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President's Message - November 2017

Friday, November 3, 2017

Dear Colleagues,

This month, in addition to reflections on the philanthropy sector and updates on SCG’s ongoing programs and initiatives, I wanted to take a step back and share with you some big-picture work that we’ve been doing with our staff and board. Like you, our members, we always aspire to operate with as much clarity and impact as possible. To that end, we recently took a fresh look at our organizational mission and values, and I am very pleased to present you with the results. 

SCG has grown significantly over the past four years since I started working here – both in our membership and in the scope of our work. Recognizing a need to re-examine, re-define, and re-commit to our core identity, we engaged strategic consultants to work with our staff and board on this task. The whole process started at our staff retreat this past spring; since then, there has been a great deal of thoughtful, collaborative back-and-forth between the staff and board. The work culminated last month, when the SCG board signed off on this statement of our mission and values.

Mission. Southern California Grantmakers’ mission is to champion effective philanthropy and advance collaborative efforts that create meaningful change for our communities.

Values. Our values are at the heart of the SCG community. They guide our strategy, inform our day-to-day work, and move us to take action.

  • Collaboration. Everything we do centers around creating community: whether it is with our members, strategic partners, or leaders in the nonprofit, private, or public sectors. We raise up and support opportunities for our members to share, learn, and work together as a way to strengthen and complement each other’s efforts.

  • Leadership. We encourage dialogue and action around the challenges that our sector exists to address, and create opportunities for members to have a voice within and beyond the funder community, as well as through civic engagement and public policy.

  • Learning. We bring to our work a sense of curiosity and desire to continually grow and improve as an organization. We enable our members to continually sharpen their professional skills and knowledge—and to share their skills and knowledge with one another as a dynamic learning community.

  • Inclusion. We respect differing viewpoints across our organization, membership, and our broader society, and believe that diversity of ideas and experiences leads to better strategies for our sector. We recognize that in order to address our greatest challenges and advance equity, we need to counter existing power dynamics by seeking out less-often-heard leaders and community voices to inform our work. 

  • Impact. We bring strategic thinking to all aspects of our work, helping philanthropy and its partners make a positive and lasting difference in our communities through their giving, expertise, networks, convening power, advocacy, and freedom to take risks.

As President and CEO of SCG, I take very seriously my responsibility to lead an organization that constantly strives to live up to these values in executing our mission – and to live up to the expectations of our members, who are values-driven leaders in their own right. From our programs and public policy advocacy to our everyday interactions with you, the SCG staff and I will do our best to live these values of collaboration, leadership, learning, inclusion, and impact. As always, thank you for being on this journey with us!

Please continue reading below for updates and news from our membership. You can also check our News Page for the latest on SCG and philanthropy in Southern California.  

In This Post: 

2017 Fundamentals Program Trains 66 New Grantmakers  / Public Policy Update  / Join Team SCG for United Way's Homewalk 2017 / Program Round-Up  /  Looking Ahead


One of the truly exciting aspects of our work is welcoming new colleagues to the world of philanthropy. And one of the best ways for us to do that is through our signature program, Fundamentals of Effective Grantmakingwhich took place over four days in October. This program provided an unparalleled opportunity for staff who are new to the field to learn primary grantmaking competencies and for seasoned professionals to revisit their core grantmaking skills. 


Participants honed their skills on everything from assessing grant proposals and managing relationships with grantees to understanding financial statements and practicing ethics in grantmaking. The workshop also provided excellent opportunities for participants to network.   

At SCG, we believe strongly in supporting a highly-skilled, well-informed, and deeply networked philanthropic community. Programs like Fundamentals provide grantmakers with the essential knowledge they need to maximize their effectiveness and impact. 

Many thanks to all the peer leaders who taught this year. And a warm congratulations to the 66 members of our grantmaking community who completed this year's program.



On October 23, we were very fortunate to have State Senator Ben Allen (D-Santa Monica) speak with SCG members as a part of our ongoing Public Policy Speaker Series. In this interactive conversation with Tara Roth, SCG board member and President of the Goldhirsh Foundation, Senator Allen talked about a number of topics, including K-12 and post-secondary public education, confronting budget deficits and rainy day funds, and how California is leading efforts on climate change. Senator Allen also expressed interest in creating stronger partnerships between public and philanthropic entities, acknowledging that philanthropies should not just be "ATMs" and could play a critical role in driving innovation where public agencies have failed to do so.

(left to right) Chris Essel, Southern California Grantmakers, State Senator Ben Allen (D-Santa Monica), Tara Roth, Goldhirsh Foundation

As many of you know, the U.S. House of Representatives recently passed a budget to allow for the expedited consideration of tax reform legislation. You can view our analysis of the President's proposed tax reform plan here. For more analyses like this, please sign up for our Public Policy Roundup

We are also pleased to welcome a new intern to the SCG public policy team, Sean Tan. Sean is a Master’s in Public Policy (MPP) candidate at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs, where his academic focus areas include immigration, criminal justice reform, and urban and social policies.

SCG is joining the United Way of Greater Los Angeles in asking you to put on your walking shoes and gather on November 18 at Grand Park for HomeWalk 2017, an annual 5K family run/walk to end homelessness in LA County. Since 2011, the cross-sector initiative Home for Good has helped house over 40,000 of our homeless neighbors. However, there are still nearly 57,000 people on our streets on any given night. 

SCG staff and leadership are proud to support the efforts of our longtime member organization United Way, and we invite you to join us at this year's HomeWalk, either as part of Team SCG or with a team of your own.

Don't forget to register today. We hope to see you there!


Here are some additional SCG events we've hosted in the past few weeks:

  • At the Innovation in Health Care Delivery Systems program, we heard from health care professionals leading efforts to address emergency room overcrowding and bridge the gap between housing and health care services for homeless patients.
  • We teamed up with Funders Together to End Homelessness – Los Angeles Network for a hands-on learning exercise on Pay for Success and Impact Investing. This interactive session was designed to give participants an opportunity to experience some of the roles, conversations, and considerations that happen as part of a Pay for Success transaction.
  • SCG members joined us for a discussion about equity, justice, and access in the Evolving Environmental Movement in Southern California.
  • Co-hosted by the American Red Cross Los Angeles Region and Southern California Grantmakers, The Refugee Crisis: How Funders Can Help program provided a forum to discuss the continuing refugee crisis and how nonprofits, individuals, and the philanthropic community could respond.
  • The California Criminal Justice Funders Group convened a panel of field leaders who are creating a statewide coalition of providers of Transformative Prison Work in California's 35 prisons. 
  • At the Census 2020: Understanding the Risks and Implications of Undercounting LA’s Young Children program, members heard from experts in state government, philanthropy, and the nonprofit sector about opportunities for collaboration and strategies to reach and accurately count families with young children in the upcoming 2020 census.

As the end of the year approaches, we are not slowing down yet! SCG is busy planning programs and conferences for you for the rest of this year and into 2018.

Thank you for the heart and dedication you bring to our Southern California communities during this holiday season—and all throughout the year! 

Christine Essel
President and CEO
Southern California Grantmakers

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