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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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Maryland Environmental Health Network (MdEHN)

Posted By Rebecca Ruggles, Monday, March 18, 2013

March 18, 2013

By Rebecca Ruggles
Consultant, The Green Funders Affinity Group, Director, Maryland Environmental Health Network (MdEHN)

ABAG is hosting a new project these days. If you check the project tab on our website, you’ll see the Maryland Environmental Health Network (MdEHN) has been added. It was already impressive list: the Baltimore Neighborhood Collaborative, the Baltimore Integration Partnership, the Maryland Community Foundation Association, and the Baltimore Workforce Funders Collaborative.

I’m the Director of MdEHN, a project that grew out of my work with the Green Funders, an ABAG affinity group focused on the environment, sustainability and community greening. Betsy Ringel and Lara Hall at the Blaustein Philanthropic Group, and Margie Roswell with the affiliated Roswell Family Fund, were instrumental in educating me about how environment and human health are linked.

With Blaustein Philanthropic Group support, and former ABAG President Betsy Nelson’s blessing, we launched an exploratory project in the winter of 2012. We wanted to find out if there was a need for a forum to discuss and take action on environmental health issues in Maryland.

The answer came back "Yes” in the form of robust attendance at our monthly meetings, and the almost instant formation of a strong Steering group representing health professions, consumer groups, health advocates, and Maryland based organizations addressing aspects of environmental health.

By spring of 2012, we morphed into the Maryland Environmental Health Network. We began working on our first publication over the summer. We hired a second staff member in the fall, and became a formally sponsored ABAG project by the end of 2012.

As our work has expanded and taken on a life of its own, I’ve been fascinated by how our four funders have each contributed to filling out our agenda in a way that mirrors the concerns of the organizations and professionals who have joined the Network.

The Jacob and Hilda Blaustein Foundation gave us a firm focus on toxics (including both chemicals in consumer products and pesticides). The Zanvyl and Isabelle Krieger Fund added an emphasis on how child welfare is linked to environmental factors.

The Abell Foundation funded our Children’s Environmental Health Specialist who focuses on enhancing environmental health education in City Schools. And the Town Creek Foundation pushed us to think about advocacy and to bring our health perspective to bear on a range of statewide environmental issues. Town Creek also helped us publish our Children’s’ Environmental Health Progress Report, which has proven to be a valuable tool for both policy discussions and outreach.

Without any one of these funders, MdEHN would be a different project – or perhaps not be happening at all.

We’re excited to be officially a member of the ABAG family this year and look forward to what’s ahead in 2013.

Tags:  Environment  Eye on Philanthropy  March 2013 Members' Memo  MdEHN 

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What 10 Women Taught United Way

Posted By Natalie Dixon, Monday, March 18, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, March 27, 2013

March 18, 2013

By Natalie Dixon
Assistant Director of Major Gifts, United Way of Central Maryland

Twenty years ago, when fundraisers at United Way of Central Maryland solicited large donations, they focused on executives – who, in almost all cases, were men. Leaving out women wasn’t intentional – a strategy to connect with them just hadn’t been considered.

Some passionate high-powered female volunteers urged United Way to rethink the way fundraising was occurring – the existing formula was excluding a large, generous and naturally philanthropic group.

The stats support it.

In nearly every income group, women give more than men, and by nearly twice as much. Businesses owned by women account for 40 percent of all privately-held firms. Of the top wealth holders in the U.S., 46.5 percent are women. Women outlive men by an average of seven years – leaving them in charge of financial affairs, if they weren’t already. And though gender inequalities in salary still persist, women are earning more today than ever before in history.

All of these statistics add up to the fact that women are powerful decision-makers when it comes to philanthropy.

The group of United Way female volunteers felt so strongly about this that 10 of them came together to form United Way of Central Maryland’s Women’s Leadership Council in 2000. That small Baltimore-based group is now 1,600 women strong across central Maryland, each of whom donates at least $1,000 annually to United Way. It’s a movement that’s spread across the country, too – the Women’s Leadership Council is now a national network of 50,000 women raising more than $1 billion, united by a mission of strengthening communities, one family at a time.

What sets these women apart from the way men typically get involved in philanthropy is the hands-on nature of their contributions. Beyond an annual financial gift, members of United Way of Central Maryland’s Women’s Leadership Council invest their time, professional expertise and talent to advance causes they care passionately about – eliminating chronic poverty and improving the lives of women and children throughout the region.

So in honor of Women’s History Month, we salute all of the women who have dug deep, rolled up their sleeves and made an impact in our community. And because women are the "fairer sex,” we’ll thank the men too.


Tags:  A Word From Our Members  And Now  March 2013 Members' Memo  Philanthropy  Women  Women's History Month 

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Recent Reports from the Field

Posted By Buffy Beaudoin-Schwartz, Monday, March 18, 2013

March 2013

Recent reports of interest from the field:

Advancing Human Rights: The State of Global Foundation Grantmaking Key Findings (Foundation Center and the International Human Rights Funders Group)

As the South Goes: Philanthropy and Social Justice in the US South (Grantmakers for Southern Progress)

Getting Started With Data-Driven Decision Making: A Workbook (NTEN)

Thank you to our national membership association, The Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers, for compiling much of this information.

Tags:  March 2013 Members' Memo  Recent Reports from the Field 

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