Category: A Region United

“Grantmaker, Grantmaker, make me a grant!”

Thank you to everyone who participated in our 2011 annual meeting yesterday – especially the WRAG Chorus, pictured above! We’ll have plenty of fun things to share from the meeting over the next few weeks. Before everybody takes a break for Thanksgiving, we want to make sure you have another chance to hear the luncheon song – Grantmaker.

If you’re inclined to sing along, here’s a copy of the lyrics.

Click to play Grantmaker

A Parody for the WRAG’s 2011 Annual Meeting
Lyrics: Ken Rynne, 2011
Music: “Matchmaker” from Fiddler on the Roof (Buck & Harnick, 1964)

Give to the Max Day – Virtual Lemonade!

NOTE: The following post was originally published on the Region Forward blog.

Give to the Max Day – Virtual Lemonade!

November 8th, 2011

Tamara Lucas Copeland, President of the Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers (WRAG)

The continuing instability of the markets looks like a yo-yo – up and down, up and down. Tightening budgets are leading to significant reductions in government funding. And the expected wind-down of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae’s local giving is reshaping the corporate grantmaking landscape in our region.

With all those economic “lemons,” now comes a creative effort to make virtual lemonade in metropolitan Washington.

Tomorrow, Wednesday, November 9, thousands of area nonprofits will unite to raise millions of dollars as part of the first annual Give to the Max Day: Greater Washington (, a massive one-day regional online fundraiser to support local programs. Nonprofits that serve the Greater Washington region will ask donors to display their generosity in a region-wide competition to raise as much money and as many supporters as possible.

For 24 hours, starting at midnight tonight, nonprofits will drive their supporters online to donate, with the goal of getting at least 10,000 people to support their favorite regional charity and raising more than $3 million in donations and grants in a single day!

Give to the Max Day: Greater Washington was created by online fundraiser Razoo, and organized and supported by The Community Foundation for the National Capital Region and United Way of the National Capital Area. The other six members of the “Eight Neighbors” group—an alliance of local leading nonprofit and civic organizations have also come together to support this event: Center for Nonprofit Advancement, Greater Washington Board of Trade, Leadership Greater Washington, Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, Nonprofit Roundtable of Greater Washington, and the Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers.

These and other nonprofits will use their social media outlets to attract donors and build a new donor base of tech-savvy millennials.

Now, there are a few things that you can do to make this event a phenomenal success in our region. Encourage your friends to give. Encourage your family to give. And, most importantly, you can lead by example and make a personal gift to the nonprofit of your choice.

I plan to give to my favorite charity on November 9via Will you?

New report from 8 Neighbors on the future of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s giving in the Greater Washington region

Today, the 8 Neighbors group – of which the Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers (WRAG) is one member – released a report commissioned to George Mason University’s Center for Regional Analysis on the future of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s giving in our area.

Following the two corporations’ placement into federal conservatorship and their consequent reductions in local giving, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac: What Does Their Future Mean for the Washington Region’s Nonprofit Community? explores the likelihood that the two will end their philanthropic funding in the next few years. Collectively, they have given more than $100 million to 500 local nonprofits in the last four years alone and their remission as corporate philanthropic giants in the region creates a necessity for new leadership.

In a letter to the community that prefaces the report, the 8 Neighbors say,

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are so much more than check book charitable givers. They are shining examples of what it means to be an effective, engaged and valued corporate citizen. We urge other companies to continue the philanthropic model Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac developed. Our neighbors need you in our region. And we need your leadership for our country.

Chuck Bean of the Nonprofit Roundtable of Greater Washington, another member of 8 Neighbors, reaffirms the point to the Washington Post (10/3):

“This would be hard enough in any situation, but in times of the most sweeping economic downturn in generations, it will be tough,” Bean said. “It is going to hurt, and at some point we’re going to need to stop wringing our hands and figure out what we’re going to do. There are some corporations thriving at this time, and this is really their moment to shine.”

WRAG’s president, Tamara Copeland, is optimistic:

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have made a huge impact with their funding dollars. Perhaps more importantly though, they have have served as models for engaged corporate philanthropic leadership. Now it is time for additional leaders to step up.

A third of WRAG’s membership consists of corporate funders committed to improving our region, and I’m confident that this community will answer the call.

Read the full report.

8 Neighbors consists of the Center for Nonprofit Advancement, Community Foundation for the National Capital Region, Greater Washington Board of Trade, Leadership Greater Washington, Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, the Nonprofit Roundtable of Greater Washington, United Way of the National Capital Area, and Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers.

Who Are We? Where Are We? What is Our Name?

By Tamara Copeland, President (@WRAGprez)

“Greater Washington” says Jim Dinegar of the Greater Washington Board of Trade. “Ditto,” say Tim Kime of Leadership Greater Washington and Chuck Bean of the Nonprofit Roundtable of Greater Washington.

“Metropolitan Washington” says Dave Robertson of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments.

“National Capital Area” says Bill Hanbury of the United Way of the National Capital Area. “Not exactly,” says Terri Freeman of the Community Foundation for the National Capital Region.

And, overheard while my teenage son controlled the radio: “The DMV”? The District, Maryland and Virginia for those over age 17 not in the know.

So what is our name? The point is a serious one. If we can’t name it, we can’t claim it. Would a shared identity be an important step in moving us even closer to shared actions on behalf of our region? What do you think? What should be the name of OUR region?

Are Infrastructure Organizations Still Needed in Today’s Networked Society? YES!

By Tamara Copeland, President (@WRAGprez)

When we stand outside of the Jefferson Memorial in Washington DC and gaze across the Potomac at Ronald Reagan National Airport in Northern Virginia, we sometimes think about the congestion on the 14th St. Bridge or the constant repairs, but rarely do we think about the inherent value of the bridge or its place in an almost 50,000 mile interstate highway system. We take for granted this important structure that directly connects two jurisdictions and facilitates a continuous flow along the I-95 North-South corridor.

Just like Dwight Eisenhower’s vision of the value of an interstate highway system, countless other leaders have envisioned and created systems of connectivity – some national, like the NAACP, the American Bar Association, or Voices for America’s Children – and others local or regional, like WRAG, the Council of Governments or the Nonprofit Roundtable. These infrastructure organizations have evolved top down and bottom up. Individual leaders have seen the merit of connecting the dots and the dots, so to speak, have seen the value of being connected. The resulting organizations define standards for their respective fields, serve as watchdogs, advocate for improvements, train practitioners and generally work to ensure that their members do the best job possible on the work that they do.

Some suggest that thanks to the advent of the internet and social media – and the sheer volume of information available through both – the era of infrastructure membership organizations has passed. Critics believe that these tools can replace the function of infrastructure organizations as vehicles for information exchange.

The reality is that infrastructure groups do so much more than just enabling the exchange of information. They foster a community that technology alone simply cannot.

By ourselves, we cannot advance a field, be the movement for change, develop the shared sense of direction, improve the standards or be that collective powerful voice. We still need the American Red Cross to galvanize its chapters across the country when there is a major emergency. We still need infrastructure groups – national, regional, state and local – to be the hub of the community, to be the voice of a sector, to promote collaboration and cooperation, to have a larger vision and to promote change on a scale greater than its individual members. The whole really is greater than the sum of its parts.

Decades after the interstate highway system came into being, cars have improved, highways have improved and much improved signage guides us along the way. But, the infrastructure of the bridges and roads that connect us across the country is still needed and must be improved and maintained. As funders contemplate the value of making a grant to either to direct service provider or to an infrastructure organization, I suggest that this is an apple to oranges comparison. Both are needed. Both provide important services. The question really lies in your decision to change the life of one family or to potentially change the ability of a sector to support needy families. Both are valid. Effective infrastructure groups maximize impact. In times of plenty or of scarcity, any vehicle that maximizes impact should be celebrated and nurtured.

Just one person’s opinion, what is yours?

‘Aging’s evolving puzzle’ for the region…Calls for better youth mental health services in Va…First meeting of the Region Forward Coalition [News, 6.16.11]

The Post looks at the wide spectrum of challenges facing the region’s rapidly increasing senior population, their implications for local jurisdictions and their communities, and, the funding shortages that are affecting critical services – collectively described as “aging’s evolving puzzle.” (WaPo, 6/16)

As people live longer, healthier lives, employment and community engagement have climbed up the list of pressing needs for this generation of seniors…There are other needs, too, including affordable housing, public transportation and funding for community services.

Related: Arlington and Alexandria working to help older adults age in place (WaPo, 6/16)

A REGION UNITED | Tamara writes about the first meeting of the Region Forward Coalition and its team-based approach to the plan. (WG Daily, 6/16)

HEALTH | Advocates: Virginia Needs To Revamp Youth Mental Health Care (WAMU, 6/15) “[M]any children in crisis aren’t receiving the services they need.”

Related: WRAG’s Children, Youth, and Families Working Group took an in-depth look at youth mental health systems in the region in April.

HIV/AIDS | N Street Village and Miriam’s House discuss strategies for serving homeless women with HIV in the latest issue of the American Academy of HIV Medicine’s  journal. (HIV Specialist, Spring 2011)

NONPROFITS | Potential changes in IRS policies have significant implications for nonprofit tax-exempt status and information disclosure. (Chronicle, 6/15)

BUDGETS | Most of our readers are probably familiar with the great work of the D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute, but for those who aren’t, the City Paper has a great profile of the organization. (City Paper, 6/16)

HOUSING | Low-income housing firm gets bailout from Alexandria City Council (WaPo, 6/16)

EDUCATION | Acting Chancellor of D.C. Schools Kaya Henderson’s confirmation hearing started this morning. Bill Turque has up-to-the-minute coverage. (WaPo, 6/16)

I couldn’t come up with anything funny today after reading that the Redskins have been ranked as the second-worst professional sports team in major league sports.  Or maybe that is funny.  Anyway, I know at least one WRAG member (with the initials V.B.) who will love that ranking.

Region Forward Coalition: The Work Begins

By Tamara Copeland
Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers

When the WRAG Board endorsed Region Forward: A Comprehensive Guide for Regional Planning and Measuring Progress in the 21st Century, they knew that the plan was an important breakthrough. Not only did it address our region as a region instead of disparate municipalities, but it also looked at the concept of complete communities with a health lens and an education lens in addition to the more traditional perspectives like transportation, housing, development, etc. Still, questions remained. How would impact be assessed and measured? And what actually constitutes a “complete community” (the term of art used in the report)?

Last Friday, answers started to emerge.

At the first meeting of the Region Forward Coalition, representatives from local, state, and federal governments joined business, nonprofit, and philanthropic leaders to discuss how to effectively approach the plan moving forward. The group will take a three-pronged approach by dividing into teams:

1. Regional Analysis and Performance Baseline Team will define what baseline information must be gathered and will then identify a means of data collection and measurement of progress toward the plan’s goals every 3-4 years.

2. Complete Communities Team will define what constitutes a complete community. Current thinking suggests an anchor employer, schools, affordable housing, health care facilities and civic/cultural facilities.

3. Impact Team will do exactly what its name suggest – analyze the impact of different initiatives towards the goals and objectives in the plan.

All of the details haven’t been worked through yet, or perhaps even fully defined. But it is exciting that this plan doesn’t seem destined to only collect dust on a shelf.

Note: Serving on the Coalition are the following members of the philanthropic community: Terri Lee Freeman (Community Foundation of the National Capital Region); Rosie Allen-Herring (Fannie Mae); Kristin Pauly (Prince Charitable Trusts); Mardell Moffett (The Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation); and, Carol Thompson Cole (Venture Philanthropy Partners).

New report: Our Region, Our Giving looks at full impact of recession

This month marks the 100th anniversary of organized philanthropy, and with the anniversary we find ourselves in a challenging period of modern philanthropy. With the final release of 2009 data, this year’s edition of the Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers’ Our Region, Our Giving takes a comprehensive look at how the economic crisis impacted philanthropy in our region. Total giving and assets dropped considerably – 8 percent and 2.6 percent, respectively – but a closer look at the region’s leaders reveals a different narrative.

Despite major asset losses as high as 45 percent, about half of the top funders actually increased their giving, one by more than 47 percent. Even funders that reduced giving from the previous year did so sparingly considering their asset losses. WRAG’s president, Tamara Copeland, noted:

Considering the severity of the asset losses that many of the region’s funders sustained, their levels of giving are truly remarkable. They reveal the dedication and leadership that defines philanthropy in the Greater Washington region.

Also featured in this year’s report are lists of the top fifty locally-based nonprofits receiving support from the region’s funders in four issue areas. And, an initial look at giving and asset estimates for 2010 suggests that we might be seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.

This year’s edition of Our Region, Our Giving was produced in partnership with the Foundation Center and made possible through generous support from Capital One.

An Open Letter to Funders in Our Region

In an open letter to funders, Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker speaks out directly to the grantmaking community. This continues WRAG’s commitment to work with elected officials across the region toward a Region United.

By Rushern L. Baker, III
County Executive of Prince George’s County, MD

Since taking office on December 6, my administration has been exploring new opportunities to engage the philanthropic, business and nonprofit communities. Why? Because we cannot create the quality of life that the citizens and residents of Prince George’s County deserve without you.

It has been a pleasure for my staff and me to meet with various funders and service providers over the last few months. These meetings have provided a wonderful exchange of information, suggestions and ideas that have helped us as we begin to reshape these relationships and processes. We’ve made some critical proposals that will improve the grant process and monitoring of the nonprofits that provide great service.

  • The FY 2012 Proposed Budget eliminates the prior practice of earmarks for selected organizations, and instead provides for a more competitive process that will award grants based upon a set of criteria, including the value added to the identified community, overall program costs, organizational stability, and adequacy of other funding sources. In addition, the County will be ensuring that the funds we invest in organizations will be focused on achieving quantifiable results. Furthermore, organizations will be subject to reporting requirements, including itemization of how County funds were spent, the actual results accomplished relative to estimated results, and the ability of the organization to leverage County funds to obtain additional sources of funds.
  • The FY 2012 Proposed Budget contains no earmarks for specific organizations from on-going revenues. Thus, it provides for $4.0 million in competitive grants – an increase of $1.6 million or 68% over FY 2011 in competitive grants.

Additionally, we are exploring the possibility of an office that will be dedicated to addressing the needs of nonprofit and faith-based organizations that will streamline processes that can impose expenses on them. We are also working on ways to improve our grant research, writing and tracking efforts among agencies in coordination with the Office of Management and Budget.

We believe that these efforts show our commitment to creating an environment that is accountable to and responsible for our partners as we improve the quality of life in Prince George’s County. By implementing these practices, you will know that your resources are not being wasted. Everyone – from the employee who writes the grant to the person who receives the service – will be able to celebrate not only the investment of funds and talent but also the outcome.

Taking Steps to Make the Potomac Healthy

By Eric Kessler
Principal and Managing Director
Arabella Philanthropic Investment Advisors

Last November, the Potomac Conservancy and I co-hosted the inaugural Potomac Table, which brought together over 30 regional philanthropic leaders to learn about the state of the Nation’s River. Although there has been much progress since President Lyndon Johnson declared a polluted Potomac River a “national disgrace,” many stretches of the river remain unhealthy.

85 percent of the region’s residents get our drinking water from the Potomac. As we open our taps, few of us think about polluted soil from construction sites, farm runoff carrying hormones, antibiotics, and pesticides, or rainwater running off steaming asphalt parking lots. These pollutants flow unchecked into the ecosystem.

With Earth Day and spring upon us, thousands of people are enjoying the watershed’s trails and parks. When I am out with my family on our boat this summer, I want to know that we can swim in the Potomac without the risk of getting sick.

We can achieve reasonable goals through actions on the land that support and sustain healthy waters, including:

  • Protecting forests and replanting more trees;
  • Limiting pollution running off roofs and roads;
  • Building a community of champions for the Potomac.

With the support of WRAG members such as the Cafritz Foundation, Prince Charitable Trust and the MARPAT Foundation, the Potomac Conservancy contributes to a united region by working to safeguard the lands and waters of the Potomac. Together, they understand that water is not a waste product, but a resource.

As individuals and communities who care about the health of our lands and waters, we must embrace stronger protections for our rivers and forests.

The steps we take – or fail to take – today will have a profound impact on the future of the Potomac River as well as the region’s quality of life and our own health.