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Our "Adventures in Philanthropy" blog posts are written by our staff and diverse membership and offer a glimpse into the world of philanthropy, presenting current issues and information relevant to funders, policymakers, members of the media, and those interested in current issues and giving trends.


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The Role of Philanthropy in Public Policy: “ABAG Goes to Annapolis”

Posted By Jonalyn Denlinger, Tuesday, February 21, 2017
Updated: Thursday, April 13, 2017

By: Jonalyn Denlinger, Director of Member Engagement

On January 31st, ABAG held its first ever “ABAG Goes to Annapolis” event. Twenty ABAG members and staff met in Annapolis to participate in the legislative session. For many, this was their first time to Annapolis observing the legislative session, for others this was a repeat occurrence. Both seasoned and first-timers commented on the “hurry up to wait” experience of the legislative session, as well as the importance of participating as an active citizen in the decisions made in our state capital. Everyone also agreed that it was a positive experience that exposed members to the legislative process.

This day in Annapolis represents the work of the Association’s Public Policy Committee, which meets quarterly. In 2016, the Public Policy committee, led by chair Kevin Griffin Moreno of the Baltimore Community Foundation, worked together to learn about the various roles our members play in public policy. It was through these conversations and exploration that we learned many of our members had not been to Annapolis, either in their personal life or professional roles. We also learned that our members engage with public officials and policy-related issues in a variety of ways- each unique to the charter and bylaws of their organization. Additionally, we learned that many of our members had hesitations and the need for further clarity about the role philanthropy can play in public policy. As a committee, we wanted to capture the various ways our members both define and act within the context of public policy. Below is our guiding document of definitions:

Public policy advocacy is a means of effecting change in public policy or practice through persuasive communications with elected or appointed public officials.

Advocacy does not equal Lobbying. Public policy advocacy includes a broad range of communications, relationship-building, capacity-building, and other activities. U.S. and federal guidelines limit lobbying to contacting – or urging the public to contact – policymakers for the purpose of: proposing, supporting, or opposing legislation; and/or influencing public policy decisions by Executive Branch employees.

Public policy advocacy includes:

  • Legislative advocacy – aimed at passing, blocking, or changing legislation;
  • Budget advocacy – aimed at affecting the allocation of public resources;
  • Administrative/regulatory advocacy – aimed at affecting the ways that laws are implemented and budgets are spent by public agencies; and
  • Judicial advocacy – aimed at reforming the legal system.

Types of public policy advocacy and potential roles for philanthropy:

  • Capacity Building – grantmaking to advocacy organizations, organizing, leadership development  
  • Coalition Building – mobilizing individuals/organizations around specific policy issues
  • Convening – holding meetings/forming networks around particular issues
  • Education – providing information to public officials and other stakeholders about policy issues
  • Grassroots Organizing – leading organizing efforts around particular issues
  • Litigation – lawsuits, legal representation, etc.
  • Lobbying –direct & grassroots lobbying – includes verbal & written testimony unless formally invited
  • Research – funding and/or disseminating the findings of studies, reports, white papers, etc. for the purpose of effecting policy change
  • Relationship-Building – cross sector relationship building with public, private, and social sector stakeholders
  • Strategic Communications – press releases, interviews, op-ed pieces, blog posts, social media activities, marketing, branding, emails to stakeholders, etc.
  • Funding - direct funding to advocacy organizations to address key issues important to foundation and community

Please join us for continued conversations about the role of philanthropy in public policy at our upcoming Public Policy Committee Meetings:

March 30, 9:00 AM – 10:30 AM

June 19, 2:30 PM – 4:00 PM

September 18, 2:30 PM – 4:00 PM

November 20, 2:30 PM – 4:00 PM 

Tags:  ABAG Members  Adventures in Philanthropy  Philanthropy  policymakers  policyworks  Public Policy 

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Feelings; a Database Transition Tool

Posted By Kathleen McCarthy, Monday, August 8, 2016

This article originally appeared on the Marion I. & Henry J. Knott Foundation's blog. It is shared here with permission. 


A lesson in how to relate “thinking” technology to “feelings” and our broader organizational culture



Maya Angelou famously said, “I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” I have given a lot of thought to this quote over the past year, especially as the Knott Foundation has transitioned to a new grants management system.

The transition to a new system began with a deep dive into to the ever-expanding world of software options. To see the multitude of bells and whistles available to manage, measure, and message our data was both overwhelming and exhilarating. And, like buying a new car, I could see how it would be very easy to walk away with a Ferrari when you only needed a Ford.


Our approach when identifying a system was largely threefold: to find a system that would improve operational efficiencies internally, enhance the grant applicant experience externally, and enable us to understand, aggregate, and share the data and stories we are collecting.


After months of planning and long hours of building out our new Fluxx platform, with tremendous excitement we went live with the system in April of this year. While largely a smooth ride, as is customary with any database transition, we have hit a few bumps in the road. 


And this is where Maya Angelou comes into play. As it turns out, database transitions concern themselves with more than just data. At their heart they are all about people and how they feel.


For our staff, it was important that that the new system be flexible and powerful without being intimidating. To ensure that we achieved this in the final build, feelings became a big part of the conversation. Learning curves are inevitable, but what’s invaluable in getting the best possible product is understanding how the database ultimately makes the staff responsible for interacting with it feel. Communicating with Fluxx how certain processes and design elements were leaving individuals confused and uncertain helped us get to a place where change management (rather than crisis management) could take place.


For our applicants, it was important that the new system provide a high level of real time access and control. We believe, and have heard from many applicants, that the new online system does this. While the empowering elements are a valued improvement, we remain committed to our welcoming culture in the face of our new technology. Realizing that grant writing is a hard job and navigating the proclivities of foundations can be even harder, we never want to promote technological empowerment over human understanding. If we neglected to address how our new grants system made our applicants feel, we would not only be making their jobs harder, we wouldn’t be true to our own organizational culture. 


Listening, acknowledging and responding to feelings throughout our database transition process has not always been easy. We believe in the end, however, that in doing so we have created a strong platform to achieve our long-term goal of understanding, aggregating, and sharing the data and stories we are collecting. While this goal will take a bit longer to achieve, we are energized by the thought that our grants management system transition could have a transformative impact on how we work to strengthen communities and foster relationships. 


As the Grants Manager, my job has been to shepherd the Foundation and our applicants through the transition to the Fluxx system. There have been times when my flock strayed; however, I found that when I took a step back and thought to myself,how would this change element make me feel if my role were something different? I found that I was able to get the flock back in the stall.


There are so many amazing grants management systems on the market today. There are also a lot of great resources, such as Idealware’s A Consumers Guide to Grants Management Systems, to help you get started in your journey. Regardless of the route you take in selecting your Ferrari or your Ford, and regardless of the choice you ultimately make, we’ve found that feelings are the fuel that will keep both on the road and running smoothly. They may be hard to hear and challenging to translate, but if you take the time…and a breath…people will never forget how you and your grants management system made them feel.  (And your database will thank you for it.)


Kathleen is the grants and information technology manager at The Marion I. & Henry J. Knott Foundation. You can learn more about the Foundation by visiting their website,

Tags:  ABAG members  Adventures in Philanthropy  grants management 

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ABAG Strives to be Inclusive in Hiring and Contracting

Posted By Elisabeth Hyleck, Monday, June 13, 2016

By Elisabeth Hyleck, Programs and Initiatives Director, Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers 

Diversity, in all its aspects, is an essential ingredient of good governance, and has been shown to result in better financial and organizational performance; increased capacity to connect to new markets and communities; expanded access to talented staff and volunteers; enhanced innovation and creativity; and stronger professional relationships.  ABAG believes that its governance and programs will improve if the perspectives of individuals of different backgrounds are included in its board, staff, programs, and decision-making. For ABAG, inclusiveness means creating a welcoming and trusting environment that facilitates learning and incorporates viewpoints of diverse communities.

Our Association is guided by our Diversity, Equity and Inclusiveness Policy, which defines what we mean and what we will do. It specifies that ABAG will use its diversity, racial equity and inclusiveness principles when contracting for goods, services, and recruiting, hiring and retaining staff. We feel we’ve had recent success in this arena and want to share with our members how we go about this work.


We know that people connect with jobs and opportunities mainly through personal connections. We also know that many people of color have been excluded from networks that provide them access to opportunity.  ABAG staff strives to develop and maintain connections with networks that will bridge divides of race and class. We then share job postings with these networks. Examples of this include the Annie E. Casey Foundation Program Assistant Network, ABFE, Morgan State University Graduate program, and programs such as Baltimore Corps. 


We also use the standard language on our job descriptions, “The Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers is an equal opportunity employer and seeks a diverse pool of candidates in this search.” It helps to be explicit!


Even in outreach to our personal/professional networks we are explicit in our desire to reach a diverse pool of candidates – again being intentional prompts colleagues to be intentional in their thinking and ultimately their referrals.



Have you attended a lunchtime program at ABAG recently? Did you know that we strive to use local, women- and minority-owned businesses that serve high-quality, healthy, delicious food? Our top caterers are: Mt. Vernon Stable (long live the turkey club!) owned by Lori Yagjian; Station North Arts Café, owned by Kevin Brown and William Maughlin; and Cazbar, owned by Haluk Kantar. Over the years we’ve tried out several other caterers and social enterprises and are always on the lookout for other options that meet our criteria. Please let us know if you have any suggestions for us!


We also contract with KJones Consulting, LLC, a women- and minority-owned enterprise, for our accounting services and with SB & Company, LLC, a minority-owned enterprise, for our annual audit.  We also work with HR Strategy Group, a women-owned enterprise offering customized human resources support and consulting. We believe that directing our funds in this manner grows minority businesses, increases minority hiring opportunities and is good for our local economy.   


Each of our contractual relationships has expanded our network and our ability to access a strong pool of diverse candidates and vendors to meet the needs of our organization.


Today, we are proud of the expertise and skills our diverse staff bring to our organization, for the benefit of our members. We also recognize that in order to retain staff, ABAG needs to be an organization where all people feel welcome and valued.  We strive to be a team of welcoming colleagues, offering support to new team members and encouraging continuous learning and the close collaboration that ensures growth and success for each of us as individuals and as a team. We know embracing diversity and inclusiveness and focusing on racial equity in its governance and programs will help us achieve ABAG’s mission to maximize the impact of giving on community life through a growing network of diverse, informed and effective philanthropists.

Tags:  ABAG Members  diversity  Equity  Inclusion  Inclusiveness 

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ABAG Affinity Group on Aging Share 2016 Plans

Posted By Tausi Suedi, Wednesday, February 17, 2016

February 17, 2016


By James Macgill, ABAG Consultant, Affinity Group on Aging 


In 2016 the Affinity Group on Aging will focus on three important areas:


·         Addressing the housing needs of Baltimore’s low-income seniors.

·         Developing new service models that combine health and community services for older adults.

·         Creating an advocacy platform for Baltimore City’s senior population.


Seniors and Housing


In 2014, the Affinity Group, in cooperation with the Homeowners’ Preservation Coalition convened the Baltimore Seniors and Housing Collaborative. The Collaborative, composed of more than 90 funders, nonprofits, public agencies and advocates focuses on the housing needs of Baltimore’s elderly. The Collaborative recognizes that many Baltimore low income seniors lack stable, affordable and healthy   housing, undermining their ability to age in place.  Working together, the members of the Collaborative has generated new service strategies, and funding initiatives including:

·         An educational and outreach program for seniors at risk of losing their homes due to the City’s Tax Sale process.

·         Housing Upgrades to Benefit Seniors (HUBS):  a collaboration of service providers, funded by the Leonard and Helen R. Stulman Charitable Foundation and Hoffberger Foundation, and administered by Civic Works. HUBS coordinates housing and related services for Baltimore City older adults to improve their health and safety, preserve the integrity of their properties, and extend the time that they can remain in their homes.

·         Project Household: a coordinated legal services program funded by the Stulman Foundation, which provides legal advocacy for seniors on housing problems, including consumer issues, family problems and estate questions.


In 2016, the Affinity Group will build upon and expand its work on senior housing issues.


Health System and Community Services


As Maryland and Baltimore City move closer to a population based approach to health care, the Affinity Group wants to assure that older adults are not left behind. Specifically the Affinity Group

·         Is working with the City Health Department to including an aging focus in the City’s Strategic Health Plan.

·         Brings together area hospitals and community-based aging service organizations to build partnerships to serve seniors in their communities, thus reducing hospital admissions and unnecessary costs.


Advocacy Platform

In recent years, Baltimore City seniors have lacked strong advocates who can take action on their behalf in the arena of public policy.  Some issues that advocates could address include:

·         State funding formulas that give insufficient weight to low income and vulnerable elderly, resulting in fewer senior services in the City.

·         Exploitation and abuse of vulnerable seniors, both in community settings and in institutions, such as nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

·         The need to upgrade and modernize Baltimore City’s senior centers.

·         Inadequate transportation services, for seniors and persons with disabilities in Baltimore particularly for those who need specialized door-to-door service.

In 2016, the Affinity Group will explore the potential for creating an advocacy network that will address these and other senior issues.

The Affinity Group on Aging is excited about its progress to date, and looks forward to a productive 2016.


Tags:  ABAG Members  Affinity Group  Philanthropy 

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Leveraging Change in Baltimore and Nationally

Posted By Celeste Amato, Monday, November 23, 2015
Updated: Monday, November 23, 2015
November 23, 2015

By Celeste Amato, ABAG President

Last week I had the pleasure of attending the Health & Environmental Funders Network’s 2015 Annual Meeting here in Baltimore along with ABAG members and other local and national funders interested in environmental health and justice. 

I was honored to speak at a panel session to discuss Baltimore’s challenges, how philanthropy is responding by working to build more resilient communities, and potential lessons for environmental health and justice investments elsewhere.

Here are some highlights of my remarks:

In April, the death of a young man named Freddie Gray while in police custody sparked days of mostly peaceful protest and some unfortunately destructive protest.

In the days and weeks that followed one moment that stands out for me is attending an event outside of the burned out CVS on Pennsylvania Ave. and looking down the street at a vacant lot – a lot that has stood vacant since its building was burned down in the 1968 riots roughly 50 years earlier.

We were standing in the same place – literally and figuratively.

I am sure most of you are familiar with the racially discriminatory practice called redlining. It was the practice of denying services, either directly or through selectively raising prices, to residents of certain areas based on the racial or ethnic make-ups of those areas. The most well known of these were real estate practices involving denial of financial services such as banking or insurance to residents within "red lined” communities.

Baltimore’s redline history is often cited in scholarly works on the subject but for those of us who live here – that past practice does not live only in the past – it continues to impact the lives of all residents in Baltimore whether you live inside or outside of those lines. I often think of the redline map as the map of all ills. If you want to know where life expectancy is shorter, where vacant and blighted housing is rampant, where lead poisoning is most common, even where there are few if any trees – the redline maps of Baltimore outlines the most negatively impacted communities.

Freddie Gray’s own life was impacted again and again by inequity and he has become representative for so much that we have struggled with as a City for so long. Too many of our children are growing up in homes and neighborhoods ravaged by drug addiction and violence, in housing conditions poisoned by lead and other toxins, in schools that are ill-equipped to meet their needs and in communities that will not offer employment opportunities even if they are able to attain a high school education.

Our funders have dedicated their expertise and resources to many of these issues for years and only sporadically with the support and collaboration of partners in other critically influential sectors.

April 27 was an outcry that our City needed. In the immediate aftermath our funding community was not a first responder, but a day one early responder.

In the first days following the destructive demonstrations in west Baltimore we focused on who we had on the ground – as grantees – who could support delivering basic needs to seniors and families without mobility. Many communities had now lost the few retailers selling basic necessities in their underserved communities.

We worked with government and grantees to deliver necessities, including prescriptions, and connect with seniors and others who were unable or even afraid to leave their homes.

In the weeks that followed, our funders turned their attention to the city’s children and how we might keep them safely off the streets for the summer knowing that violence would likely escalate in our impacted communities. Funders coordinated and collaborated to raise more funding which in turn created more summer programming seats.
The longer term response of our funding community will be more challenging. We were already engaged in race conversations and beginning a strategic effort to give our members tools to bring a racial equity lens to their grantmaking practice.

April 27 pushes us all harder and further to examine how we connect our work to community, invest our resources and use our collective voice to influence change and drive greater impact:
  • We are challenging ourselves to give voice to and support race dialogue across our City and State.
  • To focus on youth programming with an emphasis on disconnected youth – those 16 to 24 year olds not engaged in school or employment.
  • To continue our a strong focus on workforce AND connect our current funder investments more closely to public/private initiatives pushing to increase local hiring and purchasing.
  • To give our members a variety of tools to engage community voice in their grantmaking practice.
  • And to coordinate with our national funding colleagues to engage their expertise for Baltimore’s future.
It has also pushed partners in other business sectors to acknowledge and engage in conversations about racial disparities in ways that I have not heard or seen in my career experience until now.

Our hope is that the broad network for philanthropy our Association has been building will not only drive alignment among funders but increasingly drive intentional, focused alignment and action with partners in other sectors and that we will be able to eliminate barriers and increase access to opportunities - creating a city where a child’s skin color and zip code no longer predict his educational attainment, his employment or his health and life expectancy.

Tags:  ABAG Members  Environmental Health  HEFN  Maryland Environmental Health Network 

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We Have So Much to be Thankful For

Posted By Celeste Amato, Monday, November 23, 2015
November 23, 2015
By Celeste Amato, ABAG President

We have so much to be thankful for as we enter the holiday season here at ABAG.

I know that I am personally thankful for so much this year, starting with our membership. For the last three years I have had the privilege and honor to serve and lead an Association of members dedicated to making a difference in communities across our State.

I am grateful for our brilliant ABAG staff and our newest addition, Jonalyn Denlinger, who will join us in December to lead Member Services. Our ABAG team not only provides the services and programming our members value but they also deliver the support and leadership that enables members to engage in large and small projects and partnerships influencing bigger and lasting change in our communities. In 2016, we will be increasing our communications about strategic efforts to keep the full membership informed and connected to those efforts.

And, as a lifelong resident of Baltimore this may be unexpected, but I am grateful for the struggles our City has endured over the last year. These are difficult times for Baltimore but they push us all harder and further to examine how we connect our work to community, invest our resources and use our collective voice to influence change and drive greater impact. Recent events have also pushed potential partners in other sectors to acknowledge and engage in conversations about racial disparities in ways that I have not heard or seen in my career experience until now.

My hope is that the broad network for philanthropy our Association has been building will not only drive alignment among funders but increasingly drive intentional, focused alignment and action with partners in other sectors, acknowledging and tearing down barriers to create greater access to opportunity and an equitable future for all Baltimore and Maryland residents.

What is it that you are thankful for?

Wishing our board, staff, members, partners, and community a very Happy Thanksgiving.

Tags:  ABAG Members  Celeste Amato  Members  Thanksgiving 

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Philanthropy Leadership in an Unexpected Place

Posted By Rebecca Ruggles, Monday, September 21, 2015
September 21, 2015
By Rebecca Ruggles, ABAG Green Funders Affinity Group Coordinator

This summer I watched two members of our ABAG community in action – climate action, to be specific. Is this what you usually think of when you imagine foundation executives at work?

Lynn Heller, Senior Vice President at the Abell Foundation and Stuart Clarke, Executive Director of the Town Creek Foundation are serving on the Maryland Climate Change Commission. Established in 2007, this Commission was strengthened by legislation passed during the 2015 session.

With added slots, the Commission now has 25 members who represent business, non-profits, government, and philanthropy. The Commission has four working groups: Mitigation, Adaptation, Education, Communications and Outreach (ECO) , and the Science and Technical Work Group.

Many Maryland leaders are engaged in these work groups. For instance, the Science and Technical Work Group is chaired by Don Boesch, president of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Sciences (UMCES). This group provided an update on the latest climate science this summer, indicating that Maryland’s climate actions are fully justified by impending threats of sea level rise, global warming, and weather disruption.

The ECO Work Group, chaired by Lori Arguelles of the Alice Ferguson Foundation, hosted five public forums around the state in 5 weeks this summer, and gathered public comments from 200-300 Maryland residents.

My perspective on all this comes primarily from being on the Mitigation Work Group (MWG). It is co-chaired by Stuart Clarke and attorney Michael Powell, who represents energy industry clients. Stuart and Michael held 9 meetings of MWG this summer. We looked at everything from reforestation to electric vehicles to highway capital plans to jobs growth.

The Maryland Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act of 2012 is model legislation among states. It demanded that Maryland achieve a 25% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020, while spurring job creation and growing our economy.

According to the Maryland Department of the Environment: "Maryland has documented a sea level rise of more than one foot in the last century, increasing water temperatures in the Chesapeake Bay, more rain and flooding in the winter and spring and more arid summers. Maryland's people and their property, natural environment and public investments are extremely vulnerable to climate change impacts.”

In short – we are all going to feel this.

It is encouraging to hear that, so far, state analysts say we are on track to achieve a 25% reduction of greenhouse gases by 2020, and economists say that we are going to create at least 26,000 new jobs through these projects at a net benefit of $4 billion to our state’s economy.

That’s jobs and economic growth. Not what you might usually associate with climate change.

One question I hope the philanthropy community will want to ask is – to whom will these jobs and these economic benefits accrue? Among funders and Maryland non-profits, we have a vibrant conversation underway about equity, jobs, and quality of life. Lynn Heller and Stuart Clarke, as philanthropy professionals, regularly raise questions about equity and vulnerable populations.

Lynn and Stuart’s service on this commission bespeaks more than just bringing the accumulated wisdom of philanthropy to the policy arena. They are also working to make sure that climate action in Maryland addresses equity and opportunity for all.

This should make the Maryland Climate Change Commission of interest to funders who care about workforce development, community and neighborhood development, basic human needs, and health.

We’ll keep you abreast of this Commission and its work through blogs and programs. Let me know if we can answer your questions or facilitate your engagement in the many ways that climate action in Maryland will be shaping our state in coming years.

Tags:  ABAG Members  Abell Foundation  Affinity Groups  Green Funders  September 2015 Members' Memo  Town Creek Foundation 

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Make a New Year’s Resolution to Leverage your ABAG Membership

Posted By Adam Donaldson, Tuesday, January 20, 2015
Updated: Tuesday, January 27, 2015

January 20, 2015

By Adam Donaldson, ABAG Member Services Director

Not to brag, but on a personal note for my 2015 resolution I registered for The King Crab Challenge, for which runners must complete the half-marathon at the Frederick Run Fest, the Baltimore 10-Miler and the full or half-marathon at the Baltimore Run Fest. So now I have a training schedule, inspirational soundtrack with Eye of the Tiger, and family cheerleaders. I am – slowly – off to the races.

Now, as part of your 2015 philanthropy goals, I hope you will look to the Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers for a training plan and to take full advantage of your membership. From our ever-expanding range of programs, to the vital professional networks and funder collaboratives, to the public policy opportunities and philanthropic resources, membership in the Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers provides opportunities to assist you in your good work.

Include ABAG membership in your resolution this year:

1.GET TO KNOW A FELLOW GRANTMAKER. ABAG’s members are a diverse group of foundations, donor advised funds, charities and corporate giving programs. This is your network of over 400 trustees and staff that can provide you with grantmaking expertise, inspiration and collaboration opportunities.

2.ADDRESS CRITICAL COMMUNITY ISSUES WITH YOUR PEERS. Through ABAG’s Affinity and Working Groups, members learn and work together on critical community issues of mutual interest.

3.ASK A QUESTION. ABAG’s professional staff is here to answer your questions about foundation regulations, discretionary grants, compensation and grantmaking procedures. They can provide you with forms and procedures appropriate for your organization that will save you time.

4.ATTEND A PROGRAM. Every year ABAG’s 100+ educational programs address a wide range of issues. They are open to all who are curious about the issues, not just those who fund in this area. Philanthropy is about continuous learning - who knows where it will take you!

5.LEVERAGE YOUR DOLLARS. Extend your philanthropic dollars through collaboration with other members. Members regularly use ABAG as the vehicle to start projects, explore new approaches and/or pool funds.

6.JOIN ABAG FOR A SPECIAL EVENT. ABAG’s Annual Meeting on May 19, 2015, for example, will bring members together to celebrate our region’s community of grantmakers.

7.SEND A GRANTEE TO AN ABAG GRANTSEEKER WORKSHOP. ABAG’s affordable workshops for grantseekers outline the grant seeking process, detail how to write proposals, and deepen understanding of local foundations and corporate grant programs.

8.SPEND A LITTLE TIME TO SAVE A LOT OF TIME. Get to know the ABAG website,www.abagrantmakers.orgto read news articles on local and national philanthropy and ABAG events.

9.GET YOUR NAME IN LIGHTS – OR AT LEAST IN PRINT. ABAG can help you tell your story and feature your great grantmaking in our member publications, the website, Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin pages, Philanthropy News Online eNews, the Adventures in Philanthropy blog and in local and regional media outlets.

10.SAVE MONEY ON PRODUCTS AND SERVICES. Discounts for members are available on grants management software, D&O insurance, conference call services and publications.

ABAG staff often meet with members to understand their goals and design our services to match. Let us know how we can help you keep your 2015 resolutions. I look forward to seeing you around the ABAG table soon or a jogging trail.

As an organization of funders, ABAG is the Resource on Grantmaking, Network for Givers, and Voice for Philanthropy.

Tags:  ABAG Members  January 2015 Members' Memo  Member Services  Membership 

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12 Months, 12 Blog Posts by ABAG Members

Posted By Buffy Beaudoin-Schwartz, Monday, January 5, 2015

January 5, 2015

By Buffy Beaudoin-Schwarz, ABAG Communications Director

Our "Adventures in Philanthropy" blog posts are written by our staff and diverse membership and offer a glimpse into the world of philanthropy, presenting current issues and information relevant to funders, policymakers, members of the media, and those interested in current issues and giving trends.

As we start the New Year, we took a look back at 12 blog posts by 12 ABAG members over 12 months in 2014. We look forward to a robust year in 2015 of ABAG members blogging and sharing the good work of their philanthropic efforts.

Adventures in Philanthropy Blog Highlights: 

  1. Three Questions With ... Carmel Roques, President and CEO of ABAG Member Keswick Multi-Care 
  2. Call 2-1-1. There's Always an Answer - by Stephanie Halcott, United Way of Central Maryland
  3. Report Shows Growth for Community Foundations: Maryland Community Foundation Association Members Make Top 100 Lists - by Tamara Zavislan, Executive Director, Harford County Community Foundation
  4. Meet Laurie Latuda Kinkel, Newly Elected ABAG Board Chair Program Officer, Goldseker Foundation 
  5. 3 Questions With ... Janet Currie - Baltimore Market Manager, Bank of America 
  6. 3 Questions With ... Scott Nolen, Director, Drug Addiction and Treatment Program, OSI-Baltimore 
  7. 3 Questions With ... Mary Ann Scully, Chairman, President, CEO, Howard Bank 
  8. New Opportunities to Communicate - by Kelly Medinger, Executive Director, Knott Foundation 
  9. Blue Water Baltimore "Launched” - by Cathy Brill, Program Director, Rauch Foundation 
  10. Baltimore Library Project Celebrates Read Across America Day … All Month! – by Kate Sorestad, Program Officer, The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation 
  11. Top Ten Ways to Leverage Your ABAG Membership - by Brooke Hodges, former Chair of ABAG’s Member Services Committee 
  12. Baltimore Ravens Community Quarterback Awards - by Kelly Quinlan, Baltimore Ravens Community Affairs 

Tags:  ABAG Members  Adventures in Philanthropy  Blogs 

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ABAG Programming Heats Up!

Posted By Elisabeth Hyleck, Thursday, May 15, 2014
Updated: Thursday, May 15, 2014
May 15, 2014

By Elisabeth Hyleck, ABAG Strategic Initiatives Director

As the temperatures in Baltimore climb, so do the number of great ABAG programs and events!

By the end of June, we will have hosted 60 educational programs, webinars, and special events like last week’s Annual Meeting!

Responding to the interests and requests of members to convene, learn, share and take action, we are pleased to offer ABAG members these hot upcoming opportunities:
  • A webinar with FSG on the topic of Shared Measurement in Collective Impact to learn about the definition and benefits of shared measurement; designing and deploying shared measurement systems; and the challenges and success factors of engaging in shared measurement.
One member recently told us that they appreciate that ABAG programs “foster useful conversations about relevant topics among ABAG members.” We know there will be other hot topics on the minds of ABAG members, so please recommend program topics and speakers by using the Program Nomination Form or contact Elisabeth Hyleck.

See you soon! 

Tags:  ABAG members  Adventures in Philanthropy  May 2014 Members' Memo  Programs 

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Top Ten Ways to Leverage Your ABAG Membership in 2014

Posted By Brooke Hodges, Tuesday, February 18, 2014

February 18, 2014

By Brooke Hodges, Bank of America Community Affairs

Chair, ABAG Member Services Committee

I have been a banker for years and have been volunteering in my community since childhood. So, when the opportunity came to transfer into Bank of America’s Community Affairs group in 1998, I knew it would be a perfect fit. I was given the advice to meet with ABAG as a way to truly learn about the nonprofits in the Baltimore area and to connect with fellow grantmakers – and boy, was that sage advice.

From the very first meeting to countless other meetings over the next 16 years, ABAG staff and ABAG members have been a great network for me. I have discussed ideas and proposals with my colleagues in the Business Giving Roundtable and I have networked with colleagues through numerous Affinity Groups.

Because I value the services I receive from my membership, I joined the Member Services Committee, and currently serve as Chair. And, as Chair, I’d like to provide you with some thoughts on how to take advantage of your ABAG membership in 2014.

Here is a list of the Top Ten Ways you can leverage your ABAG membership this year:

1. GET TO KNOW A FELLOW GRANTMAKER. ABAG’s members are a diverse group of foundations, donor advised funds and corporate giving programs. This is your network of over 400 trustees and staff that can provide you with grantmaking expertise, inspiration and collaboration opportunities.

2. ADDRESS CRITICAL COMMUNITY ISSUES WITH YOUR PEERS. Through ABAG’s Affinity and Working Groups, members learn and work together on critical community issues of mutual interest.

3. ASK A QUESTION. ABAG’s professional staff is here to answer your questions about foundation regulations, discretionary grants, compensation and grantmaking procedures. They can provide you with forms and procedures appropriate for your organization that will save you time.

4. ATTEND A PROGRAM. Every year ABAG’s 100+ educational programs address a wide range of issues. They are open to all who are curious about the issues, not just those who fund in this area. Philanthropy is about continuous learning - who knows where it will take you!

5. LEVERAGE YOUR DOLLARS. Extend your philanthropic dollars through collaboration with other members. Members regularly use ABAG as the vehicle to start projects, explore new approaches and/or pool funds.

6. JOIN ABAG FOR A SPECIAL EVENT. ABAG’s Annual Meeting in May, for example, brings members together to celebrate our region’s community of grantmakers.

7. SEND A GRANTEE TO AN ABAG GRANTSEEKER WORKSHOP. ABAG’s affordable workshops for grantseekers outline the grant seeking process, detail how to write proposals, and deepen understanding of local foundations and corporate grant programs. 

8. SPEND A LITTLE TIME TO SAVE A LOT OF TIME. Get to know the ABAG website, to read news articles on local and national philanthropy and ABAG events. The Private Online Member Community includes forums for our affinity groups and roundtables and other materials and resources.

9. GET YOUR NAME IN LIGHTS – OR AT LEAST IN PRINT. ABAG can help you tell your story and feature your great grantmaking in our member publications, the website, Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin pages, Philanthropy News Online eNews, the Adventures in Philanthropy blog and in local and regional media outlets.

10. SAVE MONEY ON PRODUCTS AND SERVICES. Discounts for members are available on grants management software, D&O insurance, conference call services and publications.

Is there something else you would add? Let me know! I look forward to seeing you around the ABAG table soon.

Tags:  ABAG Members  Adventures in Philanthropy  Business and Corporate Philanthropy  Business Giving Roundtable  Corporate Philanthropy  February 2014 Members' Memo  Membership 

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Capturing the Impact of ABAG Programs

Posted By Elisabeth Hyleck, Monday, February 3, 2014
February 3, 2014
By Elisabeth Hyleck, ABAG Strategic Initiatives Director

ABAG's mission is to maximize the impact of philanthropic giving on community life through a growing network of diverse, informed and effective grantmakers.

As the Resource on Grantmaking, Network for Givers and Voice for Philanthropy, we take great pride in offering quality programs for our diverse membership throughout the year.

In 2013 we held 117 programs and webinars, all designed to assist and inform our members to be more effective grantmakers.

In order to develop programs our members value, we invite them to share their thoughts and ideas as part of the planning process through a yearly program survey.

Our 2013 Program Survey provided great insight and advice from our membership, where we were able to gather feedback to improve the quality of our work and capture the impact our programs may have had on their grantmaking and the community.

Here’s what we learned:

• Our educational programs are consistently the most popular we offer.
• Members continue to value the "right” speakers and information.
• Timing and vibrant discussion with peers is important.
• Grantmaking practice programs are highly valued.
• This year we should support further discussions with peers about working together on specific issues.
• This year members want additional programs on grantmaking practice, education issues and neighborhoods and community development issues.

I am pleased to work closely with our staff and members to conceptualize and coordinate our weekly programs, and thank our membership for taking the time and effort to provide us with ideas and suggestions so we can provide the best possible educational programs in 2014.

For further information on ABAG's events and programs, please contact me, Elisabeth Hyleck, Special Initiatives Director.

Tags:  ABAG Members  ABAG Programs  Adventures in Philanthropy  February 2014 Members' Memo  Programs 

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ABAG Members: Save The Date! 2013 30th Anniversary Annual Meeting

Posted By Buffy Beaudoin-Schwartz, Thursday, March 14, 2013
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Funders Partner to Support Innovative Education Projects

Posted By Karen Alexander, Wednesday, February 6, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, February 19, 2013

February 6, 2013 

By Karen Alexander, ABAG's Education Funders Affinity Group 

Education in the 21st century involves looking beyond the status quo for new ways to improve student performance. Here in Baltimore, ABAG members are partnering with the school district to support several innovative projects.

Last year, ABAG convened a briefing with leadership from Baltimore City Public Schools and Johns Hopkins University around the opportunity to secure more than $5.4 million in federal funds. Out of nearly 600 applications for The United States Department of Education’s competitive Investing in Innovation (i3) grants to support the validation and expansion of innovative programs that benefit high-need public school students, only 23 grants were awarded, two of which were to be implemented in Baltimore City Public Schools.

The funding could only be secured with the commitment of 15 percent in private matching funds. Within three weeks, 12 ABAG members rallied to commit the nearly $900,000 needed to ensure that Baltimore City Schools could successfully secure the federal money.

These i3 grants are now being used to expand the impact of two highly effective programs underway in city schools: the Middle School STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Summer Learning Program and the Exceptional Coaching for Early Language and Literacy-Enhanced (ExCELL-E) teacher training program.

On January 31, ABAG held a briefing to update members on the progress made during the first year of these two multi-year grants and plans for the remaining years. Ryan Reid Salta, Director of Mathematics for Baltimore City Schools, presented data from the 2012 Middle School STEM Summer Learning Program, which combined high-quality math instruction with a hands-on, project-based robotics program in an attempt to reduce the summer learning loss that students typically experience each year. The six week program, which targeted rising 6th, 7th, and 8th graders who had scored below proficient on standardized math tests, also incorporated a research-based team building component, which was designed to foster the students’ social-emotional development.

During the presentation, ABAG members asked Ms. Salta about how the district planned to address the challenges that the district faced in student recruitment and attendance for summer 2012 to ensure that more students benefit from this innovative learning opportunity this summer.

Dr. Barbara Wasik from Johns Hopkins University and Dr. Carol Hammer from Temple University joined Charlene Iannone-Campbell, Director of Baltimore City Schools’ Office of Early Learning, to provide an update on the ExCELL-E program. This program is providing a variety of training supports to preschool, kindergarten and first grade teachers in Baltimore City Schools and schools in Lancaster, Pennsylvania to help native English and English as a Second Language students in high-poverty areas develop their language and literacy skills. ExCELL-E is integrating web-based technology with targeted coaching facilitated by structured lesson plans to promote the school readiness of children who attend high-poverty schools in both cities. Pilots are underway in four Baltimore City classrooms, with plans to expand for the 2013-14 school year.

ABAG members suggested that a module be developed for elementary school principals to help them better understand the ExCELL-E model and the ways that it might benefit the young students in their schools.

These i3 grants are representative of the high level of innovation underway in Baltimore City Schools and the critical role that local grantmakers play in supporting and encouraging promising new efforts with the potential to increase student achievement. ABAG will continue to keep its members apprised of the progress of these two initiatives.

Karen can be reached at:

Tags:  ABAG Members  Adventures in Philanthropy  Affinity Groups  Ed Funders  Education  grants  i3  Innovation 

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"I Look Forward to Your Emails!"

Posted By Celeste Amato, Friday, January 25, 2013
January 25, 2013
As our 30th anniversary year gets underway we are focused on deepening the engagement of our members through our programs, affinity groups, projects and collaborative efforts. We are also continuing our work to promote and support good public policy, enhance communications, and grow partnerships.

We are looking forward to celebrating our milestone anniversary with our members in May and we've begun sharing our anniversary tagline:

Celebrating 30 Years of Philanthropy: Shaping the Next 30 Years of Giving

This tag captured the ABAG Team's sentiment about this milestone anniversary by acknowledging our history AND looking forward to all that lies ahead for our membership, the work we share and the communities we serve.

We would love to hear what ABAG and this anniversary means to you
I hope you will take a moment to email us a one or two sentence expression of your thoughts about ABAG. We will be sharing member and partner thoughts throughout this anniversary year through our various publications.

I continue to meet our members and partners here at ABAG, in the community and in one-on-one meetings. Thank you for generously sharing your time, your thoughts and obvious regard for our organization. Please email me if you have some time in the coming months so I can visit with you. I look forward to meeting with you soon.



Tags:  30th Anniversary  ABAG  ABAG Members  Adventures in Philanthropy  Message from Celeste 

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PR With a Purpose

Posted By Craig Demchak, Tuesday, January 22, 2013
January 22, 2013
By Craig Demchak
Community Affairs Director

When I began my work as Director of Community Affairs for The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation in 2010, I knew that I had much to learn as I transitioned from 30-plus years as a broadcast journalist. For all that time, I had been part of the audience for public relations and marketing folk. All that I knew about messaging, story pitching, and communication – was from the other side. Now, it was my turn to shape, pitch, and promote.

The transition has been challenging, exciting, and – mostly - enjoyable thanks in particular to the support and friendship of numerous PR and communications professionals, especially within Baltimore’s nonprofit community.

I work for an incredible organization that, quite simply, helps a lot of people who are among those hurting the most.

As I often joke, even an average day in philanthropy beats a lot of good days in television news. Sure, I miss many of my former colleagues, the rush of breaking news, the satisfaction of a story well-told both in word and picture. But it has been a rare and wonderful feeling being part of the Weinberg Foundation’s mission to serve disadvantaged and vulnerable populations.

Just as I did as a journalist, I find myself learning something new every day. That’s certainly true regarding the strategies and tools of public relations and communications, specifically, through the lens of philanthropy. As we’ve often heard, "to know one foundation, is to know one foundation.” I’ve seen that’s also very true in terms of communications – one size definitely does not fit all. Missions and goals, audiences, staffing, resources – all represent unique elements of the overall communications equation, and even the x’s and y’s sometimes change on a daily basis.

Even the PR landscape itself changes so quickly, it sometimes seems impossible to keep up. Just talking about social media, for example, nationally recognized leaders in the field express this sentiment: "If anybody tells you they’re an ‘expert’, they’re either delusional or they’re fibbing.” I must admit it’s both terrifying and strangely comforting that we’re all learning, at what seems to be warp speed.

One key support for me is ABAG’s affinity group for ABAG member communications professionals. We meet quarterly to share the latest information, questions and concerns, and help each other maximize the communications impact, both internally and externally, at our respective organizations.

Through this valuable peer group, I learned about Communications Network and its national resources dedicated to "strengthening the voice of philanthropy” and had the opportunity to attend the Network’s Fall 2012 conference. The workshop and breakout sessions were fantastic and extremely informative. Topics included trends for 2013 and beyond, social media strategy and implementation, video integration and showcasing, and data visualization.

It is my hope that a single contact from that conference will lead to a major enhancement in the way we highlight the Weinberg Foundation’s grantmaking in our hometowns including Baltimore and worldwide. Pretty exciting stuff!

Here are just a few of the many items presented or mentioned that I found particularly interesting and relevant and which may be for other foundations as well:

• "Nonprofit communications professionals not long ago were basically responsible for newsletters and annual reports. Today, you are the strategic planner and executor of your organization’s 24/7 outreach to the community”
• "Foundations today need a chief communications officer”
• "Even the U.S. State Department utilizes ‘Facebook diplomacy’”
• "Some nonprofits are now ‘paying’ for coverage” (sponsorship identified as such)
• "Some nonprofits are considering a graphic designer as a staff person due to the growing emphasis on data visualization and infographics for use in print, video, and on the web”
• "Nonprofits are using interactive/video game-type presentations to tell the organization’s story in a different way”
Weinberg Foundation Leaders: I promise I won’t create a philanthropically themed video game or try to hire a staff graphic artist. This year.

While our various nonprofit missions may be distinct, our basic goal is the same – to help make our organization even more effective, in helping to make our community even better.

Truly, this is PR with a purpose.

Craig can be reached at:

Tags:  ABAG Members  Adventures in Philanthropy  And Now A Word from Our Members  Communications  Marketing  Members' Memo  PR  Social Media  Weinberg Foundation 

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#ABAGMember Baltimore Ravens. Our Team - Our Community.

Posted By Buffy Beaudoin-Schwartz, Monday, January 14, 2013

UPDATED February 4, 2013

Big congratulations to #ABAGMember The Baltimore Ravens, Superbowl Champions! We are so proud of the team. Our Team. Our Community. Congratulations, Baltimore. 

January 14, 2013

We are so proud of #ABAGMember, The Baltimore Ravens, for their big win on Saturday to clinch a chance at the AFC Championship title against the New England Patriots this coming weekend!

The team and the players are committed to bringing people together and generating goodwill in the community through their exciting play and continued wins – we are an excited #Ravensnation.

But, did you know that the team and players are committed to assisting the community throughout the year in a different way?

They are, and we are proud that the Baltimore Ravens are a member of The Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers, and as a team, are focused on making a difference in our community in a variety of ways, including:

The Baltimore Ravens All Community Team Foundation serves as a separate nonprofit entity of the team's community outreach efforts. The Ravens All Community Team Foundation is committed to improving, encouraging, and enabling the healthy development of youth in the Baltimore area, as well as other parts of the state of Maryland and has designed grant programs to encourage healthy youth activities through:

· Ravens Youth Football Grant

The Ravens All Community Team Foundation (RACTF) provides equipment and apparel to qualifying nonprofit youth football organizations through the Ravens Youth Football Grant.

· Baltimore Ravens Scholarship Program

The Baltimore Ravens established this scholarship program to enable local youth to continue their education on a collegiate level. The team has a long-standing history of service to local communities and this fund supports those who do the same.

· Ravens Plan in Motion

The Ravens Plan in Motion project provides grants of up to $5,000 to qualifying nonprofit organizations that create and/or continue programs or projects promoting physical fitness and nutrition education.

The Ravens also have an All Community Team (ACT) with the mission to increase corporate and community awareness of the Ravens All Community Team Foundation, player foundations, and associated local charitable organizations through a season-long NFL football competition between area and regional Baltimore-based business leaders and companies. The All Community Team is a partnership among the Ravens organization, the players and members of the corporate community.

As former RACTF Executive Director Melanie LeGrande mentioned in a previous ABAG Adventures in Philanthropy blog post: "The Baltimore Ravens have a strong commitment to serving children and families in need in our area. As we all know, strategic philanthropy and collective impact are key to making a long-term difference. The team and its players have many such initiatives.”

Given that the Ravens have a strong commitment to the community, in addition to appearances by Ravens players, coaches and staff, the team assists hundreds of charities and nonprofit organizations through in-kind donations of team memorabilia, through a variety of community programs, and through ticket give-aways to volunteers through The Honors Row effort.

And, Ravens players are very active in the community through individual foundations and giving efforts of their own, including players like:

· Ray Lewis

· Ray Rice

· Torrey Smith

· Ed Reed

· Michael Oher

· Jameel McCLain

· Lardarius Webb

· Matt Birk

· Anquan Boldin

· James Ihedigbo

· Paul Kruger

· Vonta Leach

· Haloti Ngata

· Bernard Pollard

· LaQuan Williams

Learn more about the charitable endeavors of the Baltimore Ravens All Community Team Foundation.

We thank the Ravens for the goodwill and cheer that they continue to bring our community - not just this coming week - but throughout the year.

Go Ravens!

Tags:  ABAG  ABAG Members  Baltimore  Ravens 

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Measurement Inside and Out

Posted By Kelly Medinger, Monday, April 16, 2012
April 16, 2012


By Kelly Medinger, Program and Communications Associate, Marion I. & Henry J. Knott Foundation

We often talk about the importance of measuring success in philanthropy.

"If it doesn't get measured, it doesn't get done,” is a mantra I learned some time ago. And because grantmaking is such a large part of what we do, we naturally focus on how to measure the impact of our grants in the communities we serve.

Yet my perception is that family philanthropy is somewhat unique in this realm of measurement. Specifically, as a family foundation, we measure ourselves not only on our grantmaking, but also on our family membership and engagement.

The Knott Foundation's bylaws state that the two main purposes of the Foundation are: (1) to further charitable activities; and (2) to nurture and sustain family unity. Notably, there are multiple ways to interpret the focus on family unity: first, as a way to unify one's own family; and second, as a way to unify families in the communities we serve. In other words, a commitment to family unity can have both an internal and external focus, serving to unite a family through philanthropic work internally, and simultaneously to help build strong families externally through grantmaking and other assistance.

The way the Knott Foundation evaluates these twin missions of charity and family unity follows a similar internal/external analysis. Internally, we track the Knott family's engagement in the Foundation's mission and work. For example, for only the second time in our 35-year history we are poised to reach the highest number of family members (32) serving on the board. At the same time, our median age forecast is trending down, and average tenure on the board sits at a respectable 15 years.

We also consider it a success that we have three generations of Knott descendants serving as trustees, all conversing with each other on how to continue the legacy of generosity that Marion and Henry Knott began with the creation of the Foundation. Even more illustrative of this focus on family engagement is that 93% of our trustees conducted one or more site visits last year, underscoring the family's direct connection to our community and the Foundation's grantmaking efforts. Meanwhile, externally we look at the program areas we support and how our grants and grantees are affecting positive change in our community.

And so measurement becomes a larger conversation as we work towards the Knott Foundation's twin missions of charity and family unity.

In sum, we measure ourselves both inside and out, with the ultimate goals of unifying the Knott family through participation in the Foundation as well as strengthening the larger family of people living in the Archdiocese of Baltimore.

Tags:  ABAG Members  Evaluation  Knott Foundation  Measurement 

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