Philanthropy Southeast's Blog

Engage, Philanthropy Southeast's blog, is a space for 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 Philanthropy Southeast events and programs.

Do you have a story or insight you’d like to share with our members on Engage? Contact David Miller, vice president of strategic communications, at or at (404) 524-0911 to discuss your idea.


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Staff Highlight: Nora Blumenthal

Category: Member Highlight, 
Author: Philanthropy Southeast


Human behavior and social dynamics play an unmistakable role in the execution of philanthropy and explaining many of the issues it seeks to address – a fact that appealed to Nora Blumenthal when she decided to accept an internship at Philanthropy Southeast.

“One of my main motivators is problem solving to improve peoples' well-being,” said Nora, a Georgia State University senior studying psychology. “I've spent my college years studying psychology and have a strong grasp on the conceptual side of these things. I was seeking an opportunity that would show me the concrete, basic, and day-to-day operations of what it takes to organize groups of like-minded individuals and prepare actions.”

This spring, Nora has supported the Philanthropy Southeast team in its work to connect philanthropic leaders throughout the region. She attended February’s offering of Philanthropy Essentials and is now helping prepare materials for next month’s Foundations on the Hill.

“I've already learned a lot about how Congressional District offices work just in a week or two of FOTH prep,” Nora said. “I'll probably also start helping with setting up meetings between representatives and attendees. I'm looking forward to learning about some data mapping tools as well!”

Soon after her internship concludes, Nora will wrap up her bachelor’s degree – after a summer break, she plans to look at a diverse set of opportunities ranging from the FBI to clinical psychology programs.

“What I enjoy most about psychology is that there is an almost infinite depth of understanding available,” she said. “I take what I've learned and use it to keep learning, just with sharper senses.”

Nora, a native of the Bay Area, says she’s appreciated the abundance of nature in the Atlanta area – camping and hiking are among her hobbies – as well as a diversity of opinions and viewpoints.

“I think it's extremely important to question your beliefs on a regular basis, so being around people who fall all along the political or ideological spectrum is a positive aspect of the South,” she said.

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Member Highlight: Martin Lehfeldt and Jamil Zainaldin

Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations


Last week's 50th Annual Meeting also served as the release party for The Liberating Promise of Philanthropy: Stories of Grant-Makers in the South, the new book by former SECF President Martin Lehfeldt and Georgia Humanities President Emeritus Jamil Zainaldin that chronicles the history of philanthropy in the region, from the Civil War to the present day.

Ahead of the book's release, Martin and Jamil answered questions about their work in an interview with the book's publisher, The Storyline Group.

Q: What is The Liberating Promise of Philanthropy about?

Martin Lehfeldt: As the title suggests, it is about grant-makers (i.e., philanthropic foundations) that have been active in the South -- Northern-based ones and, later, those indigenous to the South.

Q: For your purposes, what constitutes the South?

Jamil Zainaldin: Eleven states that were formerly part of the old Confederacy: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and Tennessee.

Q: How many grantmaking foundations are there in the South today?

Lehfeldt: About 16,000, with combined assets of about $100 billion.

Q: What prompted you to write the book?

Lehfeldt: David Hammack, one of the foremost historians of philanthropy, was compiling a book about foundation activity in various regions of the United States. He asked us to contribute a chapter about the South, which did appear in his book American Philanthropic Foundations: Regional Difference and Change (Indiana University Press, 2018).

We felt there was enough material to merit a full-length book on the topic. When the SECF and the Georgia Humanities Council (a grant-making nonprofit affiliated with the National Endowment for the Humanities) expressed interest in sponsoring a history-oriented book about Southern philanthropy, we were off and running.

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SECF Staff Highlight: Gratia Sullivan

Tags: SECF Staff 
Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations


The arrival of summer means a new addition to the SECF team – intern Gratia Sullivan, who comes from the Emory University Center for Ethics Servant Leadership Summer program.

Gratia, a rising senior majoring in interdisciplinary studies with a minor in sociology, says supporting SECF will give her another perspective on the nonprofit sector, where she already has extensive internship and volunteer experience.

“I was excited when I saw that SECF was accepting an intern through the program and knew that working with SECF would be an incredible opportunity to increase my understanding of effective philanthropy in hopes of entering the nonprofit sector well prepared to inspire change in the issues I care about,” she said.

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Member Highlight: Brian Collier

Category: Member Highlight, 
Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations


Since 2018, the Foundation for the Carolinas has made affordable housing a priority through its Charlotte Housing Opportunity Investment Fund. Started with a $5 million program-related investment from the foundation, the fund received a big boost earlier this month when it announced commitments from BB&T, SunTrust and the SunTrust Foundation.

Those commitments bring the fund to $31 million - well on its way to meeting its $50 million goal. The foundation's executive vice president, Brian Collier, said the fund will be able to address a growing housing crisis in Charlotte and surrounding Mecklenburg County.

"Mecklenburg County faces a deficit of more than 30,000 affordable housing units, and nearly half of our residents – including moderate, low and extremely low-earning households – are cost-burdened, which means housing costs exceed 30 percent of their income," he said. "This is unsustainable and a major reason increasing access to affordable housing was a key recommendation of our 2017 Leading on Opportunity report, which analyzed causes of our community’s lack of economic mobility."

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Philanthropy Southeast
100 Peachtree Street NW, Suite 2080
Atlanta, GA 30303

Visiting Philanthropy Southeast:
All staff are working remotely at this time but can still be reached via email and by calling (404) 524-0911.

Monday-Thursday from 9:00am–6:00pm (ET)
Friday from 9:00am–12:00pm (ET)

Phone: (404) 524-0911
Fax: (404) 523-5116

Mission: Philanthropy Southeast strengthens Southern philanthropy, welcoming our members to listen, learn and collaborate on ideas and actions to help build an equitable, prosperous South.