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SECF Offices Closing Early Due to Inclement Weather

Due to inclement weather in the Atlanta area, the SECF offices will close at 11:00am on Friday, December 8. Staff will remain available by cellphone and email during normal business hours to respond to member requests. We expect that our offices will reopen on schedule on Monday, December 11.

To everyone dealing with today’s unpleasant weather, we hope you stay safe, warm and dry!

New Reports Highlight Growth of Donor-Advised Funds and Giving Circles

Even taking into account the Great Recession, we’ve generally seen the numbers, assets, and giving for private and community foundations in the United States continue to rise over the past decade. Over the long term, that growth has been steady and alludes to the staying power of foundations in spite of changing social, economic and political circumstances. However, while foundations have the capacity to make transformative grants in their respective communities, collectively they account for a relatively small share of charitable giving when compared with contributions from individual donors.

Donor-advised funds (DAFs) and giving circles lie somewhere in between foundations and individuals on the giving spectrum and are two of the fastest growing philanthropic vehicles. Two recent studies offer insight into the growth of these giving instruments in the United States.

The 2017 Donor-Advised Fund Report, published by the National Philanthropic Trust, surveys the growth of DAFs in the United States from 2010-2016 and provides an analysis of funds by sponsor type. Data was gathered from over 1,000 organizations that sponsor DAFs, including national charities, community foundations and single-issue charities. In 2016, there were approximately 285,000 individual donor-advised funds across the country – more than three times the number of private foundations. Nearly 44,000 DAFs are housed in organizations within SECF’s 11-state footprint, representing around 15 percent of all donor-advised funds in the country.

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International African American Museum in Charleston Attracts Support from Philanthropy

“Went down to the rocks to hide my face. The rocks cried out, no hiding place,” Elizabeth Alexander, Director of Creativity and Free Expression at the Ford Foundation, said, contemplating the African American biblical phrase at a recent event in support of the International African American Museum. She continued, “I don’t think that the ground on which we walk stays silent forever. I think that actually the ground has to speak, and now there is a moment where people are realizing that this is a story that needs to be narrated, needs to be spoken.”

The International African American Museum (IAAM) is being designed to give voice to the sacred land of Gadsden’s Wharf, and to the stories of the men, women and children whose lives are intrinsically tied to that hallowed ground. Nearly half of all enslaved Africans forced to America through the Transatlantic Slave Trade arrived in Charleston, and the vast majority disembarked at Gadsden’s Wharf, the future home of the IAAM and one of the most significant and sites of the African American experience in the Western hemisphere.

The museum, a $75 million project, is just $7 million away from reaching its fundraising goal, which it aims to accomplish by the end of 2017. With the funds secured, the museum will break ground in early 2018 and open in 2020. 

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Policy Alert: Protect the Charitable Deduction – Calls Needed to Senators Now!

Tax reform legislation is moving toward a floor vote this week in the Senate – that means we have only a few days to ensure the bill protects and promotes charitable giving!

Senate Republicans are working to get 50 votes in support of their bill, which means there are opportunities for changes to the legislation that will help your foundation and the nonprofits you support.

The current Senate bill does NOT preserve the full scope and value of the charitable deduction. However, Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) has introduced the Universal Charitable Giving Act, which would create a charitable deduction, with no caps, that would be available to all taxpayers, including non-itemizers. SECF supports this measure.

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Your Opinion Matters

Editor’s Note: MagnifyGood is a communications consultancy that magnifies the good of the social sector using strategic communications.

If you are attending SECF’s Annual Meeting in Orlando, you will have an opportunity to participate in an important step the organization is taking.  SECF has partnered with us to conduct research focusing on the benefits of SECF membership, both to you and to your foundation. Your input is vital to the success of the project and demonstrates your commitment to SECF.

The research process involves your input on statements that reflect perceived benefits of SECF. We hope you will take the time to review several statements about SECF membership and tell us how you feel about each one. Your participation is a way to support SECF while at the meeting and long term.

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Look to Your Community Foundation in Times of Crisis

This post originally appeared on Exponent Philanthropy’s PhilanthroFiles blog.

Everyone wants to help during a crisis, and, for many, that means giving money. But few understand what it takes to distribute funds to the people, businesses, or nonprofits that will create the greatest impact and fulfill the most need—especially if the money lives in different funds at different organizations.

Enter community foundations, which are inherently good at sharing information and resources. In fact, they do it all the time. Community foundations exist to help others do more with less and find ways to strengthen a community through common resources, ingenuity, and communication.

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Coming Together to Listen for Good

In the words of Helen Keller, “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” When it comes to Spartanburg, collaboration is a key cornerstone to ensuring that we are maximizing resources and achieving maximum results. Some of these strategic partnerships expand well beyond the corners of our county, aligning with funding partners across the country.

The Listen for Good initiative is one such example of philanthropy innovatively coming together to create positive impact in communities across the United States. Housed at Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, the Fund for Shared Insight was created in 2014 through a collaboration of funders who had the desire to pool philanthropic dollars to make a greater impact. They developed Listen for Good, which is dedicated to building the practice of listening to the people organizations seek to help.

This past spring, The Spartanburg County Foundation was made aware of Listen for Good through an e-newsletter that was distributed by SECF. Upon learning more about this opportunity and its potential positive impact on a Spartanburg County nonprofit, Spartanburg County Foundation staff immediately reached out to our colleagues at the Mary Black Foundation to explore partnering together to nominate a local nonprofit for consideration.

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Reading Between the Lines: “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act 2017”

Editor’s Note: Sandra Swirski and Sara Barba of the Washington, D.C., advocacy firm Urban Swirski & Associates offer regular analysis of public policy developments of interest to Southern grantmakers – reading between the lines so you don’t have to.

Just today, the House Ways and Means Committee released their tax reform legislation, dubbed the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.” Republican tax writers have been working for years on a tax overhaul, and it seems this year is their best chance to get something passed. In light of the recently concluded World Series, this week we’ll provide a Win-Loss assessment of key SECF priorities included in the bill, as well as highlight other provisions that the nonprofit sector has been watching.

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2017 Salary Data for Southeast Grantmakers Now Available

Stephen ShermanIn SECF’s 2016 market analysis, 43 percent of responding organizations stated that they anticipated adding new staff within the next 12 months and close to a third reported having replaced their executive director within the past three years.

With each new staff member, promotion, or position added, there are crucial decisions that have to be made regarding compensation. Not only do foundations want to remain competitive and attract the best talent, but they also have to show due diligence and demonstrate that staff and CEO compensation is, according to IRS guidelines, “reasonable and not excessive.” As a best practice, it is recommended that foundations and other charities review comparable salary and benefits data for other organizations with similar missions and of a similar budget or asset size.

Each year, SECF partners with the Council on Foundations (COF) to produce comparative analyses of salary data for foundation staff and CEOs in the Southeast. These reports are generated using COF’s Benchmarking Central tool that includes salary data for staff in multiple roles within foundations.

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Multiplying Our Impact: Why Foundations Should Care about Policy Research

Creating a public policy research center was not a part of our original plan.

The Healing Trust’s grantmaking initially focused on programs that demonstrated measurable health outcomes for vulnerable Middle Tennesseans. Over time, we realized that public policy affects everything our grantee partners do to improve the health of our community. This realization led us to support health-focused advocacy work alongside direct services. We created an advocacy grant program to provide support for nonprofit partners advocating for policy changes and program improvements that advance health outcomes by either increasing access to health services or preventing childhood trauma.

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Policy Alert: Tax Reform Is Happening – Tell Lawmakers to Protect Philanthropy!

This week the U.S. House is slated to unveil tax reform legislation that could have serious consequences for endowed philanthropy. Members of Congress need to hear from grantmakers like you to ensure that, as this bill moves through the legislative process, the ability of foundations to improve lives and support communities is not diminished. 

SECF is urging lawmakers to consider the importance of philanthropy, charitable giving and grantmakers’ missions to strengthen nonprofits and other tax-exempt institutions. To ensure that Southern Philanthropy speaks with one, united voice, this week the SECF Executive Committee approved four policy priorities for tax reform

  • Universal Charitable Deduction: Public policy should encourage charitable giving and all taxpayers should receive recognition for their charitable contributions – a belief shared by many in Congress. Rep. Mark Walker has proposed H.R. 3988, which would create a universal charitable deduction accessible to all filers, even those who do not itemize their return. 

    Rep. Walker’s bill is a good starting point. We are concerned about the caps included in the current bill, which would limit the charitable deduction to about a third of the standard deduction for non-itemizers. Such a limitation threatens to reduce overall giving. However, we look forward to working with lawmakers in the House and Senate to improve this proposal in the hope that such a cap would not become a ceiling that could affect charitable giving. 
  • Private Foundation Excise Tax: SECF has long supported simplification of the private foundation excise tax, freeing up funding for foundations to provide to the communities they seek to improve. We support Rep. Erik Paulsen’s bill, H.R. 2386, to streamline the private foundation excise tax, and hope for its inclusion in tax reform legislation. 
  • Independence of Donor-Advised Funds: We urge Congress to bear in mind the philanthropic sector’s role and value to our communities by encouraging growth in charitable giving and resisting unnecessary regulations that constrain individual donor vehicles, including proposals to require mandatory programmed payouts from donor-advised funds.
  • IRA Rollover to Donor-Advised Funds: SECF encourages the increase of individual philanthropy through donor-advised funds and therefore supports provisions similar to legislation (H.R. 4907) offered in the last Congress by Rep. George Holding that would allow individuals to rollover funds from individual retirement accounts (IRAs) to their donor-advised funds.

The House Ways and Means Committee will begin hearings on tax reform legislation next week. These hearings offer a great opportunity for changes to be made to the bill that support philanthropic giving.


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Reading Between the Lines: Budgets, Taxes & Charitable Giving

Editor’s Note: Sandra Swirski and Sara Barba of the Washington, D.C., advocacy firm Urban Swirski & Associates offer regular analysis of public policy developments of interest to Southern grantmakers – reading between the lines so you don’t have to.

The timeline for tax reform has accelerated in the past couple weeks, and House lawmakers are now talking about passing a tax reform bill in their chamber before Thanksgiving. This week, we’ll dive into that timeline and how expanding the charitable sector could come up in the tax reform debate.

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Introducing the Rural Philanthropy Analysis Project

Editor's Note: This post originally appeared on Campbell University's website. We're sharing it here due to the strong interest among SECF members in rural philanthropy, as well as the author's strong ties to Southern grantmakers.

I am excited to welcome you to become part of Campbell University’s new Rural Philanthropy Analysis (RPA) project.* The RPA is taking a deep look at rural philanthropy – foundation behavior and practice – around the country that is helping rural communities move forward for the health and well-being of all their residents.

For nearly 20 years, I have been involved in the practice and study of rural philanthropy. At no time previously has the interest in rural philanthropy been as strong as now. Some of this interest is undoubtedly stimulated by the recent elections and the accompanying sense that the domain of rural America has been excluded from the public discourse. Philanthropy is no different. Within hours of the results of last year’s presidential election being finalized, I received a call from a national philanthropic publication and a separate call from a national foundation wanting to know more about how they could “learn about rural.”

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Bar Foundations: Partners in Philanthropy

Three years ago, the Georgia Bar Foundation (GBF) applied for and received a grant, funded by the Public Welfare Foundation, to expand our involvement in the local philanthropic community. The plan included partnering with SECF to raise awareness of bar foundations and their grantees, to promote greater understanding of the importance of civil indigent legal services, and to nurture relationships with other foundations. In essence, the grant supported a coming out party for the Georgia Bar Foundation among the many foundations that comprise Georgia’s philanthropic community.

SECF helped introduce us to its members so they would know who we are, who our grantees are and what we are trying to accomplish. SECF helped us create a webinar, “Funding Civil Legal Aid to Advance Your Grantmaking Goals” and an online tool kit, “Funding Civil Legal Aid,” that provides a way for state bar foundation members to spotlight their states statistically in great detail.

One of the outcomes of this initial grant was other foundations’ being more aware of the importance of access to justice in their states and the nation. Another important outcome was the realization of how sophisticated and knowledgeable our SECF membership is and how much I have learned, and still need to learn, from them. Perhaps the most important outcome, however, was the opportunity for bar foundations to discuss becoming partners with other foundations in attacking our mutual problems.

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Resolution & Transformation

Editor's Note: We wanted to share this item from one of our members, the Robins Foundation, a family foundation in Virginia. You can view the original item on the foundation's website.

Hate has no place in our work.

Many of us have been saddened, confused and angered by recent events highlighting the fractures in our society and community fabric. The fissures created by hate highlight the need for more dialogue and more engagement, not less. We value love, patience, inclusion and teamwork. We value diverse voices and diverse perspectives.

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Helping Caribbean Islands Recover from a Devastating Hurricane Season

As anyone who lives in the Southeast knows, hurricanes can cause massive devastation and disruption. Streets and homes flood, power disappears, cellular networks go down and basic necessities are suddenly in short supply.

Hurricanes Harvey and Irma represented a 1-2 punch, hitting communities along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts. In their wake, many foundations stepped up, creating or contributing to funds to fuel relief efforts that will last long after these storms fade from the headlines.

Unfortunately, as we’ve all seen in the past week, this hurricane season’s impact has spread beyond the Southeast. Many island nations and U.S. territories in the Caribbean, which were already hit hard by Harvey and Irma, were also dealt another blow by Hurricane Maria. Some places, like Barbuda, were rendered nearly uninhabitable. In other places, particularly Puerto Rico, residents are facing the possibility of weeks or even months without electricity.

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Reading Between the Lines: The GOP Tax Reform Plan

Editor’s Note: Sandra Swirski and Sara Barba of the Washington, D.C., advocacy firm Urban Swirski & Associates offer regular analysis of public policy developments of interest to Southern grantmakers – reading between the lines so you don’t have to.

As you may have seen, on Wednesday the White House, House Ways and Means Committee and Senate Finance Committee released a new tax reform document that is intended to serve as the template for tax writers when drafting tax reform legislation. The short version? There wasn’t a lot of new information. But it was what wasn’t said that was truly revealing – and disappointing. This week, we’ll read between the lines of the framework to shed some light on what it might mean for the charitable sector.

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Reading Between the Lines: A Final Push on Health Care

Editor’s Note: Sandra Swirski and Sara Barba of the Washington, D.C., advocacy firm Urban Swirski & Associates offer regular analysis of public policy developments of interest to Southern grantmakers – reading between the lines so you don’t have to.

You may have noticed recently that health care has become the centerpiece of conversations in Washington… again. Earlier this year, in July, the Senate tried and failed to pass a bill that would repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, and most folks in Washington thought Republicans were done trying to gut the health care law. Then, last week, Senators Lindsay Graham (R-SC) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA) revived the effort (pun intended).

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Natural Disasters Prompt Difficult Questions for Funders

I am sitting here in my office in Nashville, Tennessee, surrounded by a steady rain that represents the remnants of Irma. No likelihood of flooding here, but definitely a reminder of the power of water – either via floods or hurricanes – and the devastation that it can bring.

SECF’s footprint covers the 11 states that are arguably hardest hit by hurricanes domestically. Last year, Florida and the Carolinas faced Hurricane Matthew, Louisiana saw vast parts of the state devastated by flooding, and Georgia has been hit by rare winter weather. Until just this past week, it had been years since Florida took a direct hurricane hit. That changed radically this past weekend.

While reports of destruction following Hurricane Irma are still coming in, we know a hurricane and subsequent flooding can cause protracted power outages, water quality concerns, infrastructure losses – roads, hospitals, public health systems – and massive damage to homes, roofs, and community structures.

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Hurricane Irma Update

Update (3:30pm, Monday, Sept. 11): The SECF offices will remain closed on Tuesday, September 12. Staff will be working remotely and remain available to respond to member requests. We hope everyone is safe and dry!

Original post

Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone in Florida and elsewhere in the region who have been affected by Hurricane Irma, which made landfall over the weekend.

Due to the severe weather that Irma is expected to bring to the Atlanta area, the SECF offices will be closed on Monday, September 11. All staff remain available by e-mail to respond to member requests, including those seeking information on how to respond to the storm.

If you would like to help provide medium- and long-term support, please consider a donation to the Center for Disaster Philanthropy 's Hurricane Irma Recovery Fund.

We will provide further updates as needed. SECF is also working with the Center for Disaster Philanthropy on programming for members interested in helping with relief and recovery. Please watch SECF.org, our social media accounts, and your e-mail for further details.