Welcome to the White House, Philanthropy

headshot of suzanne allenOn December 1, I had an opportunity to join with other regional association and community foundation leaders from across our country to celebrate 100 years of community foundations. Having been to Washington many times to attend meetings and meet with legislators, I’d never been invited to the White House. And it was indeed an honor, and the convening that celebrated the service of community foundations was a terrific way to start a Monday.

In an article about the event, Jonathan Greenblatt, the director of the Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation, said, “America has led the world in developing a national culture of civic participation, but one of the most enduring institutions that we created has been the community foundation. Today, President Obama is proud to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the community foundation with a convening here at the White House, where we welcomed more than 100 leaders from this field. Together, we commemorated a century of achievement by community foundations and looked forward to the possibilities that lie ahead.”

And it was a day of thoughtful celebrations. We heard from community foundation leaders and senior White House staff about the roles and responsibilities of the foundations, and more importantly, how those roles and responsibilities are changing.

The questions in our smaller group discussions were vital ones. What are funders thinking about for the future? Who are your communities’ catalysts? How are businesses and philanthropic organizations convening and working together?

A panel led by Diana Aviv in Wash DC. Foundation leaders on successful partnerships.

Led by Diana Aviv of Independent Sector, a panel of foundation leaders speak about successful partnerships in Washington, D.C.

These questions and more were raised and discussed at a reception hosted by Independent Sector and the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, whose CEO Emmett Carson said, “Community foundations must lead in community discussions about local populations and local issues. They have the nuanced abilities to meeting issues head-on and can convene leaders and financial resources.”

But he challenged the assembled group with one final question that asked each of us ponder: are we mission and values-based, serving the needs of our communities?

This question and others are ones I know our community foundation leaders constantly ask themselves and their colleagues. And because of this constant inquiry, Ohio stands as a leader in the community foundation field. Whether large or small, or somewhere in the middle, our community foundations are daily reminders of the vision and fortitude of our state’s dedicated citizens – those who knew that to prepare for the future, we must preserve and invest our wealth in perpetuity.

It was a great day in Washington, D.C.

suzanne signed in blue ink

Suzanne T. Allen, Ph.D.


December 10, 2014 at 9:54 am Leave a comment

Because of philanthropy. . .

headshot of claudiaIn this month when we celebrate philanthropy and give thanks, I am reminded of the countless ways that philanthropy impacts the lives of millions of Ohioans.

Because of philanthropy:

hands raised with heartsThese are just a few examples of the impact philanthropy makes in communities across the state. I could go on and on building a list that encompasses all 88 counties, because Ohio is a very generous state.

We’ll be releasing our Ohio Gives infographic in a few weeks, which demonstrates this generosity with data on the amount and range of giving but here’s one quick data point: in 2012 – the latest year for which we have data – individuals and organizations gave $7.8 billion to support all kinds of nonprofits. That’s up significantly from the $6.6 billion of the year before. We’ll be mailing Ohio Gives to members and posting it on this blog as well as our website next month.

fingerprint heart: National Philanthropy Day imageWe’re not the only ones celebrating the impact of philanthropy this month. While National Philanthropy Day is formally designated as November 15, it’s celebrated throughout the month here in Ohio and across the country. Around the state, local Association of Fundraising Professionals chapters are hosting lunches and other special events that recognize community members for their outstanding contributions. A few Philanthropy Ohio members are among those being recognized at these events, including The Mt. Sinai Health Care Foundation, Austin-Bailey Health and Wellness Foundation and CareSource, and we congratulate them on their awards.

Let’s all celebrate philanthropy, its strength and vitality, in all its forms.

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Claudia Y.W. Herrold

November 18, 2014 at 1:57 pm Leave a comment

Lame duck doesn’t have to be lame

headshot of claudiaIt’s been just a week since the midterm elections, where in Ohio a little over 3 million voters – 40 percent of those eligible – cast ballots. The vitriolic attack ads have been replaced by holiday ads and when we answer the phone showing an “unknown number” it’s now likely to be a charity calling for an end-of-year appeal (and that’s a topic for another blog post) rather than a robo-call urging us to vote for – or against – a politician.

And, whether you think that the country is on the right track or going down the tubes after the election, it’s over until 2016. Our thoughts now turn to finishing out the rest of the year, as the Halloween candy sits in the sale bin, replaced by candy canes, green and red M&Ms and foil-wrapped chocolate coins on store shelves.

ducks on crutches walking to White HouseWith the election over, political pundits now fill air time talking about the lame duck period and whether any significant policy can be made. The term lame duck refers to elected officials continuing in office during the period after an election and before the inauguration of the successor, whether an individual or a body like the Ohio General Assembly or U.S. Congress. And, as I listened in to the post-election commentary discussions I wondered: why is it a lame duck, rather than a sinking duck, and why a duck at all?

I turned to the Internet, having forgotten – if I ever learned – the origin of the term in my political science classes in under- and post-graduate work. Turns out the phrase originated in the 18th century and was used to refer to investors in the British stock market who were unable to pay their debts, so couldn’t keep up with the flock.

The term was first used in U.S. politics in 1863, and since then has been depicted in countless political articles, commentary and cartoons,  including this one showing Democrats – on crutches – leaving congress and heading to President Wilson’s White House for help in finding their next jobs.

democrat party donkey and gop party elephantApplying the term to legislators is unfortunate, because both the Ohio General Assembly and the U.S. Congress have important work to do during their limited days in session this month and next. I hope the Ohio Senate uses its scheduled days to take up HB 408, which passed the Ohio House back in the spring. It would encourage people to make charitable contributions to community foundations that address critical local problems, from pre-school access to college scholarships, from job training to safety net services and so much more. We are grateful for the 84 House members who voted for the bill and for our Senate sponsors of the companion bill, Senators Schaffer, Peterson, Hite and Beagle.

capitol building in DCI also hope that the U.S. Senate will pass the America Gives More Act, another bill dedicated to encouraging charitable giving. The bill, which the House passed in July, includes a provision that would make the IRA Charitable Rollover permanent. This provision, which allows individuals to give retirement assets directly to qualified charities without tax consequences, expired at the end of last year. The bill has yet to get a hearing in the Senate, and thousands of taxpayers are waiting to see if they can use those assets this year to support their favorite charities – including community foundations but also universities, museums, YWCAs and countless other organizations and causes. And, since both Ohio’s senators will remain in office next year, I hope they will “lead the flock” of their lame duck colleagues to get the bill onto the Senate floor and passed.


Claudia Y.W. Herrold

November 11, 2014 at 11:32 am Leave a comment

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

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