hatred and bigotry who was killed by a man driving a car into the crowd, and two Virginia State Police officers, Lt. H. Jay Cullen, 48, and Trooper-Pilot Berke M.M. Bates, 40, who died in a tragic helicopter accident while on duty assisting in Charlottesville. At least 35 other people have been injured. We offer our deepest condolences, as well as our thoughts and prayers, to the families and loved ones of all of the victims.

We strongly condemn the hateful ideology that led to this weekend’s events. White supremacy, extremism of any kind, and domestic terrorism have no place in our society. We will continue to oppose it and will not give it cover, oxygen nor respectability. The Southeastern Council of Foundations supports efforts that unite people of all backgrounds, races, gender, and identity through dialogue, love of humankind, cooperation and understanding around shared values. SECF stands ready to support our members in the Commonwealth who, in the weeks and months ahead, may be called upon to help the community heal.

Meet the 2017-18 Class of Hull Fellows

Developing the next generation of leaders in Southern Philanthropy is central to SECF’s mission. At the heart of this work is our Hull Fellows Program, which has graduated more than 300 people – many of whom are now CEOs, senior executives and engaged trustees at their organizations.

Today, we’re excited to announce the next group of men and women who will enter into this transformative program. The 2017-18 class of Hull Fellows represents the full diversity of SECF’s membership. The 24 fellows shown below will soon begin a year-long program that will explore the latest trends and best practices in the field, the history of the South and its philanthropic development and the major issues facing foundations today.

As with any SECF program, connections are central to the Hull Fellows experience. Each Fellow will be paired with an experienced mentor that will serve as a source of knowledge and wisdom, offering their own insights on how to lead in the world of philanthropy. The class will also develop long-lasting relationships among themselves, resulting in a peer network that will benefit them for the rest of their careers. 

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Foundation Leaders Offer Ideas for Charitable Expansion – and Washington is Listening

Last week, several foundation leaders were not dissuaded by nearly 100 degree temperatures and high humidity as they set out to meet with key legislators and tax staffers to make the case for expanding the charitable deduction for all Americans.

Reps. Tom Reed (R-NY), Cathy McMorris Rogers (R-WA), House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX), and tax staff from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) office listened intently, encouraged open discussion and welcomed our input and advice.

In fact, we were so buoyed by the reception to our ideas and their willingness to engage that we were perfectly primed for a highly-anticipated session with Vice President Pence, the final meeting of the day. Even if we had scripted it ourselves, it wouldn’t have been as significant or momentous as it was.

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Help Put Southern Philanthropy – and Your Foundation – On the Map

In 2016, SECF teamed up with Foundation Center to release the Southern Trends Report – a comprehensive look at giving in our region. This year, we’re working to update the Southern Trends Report with new data on giving by Southeastern foundations.

Like any report, it’s only as good as the data that goes into it – and that’s why we’re encouraging all SECF members to Get on the Map by joining the eReporting program with Foundation Center. Grants data that is submitted through eReporting is fed into the Foundation Maps platform, which is the driving force behind such interactive sites as,, and our very own Southern Trends Report. 

The more foundations we have participating in eReporting, the more reliable our sample becomes and the more confident we can be in drawing conclusions or predicting trends from the data.

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Three Lessons Learned at Community Foundation Boot Camp

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:

Lesson 1 – Boot Camp really means Boot Camp

Like any good survey course you might take in college, this training really took our cohort through a substantial amount of content while emphasizing only the key things we needed to know. From a syllabus perspective, our units spanned governance, investments and everything in between. The fast-paced nature of the training kept us engaged and on our toes and truly maximized our two days together.

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Endowments and Foundations in a Low Interest Rate Environment

In December 2016 and January 2017, Associated Grant Makers (the regional association of foundations and grantmaking organizations in Massachusetts) partnered with Fiduciary Trust on a survey to research how foundations, endowments and other nonprofits have been affected by the low interest rate environment.

The results of this survey are now out. On June 19, my colleagues from Fiduciary Trust – Joel Mittelman (Vice President, Endowments and Foundations) and Stacy Mullaney (Vice President & Chief Fiduciary Officer) – joined me in presenting findings from the survey which received 236 responses from nonprofit organizations including corporate, family, public and private foundations as well as other nonprofits from across the U.S. From the results, we shared insights on recommended best practices covering areas of fundraising, investing, grantmaking, spending and board governance. 

Looking back over the last 50 years, we have been in an unprecedented extended period of low interest rates. Given that we cannot change the circumstances, there are smart, informed ways to move forward – finding strategic approaches to operating in this environment. Particularly for trustees and others reliant on volunteers, sharing best practices and providing informed, professional perspectives can help you be more strategic in your work. Also in this particularly challenging time of low interest rates, there is an even smaller margin for error.

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Download Southern Trends Report Data With a Single Click

We’re excited to let you know about a recent upgrade to our Southern Trends Report. Users now have the ability to download the data behind each of the tables, charts and lists featured on the site. You might use the data to create your own charts and graphs, compare figures for different states, or format lists of top funders to share with your board.

This function is also context-sensitive, meaning that if you change one of the parameters on an interactive chart, the data included in the download for that page will reflect your modifications.

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Celebrating 70 Years of Fostering Change

This month, the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust celebrates 70 years of investing in community well-being and improving North Carolinians’ health and quality of life. At the same time, I celebrate my one-year anniversary at the Trust.

During this past year, I have learned so much about the people and organizations the Trust has helped since it began in 1947 – from its first grant to a Forsyth County home visiting program for new moms to our recent investment ensuring every baby born in Forsyth County receives a home visit from a nurse.

The Trust truly has come full circle.

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Mourning the loss of a truly exceptional leader

Have you ever had one of those moments where the sky seems less bright, the hill gets suddenly steeper and energy appears to decline as if there is less oxygen to breathe? I felt that way when I got an email June 13 telling me that Laurie Moran had passed away.

I know I was not alone in that feeling of loss. Many of us knew that Laurie had been fighting cancer for some time. She did not hide her illness, nor did she use it as a way of asking for sympathy. Laurie faced cancer the way she faced many things, head on without making a big deal out of it.

And she seemed to be beating it. I watched her come back from earlier rounds of treatment and we all hoped her progress would continue.

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CEO Forum Provides Chance to Discuss Challenges of Leadership – and Solutions

The benefits of association are – according to much of the literature on foundation philanthropy – among the most powerful tools for learning and professional development in the field. Interaction with colleagues offers valuable opportunities for building networks that are useful over the long term. SECF’s recent CEO Forum, held last week in Charleston, South Carolina, was no exception.

More than 40 foundation chief executives gathered over two days to study, reflect and share their experiences and thoughts on the future of philanthropy in the United States. Phil Buchanan, president of the Center for Effective Philanthropy, discussed the findings of one of the Center’s recent research projects, The Future of Foundation Philanthropy: The CEO Perspective. The survey data, collected from foundation leaders across the country, provided the perfect backdrop for helping us think about our own effectiveness.

Among the findings were a perception that we could be doing more than we are, that our impact could be greater and that we have control over our perceived barriers. The personal reflections of national foundation leaders contained in the report reminded us that we are not alone in our challenges and opportunities for growth and impact. Our colleagues share many of the same challenges, though our roles in our communities vary widely. Some of us are seasoned and some are new to the role and to the field. That mix of experience and fresh perspective enriched the conversations.

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Three Ways Funders Can Plan Now For Above-Normal Hurricane Season

With the kickoff of hurricane season on June 1, forecasters at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center say the Atlantic could see another above-normal hurricane season this year. Here is a snapshot of their predictions for the season that runs through the end of November:

  • 45% of an above-normal season
  • 70% likelihood of 11 to 17 named storms
  • 5 to 9 of which could become hurricanes
  • 2 to 4 of which could be major hurricanes (Category 3, 4, or 5)

NOAA predictions also included the eastern Pacific and central Pacific hurricane basins.

  • An 80% chance of near or above-normal season is predicted for each region.
  • Central Pacific model predicts 5 to 8 tropical cyclones including tropical depressions, tropical storms, and hurricanes.
  • Eastern Pacific prediction model:
    • 14 to 30 named storms
    • 6 to 11 of those becoming hurricanes
    • Including 3 to 7 major hurricanes

So what’s a funder to DO?

  1. Prepare, prepare, prepare – If you live in a coastal area, ensure that your continuity of operations plans (COOP) are up to date, your communications strategies are current, your plan for engaging internal and external stakeholders is in place, and you know how and when to reach out to your existing grantees to offer them support and guidance.

  2. Update your disaster grantmaking plan – If you don’t have a plan for how to allocate grants before, during, or after a disaster, draft one. Know what dollars are available to grant to hurricane preparedness or recovery activities, and have an eye for which organizations you would likely support in case of a disaster. CDP is happy to help you develop your plans.

  3. Call the Center for Disaster Philanthropy – The team at CDP would welcome a conversation around effective hurricane philanthropy. We can help you identify grantees, craft a grantmaking strategy, provide you with timely and relevant disaster information, and support you and your community before, during, and after a major storm hits.
Regine Webster is the vice president of the Center for Disaster Philanthropy. This post was originally published on the Center for Disaster Philanthropy's blog.

Getting to Know SECF

If you’re new to the SECF family, or are considering applying for membership, we want to make sure you know everything that makes SECF a grantmaker network like no other.

Last week, we hosted “Getting to Know SECF,” a webinar highlighting the people, programs, events and benefits that have made us one of the strongest and most vibrant grantmaker networks in the country, one that has continued to attract new members all while hitting a 96 percent retention rate in the last year.

If you couldn’t make this webinar, or joined us but would like to review what makes SECF membership so valuable, you can view the entire presentation below. Our speakers included me, as well as SECF President & CEO Janine Lee, Senior Director of Programs & Partnerships Dwayne Marshall, Director of Marketing & Communications David Miller, and three members of the SECF Board of Trustees – Bob Fockler of the Community Foundation of Greater Memphis, Stephanie Cooper-Lewter of the Sisters of Charity Foundation of South Carolina, and Gilbert Miller of the Bradley-Turner Foundation.

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A One-Stop Shop for Community Foundation Pros

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

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.

1. Successful Grantmaker Collaborations

In February of this year, SECF partnered with the Center for Effective Philanthropy (CEP) to deliver a webinar titled “Working Well with Grantees.” The discussion was moderated by Kelvin Bolduc, Vice President, Assessment and Advisory Services, at CEP and featured two leaders from SECF member The Healing Trust: Kristen Keely-Dinger and Jennifer Oldham. Kristen and Jennifer both profiled some of the best practices that they have implemented in order to enhance their effectiveness with their grantee partners.

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SECF Announces Keynote & Plenary Speakers for 48th Annual Meeting

Today, SECF is proud to announce a compelling and diverse lineup of keynote and plenary speakers that will headline the 48th Annual Meeting taking place November 14-16 in Orlando, Florida.

The array of speakers taking the main stage will include national thought leaders, experienced practitioners, and inspiring storytellers.

“SECF members attending the Annual Meeting will hear powerful insights and expert advice from the lineup of speakers we’ve assembled,” said Janine Lee, SECF’s president and CEO. “The quality of our lineup is also a testament to the quality of our members and to the quality of the Annual Meeting itself. We look forward to presenting an event where grantmakers will hear new ideas on the future of our field and come away inspired to take their work to new heights.”

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Grantee Inclusion: An Adaptive Challenge

Last month, I was fortunate to attend the Grantee Inclusion Workshop in Savannah, GA, made possible by a partnership between SECF and Grantmakers for Effective Organizations (GEO). The Mary Black Foundation, like many foundations in the Southeast, has been following the work of GEO and has been particularly interested in best practice research around how to meaningfully engage grantees.

The Grantee Inclusion Workshop was perfectly designed to facilitate thinking about why grantee inclusion is important, what organizational changes might be needed to better engage grantees, and how foundation staff can lead those changes.

The Challenge

According to GEO, 53 percent of staffed foundations solicit feedback from their grantees and use that information to shape their policies, programs and strategies. Yet, surveys of foundation staff and nonprofit leaders demonstrate a disconnect between grantmakers’ view of themselves and how nonprofits perceive grantmakers regarding openness to discussing a variety of topics.

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Reinventing Food Banks

Stephen ShermanLast week I had the opportunity to attend a forum From Feeding People to Ending Hunger: Reinventing Food Banks, a forum hosted by the Social Enterprise program at Emory University’s Goizueta Business School. The panelists represented organizations working to address hunger at the national, state, and local level and provided a layered perspective on strategies for ending hunger in the U.S.

The event included remarks from Kim Hamilton, Chief Impact Officer at Feeding America, Jon West, Vice President of Programs at the Atlanta Community Food Bank, and Jeremy Lewis, Executive Director of Urban Recipe.

Each of these organizations is doing its part to fight hunger: Feeding America is a nationwide network of 200 food banks and 60,000 food pantries and meal programs that provides food and services to more than 46 million people each year. The Atlanta Community Food Bank is part of Feeding America’s network and partners with more than 600 nonprofit partners to distribute over 60 million meals to more than 755,000 people in 29 counties across metro Atlanta and north Georgia. Urban Recipe operates within a unique co-op model in which each family served becomes a member of a 50-family co-op that meets biweekly to apportion donated food.

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Six Years Later, Hull Fellows Experience Continues to Make an Impact

Editor’s Note: SECF is now taking applications for the 2017-18 class of Hull Fellows! Click here for more information and to submit your application. Applications are due Friday, April 28!

I won't say that I was cocky or that I believed I knew all I needed to, but there was a large part of me that understood philanthropy as a simple and straightforward mechanism of American society. If the me of ten years ago was questioned, I would, more than likely, admit that the world of organized philanthropy was as about as complex as grass farming. Plow ground, sew seeds, water in, wait eight weeks, and bam...grass.

My year in the Hull Fellowship program changed this view completely. Not only did I discover that large social issues are a bit more complicated than basic agriculture, but also I found that many of the solutions I touted had been tried repeatedly, with little to no success. I learned that my family's foundation was as unique as it was common, that many of the issues we faced had been addressed by other family foundations in the past, and that many of our quirks were our very own. There were literally hundreds of insights on operations and governance. I imagine the virtual lightbulb above my head burning with a blinding light by the end of my fellowship year.

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Introducing Inspiration: SECF’s New Quarterly Magazine

Inspiration Vol. 26 No. 1 coverThis week SECF published the first issue of Inspiration – a new quarterly magazine focused on sharing rich stories of Southern Philanthropy, with a focus on collaborations, innovation and the embrace of new trends and emerging best practices.

Replacing our previous magazine, Interchange, Inspiration features a modern design built from the ground up. We plan to make greater use of graphics, photos and other visual elements, to complement written stories of how Southern grantmakers are transforming lives and communities.

Of course, many of the features from Interchange that SECF members know and love will continue to be part of Inspiration. These include a thoughtful message from President & CEO Janine Lee, updates on new members and new hires, and regular profiles of SECF members who are doing great things at their organizations.

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Listening Our Way to More Effective Grantmaking

Melinda TuanListen for Good (L4G), the centerpiece of a fast-growing collaborative of foundations putting feedback on the front lines of effective grantmaking, is opening its ears even wider.

The program, sponsored by Fund for Shared Insight, has announced its second, national, open request for proposals, with plans to make more than $3.3 million in grants to 75 nonprofits dedicated to listening systematically to the people they seek to help.

The new money and focused attention on feedback comes as the field continues to evolve amid growing interest and greater recognition of the benefits of listening – and acting on what is heard. A recent study by the Center for Effective Philanthropy found that 99 percent of nonprofits collect feedback from the people they seek to help, using a variety of methods, including focus groups, surveys, and one-on-one conversations.

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