Tag: 2015

A look back at WRAG in 2015

WRAG | 2015 proved to be an exciting year for WRAG and our members. Check out our 2015 Year Book to see how we continued to strive to inspire, influence, and innovate through our work.

ARTS | Arts funders convened at WRAG last month to discuss strategies for advancing equity and diversity in the arts. Here are a few of the ideas that rose to the top. (Daily, 1/11)

Exponent Philanthropy has released their 2016 Foundation Operations and Management Report, detailing how foundations work to create change and the seven strategies their members use to bring about outsized impact. (Philanthrofiles, 1/11)

–  Hill-Snowdon Foundation executive director Nat Chioke Williams shares his thoughts on the power of young leaders (like those recently recognized in The Chronicle of Philanthropy‘s 40 under 40 list) and how he thinks philanthropy needs to change in order to achieve the future that these leasers have envisioned. (NCRP, 1/5)

CSR | Tim McClimon, president of the American Express Foundation and head faculty member for the Institute for Corporate Social Responsibility, shares his  2016 predictions for CSR trends. (American Express, 1/4)

SOCIAL PROFITS | A recent survey of social profit communications staff finds that while many are generally satisfied with their jobs, nearly half of those surveyed plan to leave their positions within two years due to on-the-job frustrations that cause them to feel restless. (Chronicle, 1/8) – Subscription required

HOUSING | The Growing Trend of Affordable Housing Impact Statements (City Lab, 1/8)

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Promoting effective philanthropy for Greater Washington | A second quarter report to the community

By Tamara Copeland
Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers

A few years ago, there was a lot of talk in the social profit sector about moving from good to great. Some in that sector may be surprised to learn that folks in philanthropy have been having a similar conversation. What does it take to ensure effective philanthropy? How can we ensure that funds are being invested in the best way to truly improve the region?

So, for the second quarter of 2015, WRAG took “promoting effective philanthropy” as our focus:

WRAG’s “Fundamentals of CSR” seminar, held in April, aimed to promote effective partnerships between corporate funders and the region’s social profit community. Our belief was that corporate philanthropy’s impact would be strengthened by having community partners who better understood the unique philanthropic perspective of corporations. Over 50 members of the local social profit community participated in this very well-received workshop and told us that their knowledge about CSR improved from an average of 4.8 on a 1-10 scale before the seminar, to 7.9 by the end of the two-day seminar. Great. Now, we have to wait a bit to see if that knowledge gain makes a difference.

In May, Community Wealth Building took front and center as we hosted – along with the Community Foundation for the National Capital Region, the Consumer Health Foundation, and City First Enterprises – the first community update on this initiative. The standing-room-only audience was eager to learn the status of the first business launched under the community wealth building umbrella, and to consider if they saw a place for themselves in this initiative. Many did! So, after several years of planning, community wealth building is taking off in our region. Great? I sure think so.

Next, affordable housing. We all know the current state of this as a crisis in our region. In May, WRAG and Enterprise Community Partners collaborated to present to the Federal City Council on a new funding pool that we are establishing for developers of affordable housing units. It will provide these developers with access to low interest bridge loans. This is exciting and innovative work for WRAG, and is creating buzz as we move into the impact investing arena. Stay tuned for an announcement next month about how you can be involved in this effort, too. It’s not just for institutional philanthropists. We can all play a role in enabling affordable housing in our region. Definitely a move from good (info gathering) –> to great (taking action and making a difference).

And, last, but definitely not least, what will it take to move the social profit sector in Loudoun County from good to great? More communication across sectors and more targeted and increased philanthropic investments. To get there, WRAG hosted our first philanthropy conference in Loudoun County. Over 100 people attended, including 40 funders, along with representatives of social profit organizations and local government. Now that interest in the county has been kindled, the next step is a meeting this summer to really talk about how to move from interest to action.

There will be no lazy, hazy days of summer at WRAG. Moving from good to great takes time, energy, and focus. We’re glad to play a part with philanthropy in our region. Happy summer everyone!

You can read Tamara’s first quarter report to the community about growing philanthropy in our region here

Growing philanthropy in our region | A first quarter report to the community

by Tamara Copeland
Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers

“Why aren’t there more national funders investing in our region?”

“Who else is funding XXX?  I need to know so we can coordinate better.”

“I can’t be the primary funder forever.  YYY needs more funding partners.”

At WRAG, we hear these comments and others like them all of the time from our members. This quarter “growing philanthropy in the region” has become our focus.

Most of the time, at WRAG, we wear the hat of the convener, or the voice of philanthropy, or the information aggregator.  For the first quarter of 2015, we have elevated another aspect of our work – fund developer. I know that this isn’t a descriptor that you typically associate with WRAG, but it is central to our role. Even our mission statement says that in addition to promoting effective and responsible philanthropy, we are “to increase philanthropy in the region.”   So, we’ve taken a number of new steps this quarter to do just that.

In January, Dr. Sherece West-Scantlebury, CEO of the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation in Arkansas, spoke at WRAG’s CEO Coffee and Conversation series.  Why?  Because Sherece had done a phenomenal job of bringing national funders into Arkansas, a state that, like the Greater Washington region, was rarely the pilot site of any major national initiatives.  We wanted to learn how she and her colleagues had managed to bring in millions in new revenue to social profits located in Arkansas in a relatively short period of time.  We heard her message of bold, coordinated action. Now a group of WRAG members is exploring how we might move forward in a similar way in our backyard.

In February, we launched the Get on the Map campaign, an effort to gather data on who is giving to which social profits in our region. Why? On the surface, this may appear to be a simple data mapping project.  It is that, of course, but it is also a means of assessing where investments are not being made in the region, and of providing a platform that might lead to better coordination of giving — a service that the WRAG community has wanted for years.

This month, we announced a new WRAG initiative, a two-day workshop on the Fundamentals of Corporate Social Responsibility.  Why?  Because we know that every funder and every social profit organization – both grantor and grantee – wants to expand the funding pool.  Through this workshop, we hope to help the local social profit sector better understand the constraints and opportunities that rest in the corporate community.  This knowledge will lead to more focused, appropriate proposals and to better partnerships to address the overall needs of the region.

And, it doesn’t stop there. In May, WRAG will be shining a spotlight on the needs of Loudoun County, just as we did years ago on Prince George’s County. Why? To showcase a part of our region that needs  greater philanthropic investment.  Many believe that WRAG’s role made a difference in Prince George’s. Now we hope to do the same thing in Loudoun.

It’s springtime. The seeds are being planted.  You’ll know when they bear fruit!