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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Community Foundation Survey on Endowment Building Cohort

Author: Philanthropy Southeast


Unrestricted Endowment building continues to be a topic of interest for community foundations. Ralph Serpe, President and CEO, Adams County Community Foundation was the featured speaker for June's meeting of Philanthropy Southeast's Community Foundations Committee. Ralph shared "The Secrets to Building Unrestricted Endowments" and members came away with a wealth of information and an eagerness to learn more.

We are pleased to announce that Ralph Serpe has agreed to facilitate a 10-month Community Foundation Endowment Building Cohort for Philanthropy Southeast members. The Cohort will be an interactive peer group for a maximum of 14 and minimum of seven participants per group.

Please complete the survey linked below to learn more about the cohort offering and to share your interest.




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An Offer, a Request, an Opportunity and an Invitation from The Kendeda Fund

Author: Dena Kimball


As Kendeda prepares for our December 2023 spend-out after nearly 30-years and over $1 billion in grantmaking, we wanted to share a few invitations to our Southeast foundation partners, from whom we have learned so much.

First, an offer and a request. As Kendeda enters its final months of operations we hope to communicate a few final insights with peers and allies before we say goodbye. This will take the form of a handful of emails (8 or fewer between now and year end) directing you to resources, stories, insights, and lessons learned through the work we all care about and have often done in partnership. Mindful that not everyone may care to hear from us, even in this time-limited way, we are inviting you to opt-in. Once our sunset is complete, you won't receive any more emails from us. We promise! To sign up, just click here and share your email. It’s that easy!

Second, a learning opportunity. For those who may be interested, our partners at the National Center for Family Philanthropy are hosting a webinar on September 21 titled: “Is Spending Down Right for Your Philanthropy? How to Make the Decision and What to Consider in the Process.” As a foundation moving through this process, we are excited to take part in this timely conversation, and we encourage others who are interested to sign up soon!  

Third, an invitation.  For those attending Philanthropy Southeast’s Annual Meeting in Montgomery, Kendeda will be holding a farewell reception on the evening of Thursday, November 9.  Annual Meeting attendees can RSVP for this event as part of their event registration.

We appreciate you and your work!

Dena Kimball is executive director of The Kendeda Fund.

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Member Survey: Accelerating Equity Forums on Health & Housing

Author: Philanthropy Southeast


Calling all courageous leaders! Building off Philanthropy Southeast’s Accelerating Equity Learning Collaborative, we are considering convening in-person forums in 2024 focused on two of the most important issues facing communities in the Southeast: health and housing.

Accelerating Equity Forums will offer members an experience modeled on the dialogues and discussions that form a pillar of the Accelerating Equity Learning Collaborative. Each forum will take place over one day and will include:

  • Member speakers and national and regional partners providing a landscape analysis and opportunities for action
  • Small group conversations with peers, including affinity group discussions based on organization type, role, or other criteria
  • Inclusion of the intersectional issues of education and climate and how those issues affect the forum topic (health or housing)
  • Action-oriented tools and resources
  • Introduction to advocacy opportunities at the community level
  • Optional networking dinner the evening before the Forum

The forums will take place between June and September – the health forum will convene in St. Petersburg, Florida, while the housing event will be held in Atlanta.

We want to learn more about your interest in these events and what you hope to gain from them. Please share your interest via a brief survey – it should take no more than 3 minutes to complete.




Thank you for sharing your thoughts – we look forward to providing more information about the Accelerating Equity Forums soon!

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Submit Your Nominee for the 2023 Truist Promise Award!

Category: Annual Meeting, 
Author: Philanthropy Southeast


This year’s Annual Meeting will feature the presentation of the fourth annual Truist Promise Award recognizing innovative philanthropy in the region. First presented in 2020, this honor has recognized groundbreaking work that has exemplified courageous leadership while transforming communities and improving lives.

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. More than one initiative may be recognized in a single year.

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

  • 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 Philanthropy Southeast member organization, including your own, for the Promise Award. The recipient will be selected by a group of Philanthropy Southeast staff and Board members and will be recognized at the Chair’s Dinner of the 2023 Annual Meeting.

Nominations are due Friday, September 29. Click below to submit your nominee!





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Summer 2023 Issue of Inspiration Now Available!

Author: Philanthropy Southeast


The latest issue of Inspiration, Philanthropy Southeast’s quarterly magazine, is now available in print and online. Stories covered in the Summer 2023 issue include:

  • A look at Drawdown Georgia, a coalition led by five family foundations in the state, and it support for work that addresses climate change and its inequitable impacts.
  • Checkin in with the inaugural cohort of the Accelerating Equity Learning Collaborative, whose members are halfway through a journey focused on transforming themselves and their organizations.
  • A conversation with philanthropic leaders and experts on the importance of listening and feedback.
  • An interview with the Cone Health Foundation's Susan Shumaker, who discusses the foundation's role in supporting Medicaid expansion in North Carolina

This issue also includes an opening message from Janine Lee and a roundup of the latest hires and appointments from members across the region.

This year, we’ve expanded our Inspiration mailing list to better share stories of philanthropy’s work in the region. Each member organization receives at least one print copy of Inspiration, with additional copies sent to other senior leaders, program staff and Hull Fellows alumni.

This issue and previous issues can also be viewed on

If you have a story you’d like to see highlighted in Inspiration, contact David Miller, vice president of strategic communications, at

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Intern Spotlight: Siri Johnson

Author: Philanthropy Southeast


Siri Johnson, who is wrapping up a summer internship with Philanthropy Southeast this week, says her experience has widened her view of philanthropy and the work it does in the region.

“I came into the internship with a fairly narrow idea of how foundations start and what kind of work they do, but I’ve quickly realized that there has been a lot of innovation and growth in philanthropy,” said Siri, who obtained her internship through Emory University’s Ethics and Servant Leadership program. “One of the things I’ve learned that’s surprised me most is the wide range of organizations and work that falls under the umbrella of philanthropy.”

Throughout her time with the Philanthropy Southeast team, Siri has supported staff members on various projects while also attending programs in the Atlanta area, including an Atlanta Corporate Donors lunch attended by the metro area’s corporate philanthropy leaders. Siri also met members from outside Atlanta by sitting in on this year’s Community Foundation Boot Camp, which was offered virtually.

“In all these cases, it was inspiring to see how committed the members of Philanthropy Southeast are to making the region a better place, and the collaboration that is coming out of these spaces,” Siri said.

Siri, an international studies major, said the internship with Philanthropy Southeast initially appealed to her because of her interest in work that makes a positive impact – prior to this summer, she had interned with the U.S. Embassy in Jordan and held multiple roles coordinating volunteer work around Emory’s Oxford, Georgia, campus.

“I’m interested in exploring careers that have a positive impact, and I wanted to learn more about the sector,” she said. “I was particularly interested in getting a better understanding of the issues impacting the region and how foundations and other philanthropic organizations were tackling those issues.”

Heading into her junior year at Emory, Siri said she’s looking forward to exploring Atlanta more and getting involved via the school’s service organizations.

“I’m still exploring different ideas of what I’d like to pursue after graduation,” she said. “I’m interested in exploring the nonprofit and philanthropy world more, as well as looking at other areas where I can make a positive impact.”

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Public Policy Update - July 2023

Author: Philanthropy Southeast


Philanthropy Southeast regularly provides members with 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


Alabama Legislature Refuses to Create New Black-Majority District, Defying SCOTUS

In early June, a 5-4 Supreme Court majority ruled that Alabama lawmakers violated the Voting Rights Act by passing a congressional district map that included only one Black-majority district out of seven in a state where more than 25 percent of residents are Black.

However, when lawmakers convened this month to draft a new map, the plan passed into law still only included one Black-majority district. Republicans hold both governor’s office in Alabama and supermajorities in both chambers of the Legislature.

“If you think about where we were, the Supreme Court ruling was 5-4, so there’s just one judge that needed to see something different. And I think the movement that we have and what we’ve come to compromise on today gives us a good shot,” House Speaker Nathaniel Ledbetter said, according to the Associated Press.

In 2022, a three-judge panel issued a ruling, upheld by the Supreme Court, calling on the state to create a map with two districts where “Black voters either comprise a voting-age majority” or something close.

The map passed by the Legislature will have to be approved by a federal court, which will hold a hearing on it next month.

The Supreme Court’s ruling in the case, Allen v. Milligan, is likely to result in challenges to congressional maps in other Southeastern states, including Louisiana and Georgia.


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July 2023 Research Update: Highlights from Recent Reports in the Field

Category: Research & Data, 
Author: Philanthropy Southeast


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.


Philanthropy and HBCUs: Foundation Funding to Historically Black Colleges and Universities
ABFE, Candid (2023)
This report, developed in partnership between ABFE and Candid, examines U.S. foundation funding to historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) in the United States. It explores the relationship between foundations and HBCUs through a quantitative analysis of Candid's grants data and qualitative interviews with HBCU staff, students and funders. The study showed that large U.S. foundations steadily decreased their support of HBCUs between 2002 and 2019. They awarded $65 million to HBCUs in 2002; by 2019, giving decreased 30 percent to $45 million (not adjusting for inflation). In contrast, the average Ivy League institution received 178 times more foundation funding than the average HBCU. The report also finds that HBCUs received, on average, about two-thirds of what foundations paid out to similarly situated institutions.


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Leading with Courage Spotlight: Increased Political Polarization

Author: Scott Westcott


This post is the first in a series that continues to explore the themes and ideas in our report, Leading with Courage: Reshaping Southern Philanthropy for New Era.

The 2024 presidential election is still 18 months away, but already the temperature is rising.

With a potential rematch looming between President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump, America’s deep political divide will be on full display for the foreseeable future.

The implications of growing political polarization on Southern philanthropy, and the communities it serves, was one of the emerging trends highlighted in Leading with Courage, a recently released report by Philanthropy Southeast.

Polarization touches nearly every aspect of American society – and it is increasingly affecting the work of philanthropic organizations. Polarization has challenged foundations on how to frame and execute on equity initiatives, in some instances leading to a chilling effect on equity training programs that had gained momentum in the wake of the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer in May 2020.

Molly Talbot-Metz, president of the Mary Black Foundation in Spartanburg, South Carolina, notes that nearly every aspect of the health foundation’s work – advocating for preventative practices related to the pandemic, Medicaid expansion or access to contraception – has increasingly been viewed through a political lens.

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2022 Annual Report & Member Survey Highlights: Living Our Values, Advancing Our Mission

Category: Announcements, 
Author: Philanthropy Southeast


Today, Philanthropy Southeast released its 2022 Annual Report. Read the introduction from President & CEO Janine Lee, then view the full report, including highlights of our latest Member Survey!

I’ve had the fortune to serve as Philanthropy Southeast’s president and CEO for more than a decade – while we have experienced many high points during that time, 2022 stands out as a testament to the strength of our member community and our commitment to our vision and mission.

Of course, the cancellation of the Annual Meeting following an evacuation order is one of the first things we all remember from last year. The disappointment our staff and Board felt in that

moment, however, quickly gave way to humility and gratitude as we heard expressions of sympathy and support from scores of members and partners. Their response turned what could have been a crisis into a demonstration of strength and resilience.

The inspiring conclusion to 2022 also serves as validation of our work to strengthen Southern philanthropy, to call our members into courageous leadership, and to stay true to our core values of integrity, excellence, equity, respect and courage.

That said, even before the Annual Meeting we had plenty of evidence we were on the right track. The dozens of new members that joined us in 2022, the astounding success of our Sustainability Campaign, and the incredible levels of engagement we saw throughout the year – with over 90 percent of our members participating in programs or committee service – are only a few of the many ways our members showed support for our work.

While there is undoubtedly much work ahead – and many challenges to address – I am more confident than ever that Philanthropy Southeast and its members are positioned to not only advance philanthropy in our region, but also to strengthen our region’s communities and improve countless lives.


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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.