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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Program Officers: Foundations’ Cultural and Strategic Messengers

Author: Allen Smart


The foundation program officer has always had a difficult role. Part gatekeeper, part bureaucracy manager, part cheerleader – and now increasingly responsible for building collaboratives, promoting equity and engendering trust. 

At their best, they can hold all these skills concurrently. At their least effective, they gravitate to one competency over all others and muddle through their tasks without meeting the demands of their internal or external stakeholders. The result: program officers that aren’t providing value to their grantees, communities or foundation leadership. They are too often just getting by.

The evolution of the program officer role has followed similar shifts in private philanthropy. Beginning as bank trust officers in the early days of philanthropy and growing to influential issue experts and movement leaders in the 60s and 70s. The 80s and 90s saw the explosion of foundation staffing, process and layers of decision making. Many program officers became primarily process navigators. 

When I (with my colleagues) coined the term “Program Officer of the 21st Century” for a Southeastern Council of Foundations (now Philanthropy Southeast) conference presentation a few years back, the branding was meant to reflect the need to move program officers to a more community-engaged listening and facilitative model, in an effort to diminish the inherent power dynamics in the funder-nonprofit relationship. The change also tasked the program officer with responsibilities that extended far past grantmaking — to using the social and facilitative capital of foundations. This switch from steward to activator was, and still isn’t easy, for many. The challenge is how to best support this more active and nuanced role?

For decades, philanthropy supporting organizations, sometimes described as foundation affinity groups, have organized various trainings under such titles as Foundations 101 and the Art and Science of Grantmaking – brief general exposure curriculum meant to give those new to foundations a common language. Concurrently, there developed a series of leadership and peer support programs for those younger in their career; those in specific operational roles or those from specific demographic backgrounds, as examples. What didn’t develop, however, was any training or support for the evolving role of the program officer. Nothing to respond to the basic questions of “How Can I Be Good at My Job” or “What does a Successful Program Officer Look Like and How to Get There”? 

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Public Policy Update - June 2022

Author: Philanthropy Southeast


Each month, Philanthropy Southeast provides members with monthly updates on the latest public policy developments in Washington and state capitols around the region, analyzing their possible impact on the charitable sector. If you would like to see an issue featured in a future Public Policy Update, contact Jaci Bertrand, Philanthropy Southeast's vice president of member engagement, at


Powerful House Committee Adds Another Southeast Member

The House Ways & Means Committee – one of the most powerful committees in Congress, and the one responsible for writing tax policies that impact the nonprofit sector – has added a new member from the Southeast region.

Rep. David Kustoff, a Tennessee Republican, was named to the panel on June 9. He represents a district that begins outside Memphis and encompasses the western end of the state.

"It is an honor to be selected to serve on the oldest committee in the House of Representatives, the House Committee on Ways and Means. As the only Republican from the Mid-South on this committee, West Tennessee and the Mid-South region will have a seat at the table on issues such as taxes, trade, and healthcare” Kustoff said in a statement.

In addition to serving on the full committee, Kustoff was also appointed to serve on the Subcommittees on Social Security, Worker and Family Support, and Oversight.

He joins several other members from the region on the committee, including Vern Buchanan (R-FL), Tom Rice (R-SC), Terri Sewell (D-AL), Drew Ferguson (R-GA), Donald Beyer (D-VA), Gregory Murphy (R-NC), Stephanie Murphy (D-FL) and Stacey Plaskett (D-VI).


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Standing With Florida’s People and Communities

Author: Philanthropy Southeast


Registration for this year’s Annual Meeting is opening this week – and we look forward to sharing all the details of our agenda with our members. Before that, however, we wanted to address concerns around our meeting’s location in Amelia Island, Florida.

This spring, Florida enacted multiple pieces of legislation that target and isolate people who have historically faced discrimination and marginalization while also seeking to limit discussion of related issues in the classroom. These include the measure widely known as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, as well as HB 7, which bans educators from teaching certain subjects related to race.

While Philanthropy Southeast has not taken a position on these specific bills, we are deeply alarmed by these measures and their potential to harm educators, students and their families. Both bills appear designed to create a chilling effect that will limit the discussion of issues that have historically not received the attention they deserve. 

In response to the passage of these laws, some organizations have responded by moving or canceling events slated to take place in Florida. We have also heard calls to move our own Annual Meeting from the state. While we understand and respect this perspective, we are still planning to hold the Annual Meeting in Florida, for a few reasons.

First, many Philanthropy Southeast members, in Florida and beyond, work hard every day to support organizations that serve the LGBTQ community and communities of color. The Annual Meeting provides a safe space for members concerned about these issues to share insights and learn from one another. We will not deprive our members of this opportunity – this applies especially to our members in Florida who may not be able to attend a meeting in another location as easily.

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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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New Titles on the Philanthropy Southeast Lending Library

Author: Stephen Sherman


We’ve recently expanded our Lending Library to include the titles below and much more. Philanthropy Southeast members have exclusive access to our virtual collection offering e-books and audiobooks on best practices in philanthropy, advancing equity, and social sector leadership. Visit our website to get started today!


The Southernization of America: A Story of Democracy in the Balance by Frye Gaillard and Cynthia Tucker

In 1974 John Egerton published his seminal work, The Americanization of Dixie. Pulitzer Prize-winner Cynthia Tucker and award-winning author Frye Gaillard carry Egerton’s thesis forward in The Southernization of America, a compelling series of linked essays considering the role of the South in shaping America’s current political and cultural landscape. They dive deeper, examining the morphing of the Southern strategy of Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan into the Republican Party of today, the racial backlash against President Obama, family separation on our southern border, the rise of the Christian right, the white supremacist riots in Charlottesville, the death of George Floyd, and the attack on our nation’s capitol. They find hope in the South too, a legacy rooted in the civil rights years that might ultimately lead the nation on the path to redemption. Tucker and Gaillard bring a multiracial perspective and years of political reporting to bear on a critical moment in American history, a time of racial reckoning and democracy under siege.


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Public Policy Update - May 2022

Category: Public Policy, 
Author: Philanthropy Southeast


Each month, Philanthropy Southeast provides members with monthly updates on the latest public policy developments in Washington and state capitols around the region, analyzing their possible impact on the charitable sector. If you would like to see an issue featured in a future Public Policy Update, contact Jaci Bertrand, Philanthropy Southeast's vice president of member engagement, at


Bill to Create Nonprofit Office in the White House Introduced 

On April 26, Reps. Betty McCollum (D-MN) and Fred Upton (R-MI) introduced the Nonprofit Sector Strength and Partnership Act, which would create a new nonprofit-focused office in the White House. The legislation aims to improve coordination between the federal government and the nonprofit sector, and the nonprofit office would make policy recommendations, coordinate the release of data on the sector gathered by federal agencies, and seek to make it easier for nonprofits to access federal grants, among other activities.

The legislation has significant support from many in the charitable sector, including Philanthropy Southeast, which joined with over 500 other organizations to sign onto a letter endorsing the bill.  

When Rep. McCollum introduced similar legislation in 2010, concerns were raised by some in the sector that a new White House office could turn into a regulatory body and politicize nonprofits depending on which party holds the White House. Similar concerns are being raised with the current bill, with some arguing this type of office would imperil the independence of the nonprofit sector.

If no action is taken on the bill this year, it is worth noting that Rep. Upton is retiring at the end of this Congress, so proponents of the bill will likely need to find a new GOP lead sponsor.

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Spring 2022 Issue of Inspiration Magazine Now Available

Author: Philanthropy Southeast


Philanthropy Southeast members now have access to the latest issue of Inspiration, our quarterly magazine featuring stories of collaboration and innovation in Southern philanthropy, along with articles on emerging trends and best practices. This issue also features a new design reflecting the changes we’ve made following the adoption of our new name!

Articles in this issue include:

  • A look at the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation’s big bet on equity, including significant commitments for supporting racial equity and nonprofits led by people of color.
  • A piece from the Dogwood Health Trust on its work to bring more affordable housing to western North Carolina and how these efforts tie into its health-based mission.
  • The story of Philanthropy Southeast’s new Advocacy Agenda, which provides a way for the organization and its members to engage in conversations on issues affecting Southern communities, including economic mobility and strengthening democracy.

A print copy of Inspiration is on its way to each Philanthropy Southeast member office. In addition, all members can view a PDF version of this issue, and past issues, on our website now.

If you have an idea for an article in a future issue of Inspiration, contact David Miller, our vice president of strategic communications, at

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Southeastern Soundings – Extended Edition (Spring 2022)

Tags: Inspiration 
Author: Philanthropy Southeast


Southeastern Soundings, a regular feature of our Inspiration magazine, highlights new hires, promotions and board appointments by our members. For this issue, we had more announcements than would fit in our print edition, so we’re publishing an extended roundup online. Congratulations to all the people mentioned here!

If your organization has welcomed a new staff member or trustee, or promoted an existing staff member, we want to know! Please email the information to David Miller at


Jennifer Gray is the new executive director of the Joseph S. Bruno Charitable Foundation, taking over from Jera Stribling, who has stepped down following 26 years at the foundation. Gray was most recently program manager at the Daniel Foundation of Alabama. Stribling will continue to serve as executive director of Alabama Giving.

The Duke Endowment has elected Allyson K. Duncan to its board. Duncan served as a judge on the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals from 2003 until her retirement in 2019.

Dr. Eduardo Ochoa, a pediatrician, Dr. Jack Porter, a retired dentist, and Lisa John-Adams of Nucor Steel Arkansas were recently elected to the Arkansas Community Foundation’s board of directors. The foundation has also hired Annetta Tirey, formerly with the NorthWest Arkansas Community College Foundation, as program officer.

The EyeSight Foundation of Alabama has named Barbara Evers as executive director, succeeding Torrey DeKeyser. Evers most recently worked at the accounting firm of Truitt Tingle Paramore & Argent.

The Harvest Foundation board of directors has three new members: Travis Hodge, Sharon Ortiz-Garcíaand Anne Smith. Smith is the chief administrative officer and president of domestic upholstery at Hooker Furniture. Hodge is the human resources director for the City of Martinsville. Ortiz-García is the senior epidemiologist at the Martinsville office for the Virginia Department of Health.

Sara Bell is the new president and CEO of the Polk County Community Foundation. A co-owner of two local businesses, she had previously served on the foundation’s board.

The Foundation for a Healthy St. Petersburg has welcomed four new board members: Michèle Alexandre, dean and professor at the Stetson University College of Law; Stacy Conroy, attorney and Florida Holocaust Museum board member; Kevin Sneed, dean of USF’s Taneja College of Pharmacy; and Nichelle Threadgill, chief medical officer at the Community Health Centers of Pinellas.

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April 2022 Research Update: Highlights from Recent Reports in the Field

Category: Research & Data, 
Author: Stephen Sherman


Philanthropy Southeast’s online Research Library is regularly updated with the latest reports relevant to Southern philanthropy. Members can browse over 500 research reports, websites, case studies, and other resources we have cultivated to help funders stay abreast of trends in the field and learn about emerging best practices in philanthropy. 

Below are some of the key findings and highlights of the newest additions to the Research Library. If you would like to suggest a resource or have other feedback, contact Stephen Sherman, Philanthropy Southeast’s Director of Research and Data, at or (404) 524-0911.


11 Trends in Philanthropy for 2022
Johnson Center at Grand Valley State University (2022)
This white paper from the Johnson Center for Philanthropy at Grand Valley State University projects 11 key trends for the social sector for 2022. Each trend is highlighted in an essay written by a faculty member or expert in the field. Key trends for 2022 include the proliferation of cryptocurrency; reopening of Pell Grants for incarcerated individuals; growth in animal-focused philanthropy; increasing involvement of philanthropy in culture wars; innovations in talent investment; further attention to the decline in household giving; donors of color at the leading edge of new forms of giving; expanding definitions of philanthropy and philanthropists; a new era of engagement with indigenous communities; the rise of data philanthropy; and growing skepticism of social media in the sector.


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Share Your Grants Data with Candid to Provide a Complete Picture of Southern Philanthropy

Category: Research & Data, 
Author: Stephen Sherman


As a partner on the Get on the Map campaign, Philanthropy Southeast works with Candid to promote data sharing in the philanthropic sector. Candid recently launched its annual data collection campaign, and we invite our members to join this effort by sharing grants data through the eReporting program.

By sharing your grants data with Candid, your organization will help inform resources like the Southern Trends Report and interactive tools like Foundation Maps. Candid data is also helping us track the philanthropic response to COVID-19 and funding to advance racial equity. These resources are used daily by your peers to assess gaps in funding, seek out potential partners, and determine where and how to target their investments.

Your participation is also critical to ensuring that researchers, sector leaders, policymakers, and others have the most complete and accurate picture of Southern philanthropy’s contributions. Delays in IRS processing of Forms 990-PF have made eReporting an even more vital source of current data on foundation grantmaking. Sharing your grants data directly with Candid also offers the opportunity to add enhanced descriptors that ensure grants are presented accurately in Candid’s many resources. We need your help to provide the full picture of philanthropy in our region.

If your organization is already an eReporting partner, thank you! You should have received instructions from Candid for reporting FY21 and FY22 data. Please remember to share your data by June 30, 2022.

If your organization is new to eReporting, it’s easy to share your grants data. You can follow the instructions on this page, or simply email your grants data to

As an added benefit, organizations that participate in eReporting receive an interactive map that visualizes their foundation’s grantmaking (see a sample here). Grants data is also incorporated into our regional giving map, available exclusively to Philanthropy Southeast members.

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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.