Remembering John Glenn

headshot of claudia smilingI spent Saturday afternoon watching the memorial service for John Glenn, televised from OSU’s Mershon Auditorium, as did many others around the country and here in Ohio. I thought back to the time I met him and got his autograph on a dinner napkin after his election to the U.S. Senate. And, I thought back just a few years to when we presented our annual Ohio Philanthropy Award to him and Annie, and was sorry that not one of the many eloquent eulogists mentioned his deep commitment to philanthropy.

I went back to the press release we sent in 2012, announcing John and Annie Glenn’s selection for that year’s award by our Board of Trustees to remind myself of their philanthropy:

“When Ohioans think of who best represents the highest values of philanthropy and community service, two names are universally recognized: John and Annie Glenn. Their records of selfless service are unsurpassed in this generation, as exemplified by:

  • Their support of alma mater Muskingum University;
  • Establishing scholarships for needy students;
  • Creating the John Glenn School for Public Affairs at The Ohio State University;
  • Glenn’s outreach to people with speech and hearing difficulties; and
  • Glenn’s 24 years of U.S. Senator.

In 2012, the Philanthropy Ohio Board of Trustees awarded John and Annie Glenn the Ohio Philanthropy Award, recognizing their philanthropic spirit, generosity and dedication to strengthening individuals and communities.

A hundred years from now, when Americans think of great Ohioans, the names of John and Annie Glenn will come to mind. They humble us by the example they set of lifetime service to Ohio and America.”

In addition to his space flights and years in the Senate, these are the accomplishments I will remember.

Claudia Y.W. Herrold

December 19, 2016 at 12:02 pm Leave a comment

Before You Go: Robert Eckardt

2016-bob-eckardt-blog-photoWe caught up with Robert Eckardt, retiring Cleveland Foundation executive vice president, before he wraps up his tenure at the foundation at the end of the month. Bob shared what led him to the philanthropic field as well as advice for new practitioners. 

What was your career path to the position you are leaving?
I moved to Cleveland in 1977 to run a project funded by a Cleveland Foundation grant looking at health care needs of the growing elderly population. After five years in Cleveland, I almost moved to Connecticut for a job but was asked to join the staff of the (much smaller in those days) Cleveland Foundation as a program officer to handle grants in the areas of health and aging. I thought I might work there for 4-5 years. However, over the years my roles changed at the foundation with growing levels of responsibility, culminating with my current position as executive vice president. This opportunity for growth kept me at the foundation. So, I have been at the foundation more than 34 years in a variety of roles, but all with significant focus on grantmaking.

Ohio, Cleveland, wind driven power generator, downtown skyline, Key Tower,What advice would you offer to someone just entering the field?
Philanthropy is a wonderful field, with the opportunity to work with many interesting people on important issues. But there are several dangers as well. The power differential between the applicants and the foundation can be a challenge. It can lead to arrogance on the part of funders, with poor customer service and worse. A second danger is to think that money is the resource in short supply. You learn that managerial talent and the ability to implement funded projects are also resources. This means you need to focus as much on organization capacity and the ability to implement as on the idea. In a way, ideas are much more common than is the ability to actually implement. Finally, you also have walk the fine line between trying to be helpful to your grantees but not muddling in their work and becoming a burden by unrealistic expectations. The grantee always knows the work better.


Bob Eckardt speaks at the 2014 Summer Institute in Columbus.

What would you change if you had a chance for a “do-over?”
Not sure I have a great answer to this question. Of course there were individual grants that did not meet expectations, but if properly structured they become fodder for learning and for improvements in the future. If I could do anything, I would probably devote more resources on the back end of the grants, trying to learn from the successes and failures.

What’s next?
I’m still working to fully define that. I plan to stay in Cleveland and will stay on a number of current boards, both locally and nationally. I am interested in getting more engaged in some of the health and aging issues that animated my early career, but the specifics are still being finalized

What will you miss (if anything) about your position?
I’ll miss the opportunity to work with so many committed people who are striving to make the community better. Many are working against incredible odds and clearly not for personal enrichment.

December 12, 2016 at 8:30 am Leave a comment

How Ohio Gives

headshot of claudia smilingOur annual Ohio Gives infographic is now out, highlighting an all-time high in giving. In 2014, the most recent year IRS data is available, Ohio giving rose 8 percent. The new peak was pushed by increases in both individual and foundation giving.

Click here to view and download the infographic.

Individual giving makes up 76 percent of Ohio giving, with foundations making up 18 percent, United Ways make up 2 percent and other giving is at 3 percent.





Individuals gave more to their favorite causes in 2014, increasing by 8% to $6.01 billion in gifts including bequests. This amount is just short of the previous high of $6.1 billion given in 2012. Ohioans have a strong tradition of supporting charities despite the economic recessions of the 21st century and have been generous in their response to disasters both here and abroad.

Of the 28 percent of taxpayers who claimed deductions for charitable gifts on their federal tax returns, middle income earners – individuals/joint tax filers earning $50,000 to $200,000 – make up 69 percent of individual giving.


Foundations make up 18 percent of Ohio giving, and strong asset growth pushed foundation giving up to $1.45 billion, a 9 percent increase that surpassed the previous 2008 peak. Ohio ranks 7th in the number of foundations in the U.S. and 11th in giving.

Ohio foundations have weathered the economic storms of the 21st century with solid growth in their number, assets and giving. Over the past 15 years, their giving grew 60 percent, from $908 million in 2000 to the 2014 figure of $1.45.


Ohio’s 75 United Ways are a diverse group of funders spread across the state. Together, they provided $180.5 million to nonprofit organizations in their communities and are a vital part of the state’s philanthropic network.

Five percent gave over $10 million, totaling $127.3 million; 21 percent gave between $1 million and $10 million, totaling $ 35.4 million; and 74 percent gave less than $1 million, totaling $17.8 million.

Ohio Gives portrays philanthropy’s value and impact, drawing on 2014 and 2015 data from a variety of sources. Our analysis presents data from the most recent available year, which is 2014 for IRS data. Other sources used for the report include Foundation Center, Foundation Directory Online, Guidestar and Giving USA as well as our own research.

The full report, which dives deeper into the data including 5-year giving trends among the different type of Ohio foundations, will be released later this month. Learn more about Ohio Gives at

Claudia Y.W. Herrold



December 6, 2016 at 9:51 am Leave a comment

Giving Tuesday in its 5th Year

headshot of claudia smilingEnd-of-year giving kicks off tomorrow, November 29, with GivingTuesday, a global day for giving back that comes the first Tuesday after Thanksgiving. Eat your turkey, shop local until you drop on Black Friday, buy online on Cyber Monday, then donate to your favorite charities on Tuesday, November 29. A recent search for Ohio nonprofits participating in GivingTuesday showed 884 entries, including these Philanthropy Ohio members:

Columbus Foundation

Jewish Federation of Cleveland

Scioto Foundation

Toledo Community Foundation

United Way of Greater Cleveland

United Way of Greater Lorain County

Women’s Fund of Central Ohio

Last year, over 700,000 individuals from 71 countries donated $116 million on GivingTuesday. It harnesses the power of social media, as evidenced by last year’s numbers: 114 billion Twitter impressions, 1.3 million social media mentions, 1.08 million gifts (mean gift was $107) and over 917,000 Facebook reaches. Participating organizations have access to a toolkit and sample resources to help create a successful campaign and individual donors can search for local nonprofits where they can volunteer and donate.

giving tuesdaySome of the participating nonprofits have secured match funds for donations on Tuesday, making the day even more impactful for those serving neighbors in need. See if your favorite causes are participating – and if they’re not, figure out another way to donate your time and money.

Claudia Y.W. Herrold

November 28, 2016 at 2:47 pm Leave a comment

Foundation leader struck by disparities data

2016-christine-amer-mayer-blog-photoThis week we welcome guest blogger Christine Amer Mayer, president of the GAR Foundation in Akron, reposting her recent blog, Systemic Inequity: An Honest Reckoning.

And, check out a recent report from Kris Putnam-Walkerly, The Road to Achieving Equity, a field scan of foundations embracing equity.

My friend and colleague Brian Frederick referenced in his recent blog post the Racial Equity Institute (REI) “Groundwater” training session. I attended that powerful session as well, and I was struck by the questions it raised related to the growth and opportunity challenges we face. REI suggests, and indeed proves with a hefty catalog of research, that it is no coincidence that white people do better than black people in virtually every arena of American life.

We use different language to describe disparities in each setting – the “achievement gap” in education, “health disparities” in health care, “disproportionate representation” in incarceration rates. But the trend is the same everywhere, and the words that best describe the real phenomenon are, sadly, “systemic racism.”

While some would like to believe that racism is a “Southern problem,” the data show otherwise. In my hometown of Akron, Ohio, black babies are twice as likely as white babies to be born very premature. Black children are three and a half times more likely than their white classmates to fall below 3rd grade reading proficiency levels. In adulthood, black people in Akron are three times more likely than whites to be on food stamps, and four and a half times more likely than whites to be incarcerated. (Source: The Fund for Our Economic Future).

Writing her first book.

I suspect Brian Frederick wished, as I did, that the REI training would give us the answers, would arm us with the “five simple steps to end systemic racism in your community.” Sadly, no such simple steps exist. On the contrary, our nation has some hard work ahead of it.

Only after that honest reckoning can we begin to strategize on how we can create different, more equitable outcomes.

baby_babiesIn the area of economic development and community building, we need to double down on a Growth & Opportunity agenda. This agenda begins with the premise that the only economic growth worth having is the kind that intentionally connects wealth and opportunity to all members of our community. When we truly embrace a Growth & Opportunity agenda, we will see the choices before us with new eyes. We will understand that some so-called “economic wins” only serve to exacerbate income inequality, overwhelmingly to the detriment of people of color. We will also see that we can be intentional about pursuing economic growth strategies that are structured around opportunity, and that by doing so, we will simultaneously construct future prosperity and deconstruct the systemic inequity that has plagued us for so long.

The challenge is daunting. But we have to start somewhere. Pursuing a true Growth & Opportunity agenda is as good a first step as any.

Christine Amer Mayer

November 21, 2016 at 3:30 pm Leave a comment

Ohio Celebrates Philanthropy

headshot of claudia smilingPresident Reagan declared November 15 National Philanthropy Day back in 1986 and the tradition of celebrating philanthropy has grown worldwide and here in Ohio. It’s a day that recognizes all who volunteer their time, treasure and talent to make a difference in communities, through large gestures and small but all coming from a generosity of spirit and concern for their neighbors next door and around the world.

Here in Ohio, chapters of the Association of Fundraising Professionals celebrate philanthropy in their local communities throughout the month. I’m excited that several of our members are being recognized for their work at these local events:

Thank you to these honorees and to:

The 2.51 million Ohioans who volunteered more than 267 million hours

Ohioans who donated $5.59 billion to charities

volunteer-dscf1460Ohio’s nearly 4,000 foundations that invested $1.5 billion in nonprofit work

Ohio’s 75 United Ways that contributed $180 million

It’s a lot to celebrate.

Claudia Y.W. Herrold

November 14, 2016 at 9:45 am Leave a comment

Making sense of a very strange day

2016-Suzanne-blog-photoIn the wee hours of the morning, as I was trying to make sense of a very strange day, I read a tweet that suggested we all just go to bed and rest. Tomorrow would come, as would the next day, and the next.

And I thought, of course the days would come and we will trudge on. It’s what we do.  It’s who we are. We serve a sector that is about civic dialogue and participation, social innovation and justice, and most of all, we are sector that is inclusive. So let me be a gentle voice of reassurance today.

Our work is noble, our voice is important and we need to step back and remember why we serve a nonprofit organization, whether as grantmakers or grantees – we see the problems and we see ways to meet them in creative and meaningful ways. And we make a difference.


Diverse People Friendship Togetherness Connection Rear View Conc

We may have to rally our causes more, because fear and hate are hard to overcome. But when we welcome trust, compassion, justice and the belief that we all have special gifts to share, it’s easier to disassemble the issues behind the fear and the hate and create conversations about what’s really important.

flag-american-pride-1191650I’m grateful for the work you do each and every day, encouraging people and organizations to be their best, and sharing the message of hope and healing. But don’t forget that as we navigate through the next few days, weeks and months, it’s okay to spend time nurturing yourself, taking care that you are rested, not weary, enlightened and not down-hearted and filled with hope rather than hopelessness.

Perhaps the tweet was right, maybe we can just take it one day at time and get a good night’s sleep.

Suzanne T. Allen

November 9, 2016 at 3:04 pm 1 comment

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