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New UBIT Guidance May Offer Relief for Foundations, Grantees

SECF has been closely tracking developments related to changes affecting the Unrelated Business Income Tax (UBIT) – you may have joined the webinar we hosted last week on this topic. Today, we wanted to share with you some good news that may help your foundation and its grantees.

Since the start of 2018, organizations that offer employees transportation or parking benefits are subject to a 21 percent Unrelated Business Income Tax (UBIT) on those benefits – this is a significant change that would increase the UBIT owed by many organizations and lead other nonprofits to pay UBIT for the first time. Nonprofits would have to determine the value of any provided transportation and parking benefit. This is especially problematic for organizations in rural or suburban areas that, for example, have an employee parking lot.

New rules issued by the Treasury Department this week, however, allow for organizations to net their parking and transportation expenses against any other income subject to UBIT, which could wipe out any tax.

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New NNCG Partnership Connects SECF Members to Knowledge and Expertise

SECF works every day to ensure our members are not only aware of the latest trends and emerging best practices in the field, but also are given the tools to integrate them into their own work.

That’s why I’m excited to announce a new partnership between SECF and the National Network of Consultants to Grantmakers (NNCG) to share an online resource that puts expert skills and knowledge at the fingertips of our members across the Southeast.

NNCG’s Directory of Consultants contains hundreds of highly qualified, carefully vetted consultants — all searchable by skill set, geography, foundation type or program area. The NNCG Directory of Consultants is the only directory of experienced, vetted philanthropy consultants serving all types and sizes of grantmakers.

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Philanthropic Networks Have a Powerful Role to Play in Advancing Equity

Racial inequities have persisted over generations. Social movements have challenged structural racism and encouraged the societal and policy changes required to alter various dimensions of deep-seated inequities. Whatever progress has transpired over the last several decades, recent developments have reminded us of the depth and breadth of contemporary racism. From incidents of police brutality, to the continued criminalization of people of color, to the normalizing of anti-immigrant sentiments and white supremacist thinking that were exacerbated during the 2016 elections, we have received many reminders how much work is to be done. And it is difficult to grapple with, what feels much more like movement backward in an area where so many had hoped we were on a faster track to progress with the election of Barack Obama in 2008.

In this context, conversations about race and racial equity and DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) have increased in the field of philanthropy. As philanthropic contributions are often designated to address many of the issues (education, health, etc.) in which racial disparities are highly apparent, it is no wonder more voices inside and outside of the field are wondering about the role of foundations in advancing racial equity. While there is much to be done in society at large, there is also a great deal of work required if philanthropy is going to become a reliable catalyst toward racial equity and inclusion.

Since 2006, my company, Marga Incorporated, has been coordinating learning exchanges among foundations through the Race and Equity in Philanthropy Group (REPG). REPG addresses how to embed a commitment to racial equity and inclusion into foundations’ policies and practices. Through these conversations, we realized that peer learning is crucial to facilitating institutional change in foundations. As we continue to ponder how to influence institutional change among a greater number of foundations, it has become increasingly clear that networks of foundations are uniquely positioned to advance conversations and action regarding racial equity and inclusion.

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Improving the Lives of Older Tennesseans Through the Power of Collective Advocacy and Public-Private Partnerships

A unique example of a statewide private-public partnership is part on an ongoing story which should affect Tennessee for years to come.

As a result of two court settlements, $36 million in funding is being granted to six different organizations in Tennessee for the purposes of implementing statewide initiatives designed to make lives better for older residents. Working with the court, five philanthropic organizations – the West End Home Foundation (Nashville), United Way of Greater Knoxville, Memorial Foundation (Hendersonville), HCA Foundation (Nashville), and Assisi Foundation (Memphis) – provided their expertise to develop a process to accept, then carefully vet, statewide proposals in four specific areas:

  • Senior Legal Assistance
  • Senior Affordable Housing
  • Senior Transportation
  • Senior Dental

These areas were selected based on statewide need and a history of limited resources. Proposals were evaluated based on their level of innovation, ability to implement and sustainability. The process took almost two years to complete.

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Dianne Oliver on the Value of Connection and Supporting Aging Populations

Editor’s Note: This year, Grantmakers in Aging’s annual conference will come to the Southeast, taking place at Memphis’ legendary Peabody hotel October 17-19. Ahead of this event, we asked Dianne Oliver, executive director of the West End Home Foundation, based in Nashville, for some thoughts on the value of membership associations like SECF and GIA, as well as the importance of supporting aging populations.

What do you find valuable about being a member of SECF? GIA?

The benefits of being a member of SECF and GIA can be captured in three words: relationships, information and community.

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Hear SECF's Janine Lee on Independent Sector's Civil Renewal Podcast

This week, SECF President & CEO Janine Lee joined her counterpart at Independent Sector, Dan Cardinali, for a discussion about civil society and values, with a particular focus on the American South. The discussion is featured in the latest episode of Independent Sector's Civil Renewal podcast. The episode, Finding Hope in the American South, is now available on the web and through Apple Podcasts or Google Podcasts.

Inside Our New Framework for Grantmaking and Learning

For the past two years, the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation has been on an exciting, exploratory journey, as we have taken a step back to examine our own work and determine how we can best serve the people of North Carolina moving forward.

One thing we’ve learned is that this process of discovery and reflection will be ongoing and in many ways our learning, and the journey, is just beginning. It is in this spirit of ongoing learning that we recently announced the launch of All For NC: Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation's Framework for Grantmaking and Learning.

Our new framework reflects the foundation’s longstanding commitment to improving the quality of life for all North Carolinians and infuses what we heard during our statewide listening and learning tour about what is critical, and visionary, at this moment in time.

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Helping All Kids Succeed in School and in Life is Possible, and We Have the Tools

If we consider the learning process as an assembly line, our first reaction is to say that the assembly line is broken in high school – after all, that’s where dropouts occur.

But although high school is where the dramatic evidence of the failed system is obvious, that’s not where the break occurs, and therefore, that is not the point at which it can be fixed. By then, it’s too late.

If we move toward the beginning of the assembly line, we find that children unprepared for kindergarten often don’t achieve reading comprehension by the third grade and are, therefore, 90 percent likely to become a dropout.

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Family Separations are a Humanitarian Issue

Like all of you, we have been horrified and disturbed in recent days by the images and stories of children being separated from their families at the southern border. We are speaking out today because we believe the treatment of children and families is not a political issue – it is a humanitarian one.

Any parent can understand the importance of holding and cuddling children, and the power of nurturing to calm them. The idea of not being there to hold them, and never being certain about when we might see them again, would be unbearable. 

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Meet This Year's Champions of Southern Philanthropy

For the third year in a row, SECF’s Annual Meeting will include a morning plenary showcasing a few of the leaders who represent Southern Philanthropy’s power to transform lives and communities and are among our sector’s strongest supporters.

That’s right – the Breakfast with Champions of Southern Philanthropy is back! This year, we’ve introduced a new twist: All five of this year’s panelists are trustees. As stewards of the mission and purpose of their foundations, these men and women provide a long-term perspective that is essential to making a lasting impact across the region.

One thing we’re glad hasn’t changed: Mark Constantine, president and CEO of the Richmond Memorial Health Foundation, has once again agreed to moderate this discussion, guaranteeing insightful questions, meaningful dialogue, moving moments – and more than a few laughs.

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When Data Inspires a Movement: How Arkansans Are Working Together to Boost Student Reading Scores

Only 37 percent of Arkansas third graders read on grade level. Thirty-seven percent. That’s according to student scores on the 2016 ACT Aspire Assessment, the state’s standardized achievement test.

Almost two-thirds of Arkansas children lack the critical early literacy skills they need to be successful throughout the rest of their educational careers and beyond. For those of us who aren’t teachers, principals or school administrators, we might wonder “What can I do about it?” A growing coalition of Arkansans are answering that question with a resounding “Take action!”

When Arkansas Community Foundation produced the first edition of our Aspire Arkansas report, we wanted to provide community leaders with better access to information that would spark conversations about community-minded solutions. Access to key facts and data about our communities can serve as a roadmap, giving us a sense of where we are now and where we can go. We’ve been working to answer the question, “What can everyday Arkansans do to move the numbers in the right direction, and what can Arkansas Community Foundation do to help?”

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Get Ready for SECF's Member Survey

SECF places a priority on being responsive to our members – the offerings, programs, services and benefits we provide are all based on what Southern grantmakers tell us they need to build connections, develop leaders and stay current on the latest trends and emerging best practices.

Our biennial member survey is one of the primary tools we use to know what SECF members need, want and expect. Our last member survey yielded results that continue to influence the work we do – you can check out the key findings of the 2016-17 survey here.

Our 2018 member survey will begin next week. As we did two years ago, we’re working with Geo Strategy Partners, a respected research firm, to contact our members and conduct the survey. Geo Strategy Partners will be reaching out directly to our membership with a link to complete the survey online. We expect the survey to take 15-20 minutes to complete. Since we will be seeking feedback from multiple perspectives, responses will not be limited to one per organization and all staff and trustees are welcome to participate in the survey.

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Registration Now Open for SECF's 49th Annual Meeting

Today's the day: Registration is now open for SECF's 49th Annual Meeting: Come Together. Bridge the Divide. The region's premiere philanthropic event will draw grantmakers, experts and thought leaders to Louisville, Kentucky, for three days of connection, ​engagement ​and ​inspiration. ​We ​will ​confront ​critical ​issues ​facing ​our ​field ​– ​rising ​economic ​inequality, ​increasing ​polarization, ​and ​questions ​about ​philanthropy's ​role ​and ​purpose ​– ​while ​celebrating ​the ​ideas ​and ​people ​that ​are ​strengthening ​the ​fabric ​of ​our ​communities ​and ​pointing ​the ​way ​to ​a ​bright ​future.

This year's meeting features a fantastic lineup of keynote and plenary speakers who will be able to speak to this moment in the history of not only our nation, but also our region and our host city. Our featured speakers are:

Mark Gerzon
Author, "The Reunited
States of America"
Lonnie Ali
Lifetime Director, 
The Muhammad Ali Center
Michael McAfee
President & CEO, 
Jon Meacham
Author & Historian,
"The Soul of America"
William C. Bell
President & CEO, 
Casey Family Programs


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Data Shows More Needs to be Done to Bring Widespread Prosperity to the South

Editor's Note: SECF is partnering with the Council on Foundations to promote the first Inclusive Economic Prosperity Convening in the South, May 23-24, hosted by The Spartanburg County Foundation. We hope you will join us for this important convening of foundation staff and trustees to learn how philanthropy can be a driving force that advances economic prosperity for all. Register today!

While economic disparities in the U.S. are widespread, nowhere in the country is the gap in economic mobility more pronounced than the South. Just look at the map below and you’ll notice the broad swath of red indicating the lack of upward mobility in the region. Raj Chetty and a team of researchers from Stanford, Harvard, and Berkeley used data from the most-recent Census and tax returns to chart the chance a child born into the bottom fifth income bracket could reach the top fifth by adulthood.

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Building an Inclusive Economy

Editor's Note: This post originally appeared on the blog of the Council on Foundations (COF). SECF has partnered with COF and The Spartanburg County Foundation on a two-day convening in Spartanburg, Inclusive Economic Prosperity in the South, where we will consider the factors that make up a healthy local and regional economy that strives to be inclusive and promotes innovation. Learn more and register here!

Our economic landscape today looks very different than it did 25 years ago. This pattern of change will inevitably continue as technological advancements are rapidly introduced to the world.

To adapt to this new landscape, foundations must be willing to shift and evolve with the changing communities we serve.  Seventy-five years ago, our founder— Walter Scott Montgomery—had a vision of introducing community philanthropy to Spartanburg County to meet the needs of the entire area. His vision began with a $10,000 investment that has evolved into a $213 million philanthropic organization that is continuously working to improve the lives of Spartanburg County residents by promoting philanthropy, encouraging local engagement, and responding to community needs.

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Courage to Lead (from our hearts) in Philanthropy

Editor's Note: We're sharing this post, written by former Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation Executive Director Gayle Williams, from the National Center for Family Philanthropy's blog. NCFP and SECF are partnering on the June 12-13 Courage to Lead Retreat in Asheville, North Carolina, which immediately precedes the 2018 Family Foundations Forum.

Twenty-five years of work in foundations has confirmed for me what is now emerging as a truth in the leadership field: Trustworthy relationships and emotional intelligence are at the heart of all successful leadership. Foundations are heady places where academic knowledge, analytical thinking, measurable impact, and management competence are highly valued. These are all important, but insufficient for life-giving and effective work in family foundations where complicated family dynamics are at play as staffs and boards work on complex community issues. At its heart, philanthropy is about relationships.

During my 20 years as a family foundation executive director, the Center for Courage and Renewal was a source for nurturing my skill and resilience as a leader in at least three key areas: Show Up; Be Trustworthy; Stay curious. 

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Reading Between the Lines: Transportation Benefits After Tax Reform

Editor’s Note: Sandra Swirski and her colleagues at 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.

Following the passage of the 2017 tax reform bill, nonprofits are re-evaluating how they determine their unrelated business taxable income (UBTI) tax, specifically in regard to transportation benefits. This week, we’ll dive into what the new transportation benefits provision could mean for your organization and your grantees, as well as what’s being done in Washington to help provide guidance.

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Who Will Take the Stage at SECF's 49th Annual Meeting?



This November, SECF members will converge on Louisville, Kentucky, for an Annual Meeting focused on philanthropy’s role in bringing people together to address the challenges facing our communities. At the 49th Annual Meeting: Come Together. Bridge the Divide. we will explore how foundations operate in a polarized environment and also look inward, examining what grantmakers can do – and can do better – in order to best help the South and its people.

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Reading Between the Lines: 2018 House Leadership Elections

Editor’s Note: Sandra Swirski and her colleagues at 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.

This week, lawmakers returned to Washington after a two-week Easter recess, and House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) rattled Capitol Hill when he announced he won’t seek reelection this November. In this week’s column, we’ll dig deeper into the race for power in Congress.

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Annual Grantmaker Salary and Benefits Survey Opens Next Week

Stephen ShermanSECF is pleased to be among 10 regional philanthropy-serving organizations from across the county to partner with the Council on Foundations (COF) on the 2018 Grantmaker Salary and Benefits (GSB) Survey.

Since 1980, the GSB Survey has provided the sector with the most comprehensive data on staff composition and compensation in the United States for grantmakers to use in planning budgets, benchmarking personnel policies and practices, determining salary levels for new and existing staff, and more.

We encourage all SECF members to participate in the 2018 GSB Survey – the greater the participation, the greater the insight.

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