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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A First Look at the 2022 Annual Meeting

Category: Annual Meeting, 



Today we’re excited to give you a first look at what’s in store for Philanthropy Southeast’s 2022 Annual Meeting – Bold Moves: Building a Brighter Future. Over three days in Amelia Island, Florida, we will come together to share how courageous leadership can translate into actions that take our work to the next level and help realize our vision of a just and equitable South!

As we prepare to open registration on Wednesday, June 15, we wanted to give you a quick preview of what’s in store for this year’s event!


Thought-Provoking Leaders Take the Stage


This year’s lineup of keynote and plenary speakers includes two voices with years of social sector experience who are also unafraid to speak their minds:

Edgar Villanueva, author of Decolonizing Wealth, Hull Fellows alumnus and award-winning author, activist, and expert on race, wealth, and philanthropy issues. Decolonizing Wealth, one of the most talked-about books in our field, was recently reissued as an expanded 2nd edition.

Vu Le, whose irreverent Nonprofit AF blog has long been a favorite of nonprofit and philanthropic leaders. His combination of blunt and provocative insights along with humor have made him a can’t-miss speaker that leaves audiences both entertained and energized.


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Submit Your Topic Ideas for the 2022 Annual Meeting

Category: Annual Meeting, 
Author: Philanthropy Southeast


The 2021 Annual Meeting is less than a week old, but we’re already turning our focus to next year – planning is now underway for Philanthropy Southeast’s 2022 Annual Meeting, and we’d like your ideas to be a part of it!

What topics should we explore in 2022? You can tell us your thoughts by answering our Call for Topics today – your submissions will be used by our Leadership and Session Design teams to build out the next Annual Meeting agenda.

Click the button below to get started – and mark your calendars for November 9-11, 2022, when the Philanthropy Southeast Annual Meeting comes to The Ritz-Carlton in Amelia Island, Florida.


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All About Our New Name - And Why It's Happening

Author: Janine Lee


Last week’s Annual Meeting was incredible for many reasons, but near the top of the list was our announcement of a new name for our organization: Philanthropy Southeast!

Since many people were not able to join us in Asheville this year, I wanted to take some time here to talk about our new name, the process that led up to it and what it means for our members going forward.

Philanthropy Southeast represents what we are today: an inclusive and courageous community of leaders working together for change, committed to a vision of a just and equitable South. We embrace philanthropy in all its forms – a “big tent” that welcomes many types of organizations and many forms of philanthropic capital. We focus not only on how philanthropy is done, but also the issues it addresses and the communities it serves.

Our new name was approved by an overwhelming majority in a vote of our members conducted ahead of this year’s Annual Meeting. I believe that margin was a result of the deliberate and thoughtful approach we took to this process, which began when we were planning our 50th Anniversary in 2019.

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2021 Annual Meeting Recap: Answering the Call in Asheville and Beyond

Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations


Last week, more than 500 leaders came together in Asheville, North Carolina, and online to not only attend the 2021 Annual Meeting, but also commit themselves to a new day and a new way defined by courageous leadership.

One big news item coming out of this year’s meeting: Our members overwhelmingly approved a new name, Philanthropy Southeast, that represents the organization we are today – an inclusive and courageous community of leaders working together for change. Stay tuned for more details about this exciting change!

This year’s Annual Meeting was the first hybrid event in our history and our first in-person event since March 2020. With strong health and safety protocols in place, as well as a virtual conference that allowed people to view sessions from their home or office, attendees were able to focus on the things that have made the Annual Meeting the region’s top philanthropic event: insightful sessions, powerful speakers and an unparalleled opportunity to connect with colleagues and experts from the Southeast and beyond.

Our opening keynote speaker, Wes Moore, got the event off to an inspiring start with remarks focused on what philanthropy – and those who lead it – need to emphasize in their work. “Our job in philanthropy is not to make ourselves bigger, it is to make the problems we are trying to solve smaller,” he told attendees. “If our revenue increased and we doubled the amount we granted but poverty increased, we failed.”

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Submit Your Nominee for the 2021 Truist Promise Award

Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations


This year’s Annual Meeting will include the second presentation of the Truist Promise Award recognizing innovative philanthropy in the Southeast! Last year, this prestigious honor honored work done by two SECF members: the Charlottesville Area Community Foundation and the Coastal Community Foundation of South Carolina.

Nominations for this year’s Truist Promise Award are now open. The award recognizes a particular initiative and/or innovative grantmaking strategy or approach, done by an individual organization or through a collective partnership – as such, it may be presented to more than one foundation if the initiative is a product of partnership and collaboration.

The Truist Promise Award recognizes work that focuses on significant and systemic issues facing the region and the country today. In addition, nominees must meet the following criteria:

  • Work focused on issues of racial equity, racial justice or anti-racism.
  • The innovative use of multiple forms of philanthropic capital, particularly beyond financial capital.
  • Use of data and research in determining strategies and tactics.
  • Cooperation with community partners, particularly in other sectors, or direct engagement with community members.
  • Impact/outcomes that are evidence-based.

You may nominate any SECF member organization, including your own, for the Promise Award. The recipient will be selected by a group of SECF staff and Board members and recognized at the 2021 Annual Meeting.

Nominations are due Friday, October 15. Click here to submit your nominee!

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Annual Meeting Speaker Highlight: Chandra Taylor

Category: Annual Meeting, 
Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations


The intersection between racial equity and climate change has become increasingly clear as marginalized populations, particularly people of color, disproportionately suffer the effects of extreme weather – these groups are also underrepresented among leading environmental groups, depriving them of a seat at the table and input on possible solutions.

There are leaders within the region seeking to change this dynamic, however. One of them is Chandra Taylor, senior attorney and leader of the Southern Environmental Law Center’s Environmental Justice Initiative. She will be one of several speakers at “Invisible Fences: Racial Equity and the Environment,” a breakout session taking place at this year’s Annual Meeting.

Taylor’s leadership was recently recognized by the North Carolina Wildlife Federation, which named her its Water Conservationist of the Year.

“Working at the intersection of civil rights and environmental protection, Taylor forced cleanups at contaminated industrial sites at Yadkin River and Badin Lake, stopped water pollution threatening North Carolina communities, and helped shape transit and landfill policies,” the federation said in announcing the award.

Taylor, who grew up in Kinston, North Carolina – one of many in the region devastated by the decline of the textile industry – says her personal experience has had a direct impact on her professional life.

“I was very specific about wanting to do work representing communities of color and low-wealth communities and I’m going to do it in the State of North Carolina because this is the place that I love,” she says. “Social justice is important to me because I saw people who worked really hard but still did not always make ends meet.”

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Annual Meeting Speaker Highlight: Takema Robinson

Tags: Louisiana 
Category: Annual Meeting, 
Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations


The expression “the more things change, the more they stay the same” could easily be applied to New Orleans, where despite the wake-up call and crisis sparked by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the city still suffers from troubling inequities the storm highlighted.

That pattern isn’t unique to New Orleans – across the region and the country, responses to crises often result in a return to the status quo without addressing whether that status quo was desirable in the first place.

Takema Robinson, executive director of the Greater New Orleans Funders Network (GNOFN) and CEO of her own consulting firm, knows this reality well.

“Following Hurricane Katrina, we witnessed $1 billion pour into our city during the recovery, and while much good work took place, we missed the opportunity to create long-term structural change,” she wrote recently on GNOFN’s website.

A similar situation is now unfolding with the COVID-19 pandemic, Robinson says, joining others who have rejected calls to “return to normal” and instead use crisis as a chance to invoke overdue change. She believes that philanthropy, specifically, must not let this opportunity pass it by.

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Annual Meeting Speaker Highlight: Lexi Paza

Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations


Nonprofits need a lot of things to run effectively, some of which are easy to take for granted – like space.

Even during a time when working from home has become far more common, nonprofits that are active in their communities still need a way to bring people – staff, board members, partners, the people they serve, and more – into a shared space.

Often, however, that can be in short supply. Small towns don’t have enough, and in big cities, it’s too expensive to rent or own. That’s where nonprofit centers come into play.

These spaces provide a place multiple nonprofits in a community can use when needed. Several already exist throughout the Southeast – examples include The Spartanburg County Foundation’s Robert Hett Chapman III Center for Philanthropy and the PATH Foundation’s Resource Center.

Foundations, however, aren’t usually in the real estate business. Thankfully, The Nonprofit Centers Network, based in Denver, has established itself as a thought leader in what it calls “social purpose real estate.”

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Update on Annual Meeting COVID Protocols

Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations


This information was updated on August 26, 2021. Further updates will be posted here as needed.

Throughout our planning for SECF's 52nd Annual Meeting, we have been keeping a close eye on the state of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Delta variant has driven a significant spike in cases, hospitalizations and deaths, particularly in the South.

We are still planning to host our in-person meeting in Asheville but are making some changes to our meeting policies to protect the health and safety of our attendees and reflect the current state of the pandemic and the latest public health guidance.

First, we are changing our cancellation policy to allow attendees to cancel and receive a full refund, minus a $50 administrative fee, by October 1 -- a month later than normal. The state of the pandemic is changing constantly and rapidly. Pushing back our cancelation deadline gives attendees the ability to make an informed decision with a better idea of what the state of the pandemic will be in November.

Second, we will now require all Annual Meeting registrants to present either proof of full vaccination or a negative COVID test from the past 48 hours before attending any Annual Meeting functions. Speakers and staff will also be subject to this requirement. We are currently exploring several options for verifying this information on-site. Anyone who cannot present this information will be directed to testing options.

We want to encourage you to receive a COVID vaccination if you have not already. Vaccines are proven to be safe and incredibly effective at preventing severe cases. They remain the best tool we have for bringing this pandemic to an end.

We are continuing to assess all aspects of the Annual Meeting to ensure it is as safe as possible while providing an enjoyable, informative and inspiring experience. We will continue to provide updates as the meeting draws closer. In the meantime, we appreciate your continued support, understanding and flexibility.

The SECF staff is also available to help answer any questions you may have. You can call us at (404) 524-0911 or email Dena Chadwick, SECF's chief operating officer, at

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Annual Meeting Speaker Highlight: Paul Shoemaker

Category: Annual Meeting, 
Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations


Before the Annual Meeting revs up for attendees online and in Asheville, foundation CEOs will have the chance to connect with one another through the CEO Forum preconference on Wednesday morning.

The CEO Forum – both the Annual Meeting offering and the annual spring event – has long focused on big topics facing philanthropic executives: strategy, leadership, vision and change. Each of these are important to this year’s CEO Forum facilitator, Paul Shoemaker.

“My job is to be a messenger and to help people understand that they can utilize their tools and talents to be the most impactful advocate they can be for the cause they care most about,” Shoemaker said in an interview promoting one of his books, Can’t Not Do. “I want to help people to recognize their power to create social good.”

Shoemaker is notable for having a particular interest in the work of philanthropy, a subject he’s written about in publications like Stanford Social Innovation Review. He has called on the sector to fundamentally change its underlying practices in order to achieve the most good.

“We have good materials (committed people, financial capital, promising solutions) but are sometimes using outdated practices that are often more grounded in an inside-out, funder-centric point of view than the external realities of the grantees, programs, and systems we seek to change,” he wrote. “We need to become far more outside in, driven by external realities and signals.”

One change that’s needed, Shoemaker writes, is greater funding for general operating support – an idea that many have advocated, but still faces resistance. He goes further, however, describing funding restricted to specific programs as “quite damaging.”

“We are using a practice that weakens the entire structure of grantees we hope to build,” Shoemaker wrote. “If we want to make sure that funds go toward an intended social outcome, we must make an agreement on the mutual outcome and let grantees decide how to best spend the funds (the means) to achieve that goal (the end).”

While Shoemaker has called on the sector to change the way it supports nonprofits financially, he also believes that other forms of philanthropic capital are just as important – if not more.

“There are so many resources that we have beyond finances, and in order to make money effective, we have to use them,” he writes. “Money absolutely matters, but anyone who says that money alone will solve the world’s problems is wrong – every aspect of change has a human face.”

Shoemaker is the founding president of Social Venture Partners International, a global network of thousands of social innovators, entrepreneurs, philanthropists, and business leaders supporting social change agents in over 40 cities and eight countries.

Along with Can’t Not Do, he is also the author of Taking Charge of Change, which shares stories of “Rebuilders” who are tackling big problems in their work.

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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.