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President's Recap - September 2016

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Dear Colleagues,

On the heels of our biggest event of the year, our 2016 Annual Conference, SCG's membership and staff are more energized and inspired to create positive change than ever! The conference was the biggest event in our 43-year history, and it sent a powerful message about the bold path forward for grantmakers in our region.

Please continue reading for highlights from the conference, our recent joint blog post with GEO on collaboration, and a brand new set of California philanthropy data available from Foundation Center. You can also check our News Page or visit us on Twitter and Facebook for the latest updates on SCG and our members. 

Our sold-out 2016 Annual Conference on September 19 brought together 600 philanthropy and community leaders to "Be the Change," at what many participants have told us was the most diverse and powerful SCG conference they have ever attended!

"There are no words to convey the power and stunning ideas that you presented to all of us at the Annual Conference.  I was only one among the crowd who was knocked out by the dynamic vision and bold imagination that gripped the conference from the first moments and held us enthralled throughout the day."  - Shirley Fredricks, Vice President, The Lawrence Welk Family Foundation

Our morning plenary, Champions of Change, kicked off the day with ideas that challenged us all to look closely at how we work. And while candid conversations about equity are not always comfortable, 92% of conference survey respondents shared that this is exactly the kind of conversation we should be having in the funder community.

“I think that the issue on the table here is equity. Whether you consider it social equity or you think about it as political and economic, equity and opportunity really are the most pressing issues of our time.” - Don Howard, President and CEO, The James Irvine Foundation

Linda Sarsour, Arab American Association of NY; activist/artist Bryonn Bain & his band; Carmen Rojas, The Workers Lab; Jordan Brooks, White House Council on Women and Girls; and Forest Whitaker, UNESCO Special Envoy.

Please enjoy these resources and highlights from the conference!

Here are just a few take-aways that we heard from SCG members about how they plan to build  equity into their work:

  • Go deeper to learn about criminal justice reform. Visit a prison to understand the realities and challenges of changing the system. Foundations and companies can also "ban the box" in hiring practices to give formerly incarcerated individuals the opportunity to succeed.
  • Look beyond how your foundation spends its 5% payout. Is the other 95% of your endowment invested responsibly, in ways that complement your philanthropic values and goals?
  • Look through a gender/racial equity lens as you grant, hire, and invest.
  • Build relationships based on trust and mutual respect. You can't create transformational change without strong connections to other funders, nonprofits, the public sector, and community advocates. Are you including grantees in ways that build true partnership and grow leaders?
  • It's okay to be uncomfortable! Explore strategies you haven't tried that are outside your typical scope of work. Consider nonprofit partners whose ideas are bold and promising, but not necessarily "tried and true." Give grantees the flexibility of general operating support.

Jennifer Li Shen & Way-Ting Chen, Blue Garnet; Crystal Crawford, Richard Tate, & Ismael Venegas, The California Wellness Foundation; Raul Bustillos, Millie Yamaki, & Stephanie Lomibao, Bank of America; Kate Seely, Northern California Grantmakers, Kristen Scott Kennedy, Grantmakers for Effective Organizations; Chris Essel, SCG.

Of course, the complex challenges and questions around equity cannot be fully explored during a one-day conference. These sessions sparked many important conversations, and the team at SCG will take the themes and burning questions from speakers and participants alike to shape our programming for the coming year. We look forward to working with SCG members and other community leaders to continue these substantive conversations and work toward solutions for our region and beyond. 

The more time I spend immersed in the world of philanthropy, the more I realize how challenging it is for those of us in the social sector to fully understand the ecosystems in which we work. One of the requests we hear most often at SCG is for  current, authoritative data to inform philanthropic strategies and decisions. That's why I’m thrilled to announce the launch of California Foundation Stats! Finding key statistics for California philanthropy just got a lot easier for all of us. 

Click the image above to access California Foundation Stats.

Created by Foundation Center in partnership with SCG, NCG, and SDG, and with support from The James Irvine Foundation, this free online tool offers hundreds of ready-made charts on philanthropy data, including the size, scope, and giving priorities of California foundations and data tables for nine regions across the state. What’s particularly exciting about California Foundation Stats is that every chart will be updated in real time as Foundation Center receives grants information from funders. The strength of this wonderful resource, as always, depends on the quality of the information that we collectively share. We've been working to get as many funders as possible to Get on the Map, so if your organization is not currently e-reporting giving data, I strongly encourage you to start now!

>> Read my complete blog post on California Foundation Stats.


Collaboration—it’s been on our minds a lot lately. That's why, through our exciting partnership with Grantmakers for Effective Organizations (GEO) as well as Northern California Grantmakers and San Diego Grantmakers, we recently published a joint blog post on this crucial practice. We shared how across the nonprofit and philanthropic sectors many organizations are throwing aside the “go-it-alone” mentality in favor of working together to address complex problems. In a recent GEO survey, funders said their primary motivations for collaboration were to achieve greater impact (99%); tap into the expertise of other grantmakers (91%); inform their organization’s strategy (87%); assess community needs (80%); and minimize the burden on grantees (76%).

This fall, we’re diving deeper into the conversation about collaboration through five workshops across the state offered in coordination with GEO, NCG, and SDG. We hope you join us for our local workshops being held in Orange County on November 2nd and in Los Angeles on November 3rd.

>> Click here to read the full blog post and get our favorite recent examples of innovative state-wide collaborative efforts.

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

I hope to see you at these upcoming events:

Thank you to the many SCG members, nonprofits, public sector leaders, national organizations, and social innovators who lent their time, energy, and expertise to the Annual Conference and our recent programs—we truly could not have done it without you! 


Christine Essel
President and CEO
Southern California Grantmakers