Celebrating 100 years of community philanthropy

headshot of suzanne allenCleveland, 100 years later, continues to serve as the focal point of the community foundation world. Since the inception of the idea of a community of people making small gifts to create change on a large scale – to the gathering of over 1,500 people to share ideas about the changing community foundation world – Cleveland has been in the spotlight.

The Council on Foundation’s fall conference for community foundations was a grand statement to the important role community foundations have in “placed-based” giving. And for me, it was a wonderful opportunity to connect with many friends from Ohio’s community foundations and those in our neighboring states, as well.

stage lit up at conferenceIt also reinforced for me the importance of collaboration and sharing our successes and failures with each other as an experiential learning exercise.

A gathering of community foundation leaders from Ohio, Michigan and Indiana made it clear that while our communities may be different, the roles of our community foundations are remarkably similar: to discover and understand the differences; to challenge the status quo; and to be the change agent and problem solver each community needs.

Thanks to Suzie Light, executive director of the Kosciusko County Community Foundation in Indiana; Carla Roberts, president & CEO of Fremont Area Community Foundation in Michigan; and Keith Burwell, president and CEO of Ohio’s Toledo Community Foundation; for their panel discussion demonstrating how they play these roles so effectively in their communities.

clevefdnAnd kudos to the team from The Cleveland Foundation  and other Ohio foundations for their work in making this conference a stellar event, reinforcing the role of Cleveland in this philanthropic movement.

The community foundation field continues to grow, both predictably and in nuanced ways, and Philanthropy Ohio remains committed to serving these needs. We are dedicated to engaging, listening and developing learning opportunities to help all our members become problem solvers. In The Cleveland Foundation video,  which won an award at the conference, Frederick Goff (the founder of the Cleveland Foundation in 1914) said that the role of a community foundation is to identify the causes of a problem, like poverty, and then “fix it.”

Each week, we share news about the “fixers” and problem solvers in Ohio in our news digest. [Sign up to receive our news digest.] We love hearing your stories about the meaningful work you do in your communities and your regions. At the end of the day, it’s what we all appreciate… making a difference.

Congratulations to the field of community philanthropy, happy first 100 years!

suzanne signed in blue ink



Suzanne T. Allen, Ph.D.

October 29, 2014 at 12:41 pm Leave a comment

How to Engage Youth in Philanthropy (Hint: Stop Using the Word Leader)

headshot of Jessica Working in philanthropy, one can’t help but to be constantly thinking about the future – future grant requests, the future impact of investments on the community and the future of our society as a whole.

Not unrelated, I often think about future philanthropists. What will they look like, what will their passions be and more importantly, will they care?

For many in our field, it may be your job to think about the future of philanthropy. For me, these questions prompted me to attend a youth philanthropy summit at the  Pickaway County Community Foundation in Circleville last month, a city just south of Columbus.

If we want to reach young people, teach them about philanthropy and get them excited about playing an active role in the future of our society, we have to change how we approach youth. This was the main message at the youth summit.

background image of people outlinedBut this message totally rings true. We already know that collectively youth are a powerful group to tap into, and formal youth philanthropy programs are prevalent across the state with 26 active programs involving hundreds of young people ages 5 to 22 in Ohio.

Working in the field of philanthropy – and being part of that demographic group we can’t stop talking about, also known as millennials – I see instances nearly every day about how we can (and should) change our message or the way we do things to be more receptive to the next generation.

girs sitting on stairs looking at tabletsFor starters, when looking for groups of students to approach to start a youth philanthropy program, don’t go first to the student council or honor societies – most likely they are already involved and the goal should be to reach youth who are totally new to philanthropy. In addition, don’t call your event a “youth leadership event” because many young people don’t see themselves as leaders – at least not yet. Your goal is to turn them into leaders, but using the term “leader” may turn them off altogether.

Here are four other tips I gleaned from the afternoon summit:

  1. A dead room is a dead audience. This should be a best practice not just for youth gatherings, but for how you approach every presentation. You must be engaging or you’ll lose them, and practice the 13-minute rule. Thirteen minutes is the maximum you can expect to have a group’s undivided attention. After that time period, take a break or move on to something new.
  2. If you build it and market it, they will come. But if you don’t have consistency, structure and adult leadership on your end, they’ll do something else. Make it easy to get involved, and providing food doesn’t hurt either.
  3. Seek to understand, not emulate. Just because the store is called Forever 21, doesn’t mean you should shop there! Do keep up on trends in popular culture, slang, etc. but don’t try to pull them off. Kids will see right through you.
  4. Employ social branding. Make sure the youth involved leave with an experience, something to reflect on and an action item. Think about all the other things kids have going on in their day, and set your engagement apart. What makes your group unique, what do you have to offer and what will they get out of it? Think as a marketer, and tap into their attitudes and perspective.

hands with social media icons

As a marketer and a millennial, I know how important it is to meet people at their level. We can’t afford to be blind to the next generation. With the future of philanthropy resting in the hands of youth, it’s in our best interests to involve them now and get them excited and inspired about the role they can play.

If you’re looking for resources for improving or starting a youth philanthropy program, take a look at our youth philanthropy web page, where you can find best practices, resources and a directory of all the youth philanthropy programs in Ohio. Or reach out to me or anyone at Philanthropy Ohio with questions or for assistance.

Best Regards,

jessica signature

Jessica Howard

October 21, 2014 at 11:27 am Leave a comment

Ohio Nonprofit Report Shows Trends, Strength

headshot of claudiaThe Ohio Association of Nonprofit Organizations just released its newest report on the state of Ohio’s nonprofit sector.

Chief among the data: last year, with more than 37,000 registered nonprofits, 14,010 were large enough – i.e., had gross receipts of $50,000 or more – to be required to file the federal information form 990 that details their finances, programs, donations and governance practices.


The data on these 14,000+ organizations clearly demonstrate the vitality of the sector. Here are just a few of the aggregated figures that caught my eye.
Reporting nonprofits:

  • Had $70 billion in expenditures – roughly 15% of Ohio’s gross domestic product;
  • Held $71 billion in assets;
  • Made three-quarters of their revenue from services and contracts; and
  • Employed more than 487,000 people – the 4th largest employer type – and these employees earned about $20 million in wages – nearly 9% of the state’s total payroll.

OANO Sector Report FINAL[1] 1A few other interesting data points illustrate how nonprofits are spread across the state. Monroe and Vinton Counties had only 10 each, compared to Franklin County’s 1,966; clearly, some parts of the state remain underserved.

Just as diverse are the different programmatic areas that are the focus of nonprofits: more than 9,000 are religion-related, 5,201 focus on education and only 143 focus on civil rights, social action and advocacy.

These numbers tell only part of the story. They don’t begin to tell the story of the countless people who find jobs, further their education, receive immunizations and are fed, housed and clothed because of dedicated nonprofit employees.

Take a few minutes to read the report and celebrate the strength of the sector.

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Claudia Y.W. Herrold

October 13, 2014 at 4:42 pm Leave a comment

Philanthropy Ohio announces 2014 awardees

headshot of claudiaNext week at our Fall Forum luncheon we’ll be honoring three Ohio philanthropists for their work: tickets are on sale through Wednesday (today) if you’d like to join in the celebration!

Headshot of Denise San Antonio Zeman

Ohio Philanthropy Award Winner: Denise San Antonio Zeman

We’ll be presenting our lifetime achievement in Ohio philanthropy award to Denise San Antonio Zeman, who recently retired from leading the Saint Luke’s Foundation for 14 years. During her presidency, she grew the foundation, expanded partnerships and increased local and national advocacy. Under her leadership, the foundation’s grantmaking budget increased from $3 million to $13 million, with further growth expected. Denise also served as co-chair of the Human Services Strategic Restructuring Pilot project, which brought together 18 funders to examine how to support nonprofit organizations in strategic restructuring as they grappled with unprecedented social change, economic challenges and other shifts in their operating environment in 2009. In whatever leadership role Denise played in the greater Cleveland community over the years, she was compassionate, thoughtful, curious and eager to challenge the status quo, advancing philanthropy and we congratulate her as we present her with the 2014 Ohio Philanthropy Award.

headshot of Andrea Timan

Emerging Philanthropist Award Winner: Andrea Timan

Andrea Timan will receive our Emerging Philanthropist Award next week, honoring her six-year tenure on United Way of Greater Cleveland’s Young Leaders Cabinet, the guiding body for programming that unites young professionals around philanthropy, volunteerism and advocacy. In serving as the cabinet’s co-chair, she developed and implemented the framework for the Young Leaders Corporate Chapter program in 2013, with 11 corporate chapters currently in place. Andrea’s ability to build targeted partnerships between disparate organizations, engaging individuals and showing leadership in advancing philanthropy make her the ideal and deserving emerging philanthropist. Congratulations, Andrea, on your commitment to leadership in philanthropy so early in your career!

headshot of Shiloh Turner

Innovation Award Winner: Shiloh Turner

We’re also excited to be honoring Shiloh Turner, vice president of community investment at The Greater Cincinnati Foundation, with our second annual Innovation Award. Shiloh leads a new approach for addressing large challenges, called collective impact, which is a disciplined effort to bring together a cross-sector partnership aligning action around a common agenda to make large-scale community change. She took charge of establishing six backbone organizations core to the community’s success, developing a robust technical assistance program to support them as they lead community collaborations. This new way of working together has resulted in dynamic changes at Cincinnati Public Schools, leveraging investments to improve neighborhoods and establishing a community of practice, thanks to Shiloh’s leadership.Fall Forum Email Header for nonprofits

I hope you’ll join me in honoring and congratulating these extraordinary women next week at our Fall Forum.

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Claudia Y.W. Herrold

October 1, 2014 at 11:50 am Leave a comment

Philanthropy Ohio Achieves Top Rating

Philanthropy Ohio achieved Charity Navigator’s coveted four-star rating for sound fiscal management and a commitment to accountability and transparency.

Continue Reading September 22, 2014 at 2:58 pm Leave a comment

What philanthropy can learn from the Ice Bucket Challenge

headshot of suzanne allenA strange phenomenon occurred this summer, and it’s only beginning to show signs of slowing. Its appeal is the combination of grassroots charm and our culture’s love of selfie-based technology. And I’ll bet as a reader of this blog, you have or you know someone who has participated in the ALS Association’s Ice Bucket Challenge.

According to the August 29 edition of the Chronicle of Philanthropy, in just a few weeks this sensation has raised more than $100 million for the ALS Association and has generated nearly 1 million new philanthropists to this organization. Compare that with the $19.4 million in total contributions they received last year!

Matt Lauer ice bucketThe Ice Bucket Challenge first received media attention at the end of June on the Golf Channel program, Morning Drive, when a live, on-air Ice Bucket Challenge was issued. A few weeks later, television anchor Matt Lauer accepted Greg Norman’s Challenge and was doused with a bucket of ice water on NBC’s The Today Show.

Presidents, CEOs, musicians, actors, athletes and many of your friends and mine have taken the challenge. There’s a really cute video of Kermit the Frog accepting the challenge and one of my daughter and a son-in-law that were so funny. But I digress.

The rules state that within 24 hours of being challenged, participants have to record a video of them in continuous footage. First, they are to announce their acceptance of the challenge, followed by pouring ice into a bucket of water. Then, the bucket is to be lifted and poured over the participant’s head. Then the participant can call out a challenge to other people and the participant should make a donation of $100. Whether that’s always the way it happens is up for debate and the subject of another blog.

But the real question is: “What can we learn from this marvel of selfie technology?” Here’s what I think:

  1. People will give to a cause they care about if they can identify with it. But the message has got to be short and sweet: Raise money for ALS and get wet.
  2. It’s got to be fun. Who didn’t laugh as their friends screamed like children when the icy water hit their heads? We really like to laugh and be entertained. According to one researcher, by maintaining an aura of lightheartedness, you allow people to connect with your organization in an authentic way.
  3. It’s got to be easy. If it was hard to make the donation, or if it involved a stamp or something signed by witnesses, you might still see the videos, but ALS wouldn’t have 1 million new donors and $100 million in the bank.
  4. It’s got to be quick. ALS Ice Bucket Challenge rules say that the participants only have 24 hours to complete the event in order to challenge others. They’ve realized a simple marketing strategy: give people a deadline and the initiative will become a greater priority. And they used multiple platforms to get the word out. Use social media, it’s really quick!
  5. Give people an opportunity to feel really good about helping others. This campaign was particularly poignant because no matter the size of the donation, folks felt a shared sense of unity with other people – those famous and rather infamous.

That’s what it’s really about, connecting with others in a meaningful way and feeling good about it.

Did I mention Homer Simpson took the Ice Bucket Challenge?

suzanne signed in blue ink

Suzanne T. Allen, Ph. D.


September 8, 2014 at 9:05 am Leave a comment

The Fight to Keep Ohio’s New Learning Standards

headshot of claudiaIt’s been a busy few weeks for the 42-member Ohio Standard Coalition, on which Philanthropy Ohio and many of our members serve.

The Coalition has been hard at work clarifying myths and showing support for Ohio’s New Learning Standards, within the Common Core State Standards – in light of proposed H.B. 597.

We had nearly 130 speakers and written testimony submitted showing support for Ohio’s New Learning Standards at the H.B. 597 hearings. Click here to view the testimony.

Click here to read the bill.

teacher helps a student readBeyond the Coalition, community leaders have also backed our position, and last Thursday, the Ohio Standard Coalition held a press conference at the Statehouse where Ohio business leaders expressed their strong support for the standards and opposition to H.B. 597. In addition, a representative from the State University Education Deans spoke about the deans’ opposition to the bill. Check out the website for ongoing coverage and updates.

The next committee hearing has been scheduled for Thursday, September 4, at 10 a.m. at the Ohio Statehouse Room 313. At this hearing we expect amendments to the bill and a possible vote.

Follow and join in the conversation on Twitter via @TheOhioStandard and #OHstandards.

12-05-13 The Ohio Standard_Logo

Over the last few weeks, there has been amazing outreach, support and engagement from individuals and organizations. This has been a great team effort – exactly why this Coalition was created. I hope we can keep up this level engagement over the next few months because we are not done when the hearings end.

Your dedication to our children is inspiring!

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Claudia Y.W. Herrold

September 2, 2014 at 11:26 am Leave a comment

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