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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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Top Five Ways Grantmakers are Utilizing the Standards for Excellence® Program

Posted By Tausi Suedi, Tuesday, April 4, 2017

By Amy Coates Madsen, Director, Standards for Excellence Institute®, Maryland Nonprofits

All around the Free State, more and more grantmakers are utilizing the Standards for Excellence program. The Standards for Excellence program helps nonprofits live by the Standards for Excellence: An Ethics and Accountability Code for the Nonprofit Sector, a set of 67 standards for good nonprofit governance and management. The Standards for Excellence Institute, a project of Maryland Nonprofits, offers a host of high-quality educational materials and training programs to help nonprofits achieve and embrace these leading standards. Organizations demonstrate to funders (and everyone else!) that they operate in a way consistent with these high standards by participating in the Institute’s accreditation and recognition programs. Nonprofits that earn the Seal of Excellence can display it prominently and it also becomes part of their GuideStar profiles.

In Annapolis, the Community Foundation of Anne Arundel County has added a question about Standards for Excellence achievement to its grant applications. Melissa Curtin, Executive Director, stated, " Our confidence in an organization's focus on efficiency, effectiveness, integrity and transparency is increased significantly when an organization has earned the Seal."  

Prince George’s County Department of Social Services (PGDSS) is awarding extra points to organizations that receive the Standards. Additionally, the Prince George’s County Department of Housing and Community Development requests the list of Standards for Excellence accredited and recognized groups when they are undertaking their grants review process.


The Horizon Foundation, based in Columbia, Maryland, has eligibility criteria for its Level III funding opportunities that require either Maryland Nonprofits Standards for Excellence, BBB Standards of Accountability (or a similar industry specific standard) by the time of the grant award.

Kaiser Permanente of the Mid-Atlantic States is sponsoring a cohort of organizations in Baltimore to strengthen their governance and management capacity and earn the Seal of Excellence, combined with leadership development and peer learning.  T. Rowe Price Foundation is also sponsoring a cohort of organizations West Baltimore to strengthen their capacity, in part, utilizing the Standards for Excellence. 

The Standards for Excellence program is now offered under license by regional, statewide and national partners all around the country. 

The Community Foundation of Northeast Alabama (CFNEA) offers training and coaching for organizations interested in being accredited by the Standards for Excellence Institute®, and sets aside additional funding available exclusively for Standards accredited organizations.

“It is imperative that not-for-profits of all sizes be effective, efficient, credible and transparent as they strive to meet critical community needs,” says Jennifer S. Maddox, President and CEO of the Community Foundation of Northeast Alabama. “We believe not-for-profit organizations are our partners in achieving the mission of the Community Foundation of Northeast Alabama. The Standards for Excellence® accreditation gives us confidence in the grants we make.” 

Other examples of foundations moving in this direction are plentiful. 

• Seven foundations in Pennsylvania (where the Standards for Excellence program is offered by the Pennsylvania Association of Nonprofit Organizations) encourage their grantees and other nonprofits to participate in the Standards for Excellence training and accreditation process (Phoenixville Community Health Foundation; Westmoreland County Community Foundation; Grable Foundation; Philadelphia Foundation; Montgomery County Foundation; Adams County Community Foundation; and the HBE Foundation.)

• Eleven foundations in Ohio (where the Standards for Excellence program is offered by the Ohio Association of Nonprofit Organizations) do the same (Richland County Foundation; Licking County Foundation; Dayton Community Foundation; the Cleveland Foundation; the Columbus Foundation; Toledo Foundation; Greater Cincinnati Foundation; Findlay-Hancock Foundation; Gund Foundation; Gar Foundation; and the Mathile Family Foundation).

• In Oklahoma, numerous foundations ask whether potential grantees have completed Standards for Excellence comprehensive training programs, which are offered through Standards for Excellence replication partner, the Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits.

Funders in Maryland can utilize the Standards for Excellence as a due diligence tool and as a resource for their grantees – and for nonprofits they aren’t able to support.  To learn more about how your foundation or governmental agency can benefit from the Standards for Excellence program, contact Amy Coates Madsen at  

Based on a blog originally published by the Peak Grantmaking (formerly Grants Managers Network), February 2017.

Top Five Ways Funders are Using Standards for Excellence in Grant Making

1. Providing support to nonprofits interested in Standards for Excellence training or accreditation.
2. Asking if an organization has earned the Seal of Excellence as part of the proposal or grant application process.
3. Awarding extra points or extra credit in the review process for organizations that have earned the Seal of Excellence.
4. Sponsoring cohorts of grantees to get consulting support to meet the Standards.
5. Referring nonprofits to the Standards resources such as the self-assessment, financial policies, or board composition analysis. 

Tags:  Adventures in Philanthropy  Maryland Nonprofits  nonprofits  philanthropy 

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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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Top Ten Philanthropy Resources: February part 2

Posted By Tausi Suedi, Monday, March 7, 2016
The top ten philanthropy resources from around the sector including suggestions for how foundations can help men and boys of color, best practices for a rapid response program, latest data on millennial grantmakers, and strategies for moving towards providing unrestricted funding.

1. 9 Ways Foundations Can Help Men and Boys of Color 
Tonya Allen, Skillman Foundation, and Robert Ross, California Endowment, assess the current conversation around race and inequality spearheaded by the “Black Lives Matter” movement following protests in Ferguson, Baltimore, and New York to provide 9 suggestions for foundation involvement.
2. The Benefits of Aligning Strategy, Evaluations, and Operations 
Katelyn Mack promotes integration across strategy, evaluation, and operation to ensure your foundation is united in pursuing a common mission.
3. Benefits of a Rapid Response Program 
Rapid response programs can give way to major policy influence that supports one’s community mission. Reflecting upon their rapid response program, the Connect U.S. Fund lists 5 benefits and best practices for this type of initiative.
5. Five Ways to Improve Diversity, Equity & Inclusion at Family Foundations 
Relationship building is central to Audrey Haberman and Sindhu Knotz’s suggested five best practices for family foundations to embrace diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Four Lessons for Authentic Nonprofit Collaboration (Connecticut Council for Philanthropy)
Lauren McCargar of the Perrin Family foundation identifies four ways to reflexively promote better collaboration while embracing your organization’s own values and mission.
6. The Myth of Double-Dipping, and the Destructiveness of Restricted Funding 
A waste of time, destructive, and burnout-producing are three attributes Vu Le gives to restricted funding. Rather than promoting financial transparency, it distracts nonprofits from their core missions.
7. Opinion: It’s Not Foundation Money but Culture and Talent That Can Change the World 
With new studies suggesting organizational culture matters as much inside an organization as outside, non-profit and foundation leaders should follow the lead of their for-profit counterparts in making culture a central focus. Fostering talent will keep great employees and attract new ones in the future who have a commitment to the organizations mission.
8. Philanthropy Lessons: The Power Dynamic 
While power differentials are clearly at play between grantmakers and grantees, Jenna Wachtmann uses her experiences both managing grants and now working for the Ball Brothers Foundation to suggest strategies for better partnerships.
9. Supporting a Foundation’s Move towards Unrestricted Support 
The Center for Effective Philanthropy recently surveyed the sector to find the best strategies for implementing unrestricted support. They recommend building trusting relationships with grantees, updating application and reporting requirements, and preparing for internal challenges to place foundations on the right track to successful implementation.
10. What We Know About Millennial Grantmakers 
There are undeniable trends unique to millennials across society, including philanthropy. Among other findings, Stephen Alexander of Exponent Philanthropy identifies an increased likelihood to prioritize field of interest/funding area needs and an increased startup investment as defining characteristics of philanthropy’s future.

Tags:  philanthropy 

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Top Ten Philanthropy Resources: February part 1

Posted By Tausi Suedi, Monday, March 7, 2016
The top ten philanthropy resources from around the sector including trends in philanthropy, developing a theory of philanthropy, providing general operating support grants, and storytelling in philanthropy.

1. 10 Trends in Charitable Giving 
Suzanne Allen outlines ten new trends in philanthropy that are driving the facts we see in the latest philanthropy reports released at the New Year.
2. A Checkup on PRIs 
Margaret Laws reflects on California HealthCare Foundation’s 2010-launched PRI (Program-Related Investments) to invest in for-profit companies who were advancing CHCF’s mission.
3. Could Giving Circles Rebuild Philanthropy from the Bottom Up? 
Giving circles have democratized the practice of philanthropy. Angela Eikenberry explores the opportunities these associations can hold for donors looking to, “change themselves and the structures that perpetuate poverty, inequality, violence and discrimination.”
4. How We’re ‘Putting Racism on the Table’: The Meyer Foundation 
Following participation in WRAG’s recent program launch, “Putting Racism on the Table,” the Meyer Foundation board and staff are implementing their own conversations. They addressed their personal implicit biases in hopes of creating shared framework from which they can all talk about racial issues.
5. Reflections on Developing a Theory of Philanthropy 
The Palix Foundation developed a theory on which their organization operates to better understand the goals they aim to achieve. President Michelle Gagnon’s reflections on this process provide suggestions for other organizations to do the same.
6. Rethinking the Funding Equation: Can General Operating Support Become the New Normal? 
Jen Teunon, Medina Foundation, argues funding only specific programs within nonprofits creates instability for the organization; programs cannot operate without directors and coordinators. While general operating grants are not yet the norm, there is positive change in that direction.
7. The Secret Sauce of Building Community Philanthropy 
Audrey Haberman shares six points, “the secret sauce,” to building community philanthropy as learned through her experience with the Building Community Philanthropy Initiative. With a willingness to learn and try again, this process can be more rewarding than it is difficult.
8. The State of Storytelling in Philanthropy
Examples of best practices for philanthropy to further incorporate storytelling as a tool to further their missions.
9. To Avoid Being a Supporter of the Status Quo, Ask ‘So What?’ 
While data and outcome metrics are important to understanding impact, they must be weathered with the, “So what?” question. To go against the status quo of reducing opportunity and expecting all individuals to rise to the same level, philanthropists must dig deeper than evaluation measures in their grantmaking.
10. Why Strategic Philanthropy (Almost) Always Involves Advocacy 
Scott Nielsen argues that philanthropy and advocacy are inching ever closer together for two reasons: the political scene is becoming ever more ideologically polarized and collaboration between philanthropy and advocacy is creating new opportunities.

Tags:  philanthropy 

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Rethinking the Funding Equation: Can General Operating Support Become the New Normal?

Posted By Tausi Suedi, Friday, February 19, 2016

February 19, 2016

Jennifer Teunon, Executive Director of the Medina Foundation.

Foundations seemed so mysterious to me when I started my career in nonprofits.

equationAt the time, back in 1993, I was a novice grantwriter for a tiny Seattle organization called Treehouse. As a young professional just getting started in the field, I was eager to learn as much as possible. I spent countless hours researching guidelines and putting my newly minted English degree to use writing as many proposals as I could.

It should come as no surprise that I learned quite a bit about the foundation world. But as I look back on that experience, there was one proposal that stood out — and that guides how I approach my work today as a foundation leader.

During my research, I had discovered a foundation that seemed like a perfect match for Treehouse’s Little Wishes program, a program that paid for things that every child deserves such as school pictures, Boys & Girls Club memberships and sports fees.

I thought it was a promising sign when I heard from the foundation’s program officer, who agreed that we may have a fit, although she told me that her foundation wouldn’t pay for staffing. Since I hadn’t included any of my time or our executive director’s time in the budget, I wasn’t sure what she meant. It turned out that she didn’t even want to acknowledge the Little Wishes Program Coordinator in the program budget.

I was scared to contradict a funder, so I revised the budget to only include the funding that directly paid for children’s needs and activities — even though there was no way the program could run without the coordinator. In the end, after an onerous application process that took a lot of my time, we didn’t even get the grant.

That was the first time that I truly realized the importance of general operating support: unrestricted funding that organizations can apply to any part of their organization.

If every funder only pays for a specific program or a specific line item, an organization becomes fragmented and unstable. Without general operating support, an organization doesn’t have the money for staffing, rent, technology, training, or even the phone bill. And, without a strong infrastructure, programs that improve our communities can’t happen.

Not Yet the Norm
While there has been increasing recognition of the importance of funding general operating support, it is not yet the norm.

Various surveys show general operating support accounts for between 20-25 percent of grantmaking, although that number seems to be gradually increasing. It helps that the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy, Grantmakers for Effective Organizations, the Nonprofit Finance Fund, the Center for Effective Philanthropy and many other leaders in the field have identified unrestricted funding as a best practice.

There are promising signs of change on both sides of the funding equation.

Several foundations are shifting their funding. Most notably, the Ford Foundation announced last year that it will strive to double the total it gives in general operating support to 40 percent of its grantmaking budget. Ford — with a grantmaking budget of more than $500 million a year — is making a powerful statement that will hopefully inspire other foundations.

Nonprofit leaders, meanwhile, are also raising their voices on this issue. While I stood silent as a professional working at Treehouse, today’s leaders are starting to speak up about the great need for unrestricted funding. Vu Le, a Seattle nonprofit leader, has received national recognition for his humorous, spot-on blog that contains several posts about this issue.

Yet with all of this momentum, why does general operating support still account for only a relative fraction of all grantmaking?

I believe it is primarily because foundations want to understand and quantify their own impact. By earmarking dollars to a specific program, many foundations hope to draw a line from the dollars they give to the outcomes nonprofits achieve.

But grants are often too small to cause a measurable outcome. Philanthropy Northwest’s six-state Trends in Northwest Giving Report has shown that the median grant size has been under $10,000 since it first began reporting on regional grantmaking in 2004. That means organizations need to piece multiple funding sources together to pay for their programs, and that also means that one foundation can’t take the credit.

This piecemeal approach threatens the health of nonprofits. One Seattle-based organization, Solid Ground, provides shelter, food, transportation and other basic services annually to over 60,000 people in need. It has an annual budget of about $23.5 million, of which 80 percent is government funded. All of that government funding is restricted, which is not unusual. To supplement that funding, Solid Ground wrote 104 requests to foundations in 2015, and only 9 of those were for unrestricted dollars.

One can quickly see the great challenges this presents. The amount of writing, reporting and matching specific dollars to specific programs takes staff time away from the important work of their mission. There is no guarantee that each program will get fully funded, and a lack of unrestricted dollars prevents an organization from responding to the changing needs that they see firsthand.

A Grantmaker’s Perspective
Since 2003, I have worked for the Medina Foundation, a Seattle-based family foundation founded in 1947.

We grant about $4 million a year to local organizations addressing homelessness, education, hunger, and other basic needs. Fortunately, I’ve never had to make the case for general operating funding because it is something the board has always understood and believed in. This may have something to do with our founder, Norton Clapp, a businessman who knew that you need a strong infrastructure to succeed in business, and that this must carry over to the nonprofit sector.

In an excerpt from his writing over 40 years ago, he said that he wanted Medina funds to “be directed to improve the quality of organizations and their management and their operations so that their own resources would be used more effectively.”

In 2015, 72 percent of Medina’s grant dollars were for general operating support. Some organizations still ask us to fund a capital campaign or a program that they need matching dollars to support, but I envision that 72 percent increasing based on what we hear from our grantees. Over and over, organizations tell us that unrestricted support allows them to be innovative, meet the community’s needs as they shift, and help them operate more effectively.

I asked Medina Foundation Board President, Piper Henry-Keller, why she thinks unrestricted support is so ingrained in the strategy of the Foundation. Here’s what she had to say:

“Organizations that are doing the work are the experts. They are the ones who see the needs and know what could be done. We don’t feel that it is our role to dictate. We rely on our staff to find organizations that are doing good work, and then we put our trust in those organizations. It’s important to trust organizations enough to give them the freedom to accomplish their mission in the way that works best for them.”

It’s important to know that giving general operating grants doesn’t mean giving up on outcomes. We do a lot of work on the front end of a grant: reading proposals, going on site visits, meeting with executive directors and board members, reviewing financials and, ideally, seeing a program in action. We look for strong leadership, a clear mission that aligns with ours, and effective programs that are truly meeting the needs of a community. We support organizations that engage in thoughtful planning around financials, goals and outcomes.

If we make a grant, it’s because we believe in the organization and we want to see the same outcomes they want to see. But we always need to remember that we are investing in their work, not ours.

Of course we want to make a difference. But it can’t be at the expense of the health of the organization. We ask for final reports from our grantees and when we learn that a tutoring program helped 62 percent of its students gain one or more grade levels in reading; a food program distributed 15.3 million pounds of food to feed 1.4 million people; a housing program moved 352 formerly homeless families into permanent homes; and a domestic violence program responded to 10,364 calls from survivors, we know that we helped with those outcomes in some way.

We contributed to them; we can’t take credit for them. And, unless we are fully funding the work, that has to be enough.

Tags:  philanthropy 

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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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Summer Funding Collaborative In Baltimore

Posted By Tausi Suedi, Friday, February 12, 2016

February 12, 2016

By Jonathan Rondeau, President & CEO, Family League of Baltimore; Sheryl Goldstein, Managing Director, Programs and Grants, The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation; and Gena O'Keefe, Senior Associate, The Annie E. Casey Foundation

In August of 2014 community partners, funders, families, and youth were all transitioning from summer programs that had served over 22,000 students. While the attention shifted to the school year, three funders, the Annie E. Casey Foundation, Family League of Baltimore, and the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation were beginning discussions about the similarities and differences between each organization’s summer grantmaking process. Realizing we were asking similar questions and that we could strengthen our process by learning from each other, we decided to draft and issue a common application for summer funding in 2015. The goals of this collaboration were to:

·         Increase access for low-income, Baltimore City children to summer learning opportunities through coordination of resources

·         Create common funding processes and requirements that yield standardized system level data

·         Create a common definition of quality for summer learning programs

·         Promote inclusion of children with disabilities in summer learning programs

To meet these goals we set up a schedule of weekly phone calls, scheduled clear action items and deliverables, and created a Dropbox resource folder where everyone could share their RFPs, reports, and rubrics from the previous summer. As three organizations with different priorities, identifying how we would preserve our individual funding priorities while using a common application and rubric was a challenge. In the end we solved it by creating a common rubric with standard definitions for scoring each question, and then applying weights to individual questions and sections based on the priorities of the funder.  

The 2015 Summer Funding Collaborative was successful. We received 114 applications and funded 77 organizations that served over 10,000 Baltimore City youth. We were able to use the data we obtained through this joint process to map programs throughout Baltimore City, and coordinate efforts to increase funding in specific neighborhoods.  We also created a common application, scoring rubric, report, and site visit protocol.  Programs funded reported over 80% average daily attendance and an increase in the number of programs including and supporting youth with disabilities.

In Summer 2016, nine organizations are participating in the Collaborative and the application process is now open and can be found at This partnership is a model for how funders can align resources and grantmaking processes to create more summer learning opportunities for all Baltimore’s youth. If you are interested in participating in the Summer Funding Collaborative next year, or would like to align your reporting or site visit process this summer please let us know by emailing us at

Tags:  ABAG Member  Philanthropy 

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ABAG Member, Knott Foundation Featured in Catholic Review

Posted By Tausi Suedi, Thursday, February 11, 2016

February 4, 2016


By Kelly Medinger of Knott Foundation 


The February 2016 Catholic Review magazine features an article by Mary K. Tilghman that explores how our grants to Catholic schools improve students’ lives. 


Student_Reading.jpgEducation is our largest program area, and we’re proud to have awarded over $4 million to Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Baltimore over the last five years.  In 2015 alone, we awarded just over $1 million to Catholic schools, which equates to approximately 45% of our aggregate grantmaking distributions that year. 


Beyond these numbers, however, is a story at each and every school illustrating how students are benefiting from the “whole package” that Catholic education offers:  the character development it nurtures in students; the moral stability it provides to the community; the motivation it provides to students who are excelling academically; and the doors it opens for students who may have limited access to opportunity. 


Our founders believed that education was the key to success, and that hard work combined with access to a quality education was the foundation from which all people could become active citizens, ready to give back and become leaders in their communities.


We thank the Catholic Review for highlighting our work in this area, and we hope you enjoy reading the article yourself. 

Tags:  ABAG Member  Philanthropy 

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The Giving Life: Stories About the Purpose, Passion, and Power of Generosity and Service – Jilliane Shear

Posted By Buffy Beaudoin-Schwartz, Monday, March 3, 2014
March 3, 2014
In November 2013 we held an inspirational evening showcasing individual stories of generosity and service.

Seven people - philanthropists, activists, community, and public service workers – each told a 5-minute true, personal tale about the transformative power of leading a "giving life.”

Presented by The Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers’ Betsy Nelson Legacy Fund and The Stoop Storytelling Series, the evening highlighted giving and honored the goal of the Betsy Nelson Legacy Fund – to encourage and promote philanthropy in our community.

With the theatre alive from the music of Baltimore musicians Letitia VanSant and the Bonafides, The Creative Alliance at the Patterson was filled with members of the Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers, nonprofit partners, friends and members of the community who came together to be inspired by a diverse group of people excited to share their story of giving.

This is the fifth in a series of blog posts designed to bring each story to life. Our hope is that this event and these help to catalyze more giving in our community

Everyone Has a Story. What’s Yours?
"Eight years ago when my daughter was born ... the one thing I knew I wanted to share with her in my life was running.”

Jilliane Shear is a crazy and fun coach who brings happiness and joy to children. She inspires and motivates kids even on days when she’s not feeling so inspired herself.
Read our other blog posts from ABAG's The Giving Life series:  

The Betsy Nelson Legacy Fund aims to share philanthropy's message beyond the ABAG membership and to build connections between charitably-minded people, organizations and institutions to strengthen our community. As the Resource on Grantmaking, Network for Givers, and Voice for Philanthropy, the mission of the Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers is to maximize the impact of philanthropic giving on community life through a growing network of diverse, informed and effective grantmakers.

Tags:  Adventures in Philanthropy  Betsy Nelson Legacy Fund  BNLF  Giving  March 2014 Members' Memo  Philanthropy  The Giving Life 

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The Business of Doing Good

Posted By Celeste Amato, Thursday, June 20, 2013
Updated: Thursday, June 20, 2013

June 20, 2013

By Celeste Amato, President, Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers 

Here at ABAG we focus on telling the story of philanthropy and highlighting the good work and impact of our 145+ membership. We strive to be a consistent voice for philanthropy, and one of the ways we are doing this is through our new monthly column on philanthropy in the Baltimore Business Journal

We are excited for the opportunity and hope you find it useful. 

Below you will find our first column, published on June 18 - let us know what you think!

The Business of Doing Good 

Foundations and nonprofits all too often believe that "the work will speak for itself.”

In most sectors communications to multiple audiences is standard business. Businesses with good ideas want existing customers, new customers and the world to know about their products or services. That’s how businesses grow. That need, in the philanthropic sector, is really no different.

Foundations invest in improved communities and quality of life through research and development, and in project and program implementation primarily through nonprofits. When an effective model for positive community benefit is identified and successfully tested how are we letting people know? How are we communicating with potential partners who can help us grow a model to scale and benefit more people? We aren’t - at least not often enough, not consistently enough and not effectively enough.

We don’t always see ourselves as the innovative business sector that we are – the sector where models for social change and benefit can be tested and proven. Typical news releases often focus on dollars out the door rather than impact achieved with foundation support. The need to change the way we talk about our work and the reach of our communications is becoming increasingly clear. Research from the Philanthropy Awareness Initiative (PAI) suggests that philanthropy faces an "awareness deficit” even among the most engaged citizens in our communities. Only four in 10 can name a foundation. Only one in 10 can identify a foundation’s impact on an issue they care about.

We need to talk more, not just to each other, but to the audiences beyond the individual projects we implement and the immediate geography and community we benefit.

Increased federal scrutiny of philanthropy is also pushing us to step up our communication efforts. Over the last several years there has been considerable activity in Washington on budget and tax matters that could have a significant effect on the future of the nonprofit and philanthropic sector. Even incentives for individual charitable giving are under attack.

Ours is a sector free of normal business constraints and uniquely positioned to take an adventurous approach to investment in problem solving and quality of life for all citizens. Sharing our business stories can help spread promising practices, earn champions, attract new ideas, and encourage more giving. And it can combat the awareness deficit among public and policy leaders.

It is wonderful work to explore and implement ways to make communities better places to live for all citizens – and the vital role of this sector in shaping the future of Baltimore and Maryland is why I am excited to write this column for the BBJ.

Let’s seize every opportunity to talk about the business of doing good.

Celeste Amato is President of the Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers (ABAG). As The Resource on Grantmaking, The Network for Givers and The Voice for Philanthropy, ABAG is a membership organization of more than 145 private and community foundations, donor advised funds, and corporations with strategic grantmaking programs - representing the vast majority of institutional giving in Maryland. Celeste can be reached at:

Tags:  Adventures in Philanthropy  Baltimore Business Journal  Celeste Amato  July/August 2013 Members' Memo  Nonprofits  Philanthropy 

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Top Philanthropy Blogs

Posted By Buffy Beaudoin-Schwartz, Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Great recent blog post by The Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers on the top philanthropy blogs!

What do you think - any to add?  

April 18, 2013 

The Forum's FORUM

Dawn Townsend of Conference of Southwest Foundations recently surveyed regional association staff to find out the top philanthropy blogs and bloggers. These are the blogs that regional association staffers are reading everyday to keep on top of the sector.

Tags:  blogs  Forum  philanthropy 

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Happy 4th @TwBirthday to Us!

Posted By Buffy Beaudoin-Schwartz, Monday, April 29, 2013
Paste embed cde from YouTube or other video sharing service.

"@ABAGrantmakers Happy 4th @TwBirthday! You've been around since 29 April 2009!"
This is the Tweet we received at ABAG this morning.
4 years, 2,680 followers, 4,461 Updates.

We tweet daily. 

And receiving this Tweet reminded me to take a step back and embrace why:

We use Twitter to communicate with our members and cultivate relationships, promote the good work of philanthropy, "listen” and obtain information pertinent to our work, and be part of the national philanthropic dialogue taking place via Twitter, all day – every day. As a membership organization of foundations, funds and corporate giving programs ranging in size, staff, resources and capacity, we are continually looking at how to better our communications with and on behalf of our members.

As The Resource on Grantmaking, we provide critical information and services to the philanthropic and nonprofit communities. As The Network for Givers in our region, we convene grantmakers and others to address issues and create lasting solutions. And, as The Voice for Philanthropy, we represent the philanthropic sector to key audiences, including the media, legislators, and national organizations, raising public awareness and understanding about the role and impact of philanthropy on our society.

In order to enhance our ability to be the resource, network and voice of and for our members, we have been utilizing social media, and in particular Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin for four specific reasons: To Communicate, Disseminate, Concentrate and Participate.

Communicate: As an additional avenue to communicate with our members.
Disseminate: To "Tell the Story of Philanthropy” by highlighting the importance of charitable giving and how donating to one’s community can bring about real change - which is the work of our member institutions.
Concentrate: To "listen” to what others are saying about issues we care about, and to utilize these opportunities to gather knowledge, information and resources.
Participate: And, to be a part of, and help to shape the conversation about philanthropy that is taking place all day, every day, through social media.

Our Twitter page is:

• Allowing members to interact with one another in a new venue, in a new way.
• Providing a new venue for ABAG members to interact with others interested in philanthropy.
• Helping ABAG promote their good work and spread the word about the impact of philanthropy to a wider audience, which is part of our strategic plan.
• Allowing ABAG to gather and provide information about philanthropy with individuals, members and partner organizations regionally and nationally.
• Assisting ABAG members to become more amenable to using Twitter and other social media opportunities.

ABAG has incorporated the following opportunities via Twitter as part of our overall communications strategy:

Promote Philanthropy: spread the word about the good work of our member foundations
Reach Key Audiences: reach our identified key audiences regarding the impact of philanthropy in a new way
Media Resource: reach members of the media with ongoing philanthropy stories, stats and trend information
Support Partners: support our partner organizations by highlighting their information and resources
Engage Members: engage current and prospective members, especially the next generation
Re-Purpose Information: utilize already-developed and packaged information and publications
Internal Management: read, process, and manage philanthropy stories faster and more proactively – which translates to other opportunities to package the information (website, eNews, member outreach, Tweets, etc.)
Learn and Share: share and obtain information, ideas and best practices with other philanthropists and practitioners through a new venue
Shape Conversation: take part in, and perhaps help to shape the ongoing regional/national dialogue about philanthropy
Have Fun: be creative and have fun while highlighting the power and impact of philanthropy

4 years, 2,680 followers, 4,461 Updates. The Voice for Philanthropy. Happy 4th @TwBirthday to us.

Tags:  communications  marketing  Philanthropy  Social media  Tweet  Twitter 

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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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Betsy Nelson Legacy Fund Update

Posted By Mary Louise Preis, Frederick G. and Mary Louise Preis Charitable Gift Fund, Monday, March 4, 2013
Updated: Monday, March 4, 2013
Updated March 4, 2013

By Mary Louise Preis, Frederick G. and Mary Louise Preis Charitable Gift Fund

2013 is an important year for all of us involved in the Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers. This year we are "Celebrating 30 Years of Philanthropy: Shaping the Next 30 Years of Giving.
As we appreciate our past, we continue to have an opportunity to support the future of ABAG and philanthropy through the Betsy Nelson Legacy Fund, established by the ABAG Board several months ago to honor former ABAG President Betsy Nelson. And we are excited that many individuals and organizations jumped right in to support the Fund that will carry her name and vision on in Baltimore for the next generations.
To date, the BNLF has received 162 donations from ABAG members and friends, totaling $290,000. We are very grateful and wish to thank everyone who has invested in the BNLF so far!

The Betsy Nelson Legacy Fund at ABAG aims to share philanthropy's message beyond the ABAG membership and to build connections between charitably-minded people, organizations and institutions to strengthen our community - just as Betsy has done over the years. The Board envisions that the Fund will support activities that will promote and inspire philanthropy beyond ABAG's membership and current efforts: maybe present an annual speaker for the nonprofit and philanthropic community and the public to promote philanthropy and community involvement, or perhaps respond to a request or a need presented by the community to ABAG.
The Fund will also help to ensure ABAG's sustainability for the future. The goal is to promote and inspire and facilitate philanthropy by keeping us talking and working together.

By institutionalizing Betsy's charitable values, the Fund will strengthen the organization she has built, maintain its leading position as the voice of philanthropy, expand the network of givers and remain Baltimore's best resource for grantmaking. And it will be the opportunity for ABAG to share its vision to strengthen Baltimore with even more people and organizations into the future.

Contributions continue to be accepted for the Fund - you may click here to donate

I am honored to have led the Board's efforts to develop our Betsy Nelson Legacy Fund and look forward to your support and your thoughts. As Betsy often says, and our wonderful new President Celeste Amato reaffirms, "we are all better together through philanthropy.” We think this Fund will help make sure that thought remains with us!

Tags:  ABAG  Adventures in Philanthropy  And Now A Word from Our Members  Betsy Nelson Legacy Fund  February 2013 Members' Memo  Philanthropy 

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Recent Reports from the Field

Posted By Buffy Beaudoin-Schwartz, Tuesday, February 19, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, February 19, 2013

February 2013

Recent reports from the field: 

Diversity, Inclusion and Effective Philanthropy (Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors)

Financial Security and Careers in the Nonprofit and Philanthropic Sector (TIAA-CREF Institute and Independent Sector)

Perspectives on Progress: The Impact Investor Survey (J.P. Morgan and Global Impact Investing Network)

Philanthropy: American History's Greatest Donors, Winter 2013 (Philanthropy Roundtable)

The State of Scaling Social Impact: Results of a National Study of Nonprofits (Social Impact Exchange & Veris)

UnderDeveloped: A National Study of Challenges Facing Nonprofit Fundraising (Evelyn & Walter Haas Jr. Fund and CompassPoint)

What Does the Fiscal Cliff Deal Mean for Nonprofits? (Urban Institute)

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

Tags:  Adventures in Philanthropy  February 2013 Members' Memo  Philanthropy  Recent Reports from the Field 

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Arts Funders Join Forces

Posted By Lara Hall, Blaustein Philanthropic Group, Tuesday, February 19, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, February 19, 2013

February 19, 2013 

By Lara Hall, Blaustein Philanthropic Group 

Have you heard that Baltimore region is the 14th coolest place to live in the U.S., according to Forbes magazine? And that our coolness is largely due to our vibrant arts and culture community?

We who live and work in the Baltimore area know what a treasure we have in our artists and arts organizations. At the same time, the arts are one of our most vulnerable sectors, particularly in tough economic times.

Late last year, a few ABAG members - Jane Brown of the Robert W. Deutsch Foundation, Melissa Warlow of the William G. Baker Fund and I – came together to brainstorm how best to proceed to build funder knowledge of the opportunities and challenges before our arts community and to foster a more coordinated approach to philanthropic giving to the arts.

Clearly, the way forward was the convening of an Arts Affinity Group at ABAG.

We have witnessed the power of other ABAG affinity groups in convening and coalescing funders of all shapes and sizes with mutual programmatic interests; we believe that the moment is ripe for arts funders to come together.

We held our first meeting on February 1st, where fourteen members came together to discuss their arts funding priorities and mutual interests. We have already come up with a long list of topics – supporting financial stability in arts organizations, exploring the intersection of arts and education, and understanding the role of the arts in economic and community development.

Our first program, scheduled for April 3rd at 12:00-1:30, will explore current data and tools for capturing the impact of the arts, especially the economic impact.

We welcome any and all ABAG members to join in the conversation!

ABAG’s Affinity Groups are a great place to learn, share and in some cases give together. I hope you will also take a look at Elisabeth Hyleck’s blog post this month about all of ABAG's Affinity Groups. 

Tags:  Affinity Groups  And Now A Word from Our Members  Arts  Baltimore  Blaustein  February 2013 Members' Memo  Funders  Philanthropy 

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#Baltimore Twives So That Healthcare for the Homeless May Receive

Posted By Buffy Beaudoin-Schwartz, Wednesday, June 13, 2012
June 13, 2012
Guest Blog Post, By Kate Bladow

Thursday, June 14, is Twive and Receive, a 24-hour online giving competition organized by Razoo. Nationally, cities have been encouraged to participate, and over 200 cities have signed up. Each participating city has picked a local nonprofit to support, and the three cities that raise the most will win a share of the $30,000 prize for their selected nonprofit.

Baltimore is one of the participating cities, and a small group of people, most of whom met through Twitter, selected the city's nonprofit: Healthcare for the Homeless, which provides health-related services, education, and advocacy to reduce the incidence and burdens of homelessness.
Together, Stephanie Dickard, Rodney Foxworth, Tracy Gold, Jessica Platt, Keisha Reed, Andrea Snyder, Christina Voll, Gary Williams, and I have been using our combined knowledge of social media, community building, public relations, and Baltimore to create a strategy that brings the city together to support Healthcare for the Homeless.

Want to help and show that #Baltimore is America's Most Charitable City? Here's how:

Schedule a donation for Thursday at To count, it needs to happen on June 14. (If you want to schedule your donation now, use the "Schedule one for Twive and Receive 2012” link under Make Your Donation.)

Join us at Dangerously Delicious Pies in Canton on June 14 from 5:30-7:30 pm to learn about the work of Health Care for the Homeless, celebrate Twive and Receive, and listen to Street Voices, a singing group made up of Health Care for the Homeless' staff.

Tell your friends: tweet (#twivebmore), post on Facebook, send an email, or make a phone call.
With help from everyone, we think Healthcare for the Homeless can win the top prize - $15,000. That's enough to provide basic medical supplies for 150 homeless families.

If Twive and Receive seems familiar to you, it's because this isn't the first online giving competition Razoo has organized. Others include GiveMN, DC Give to the Max Day, and, most recently, Cultures of Giving, in which Baltimore's [ABAG Member] Associated Black Charities raised more than $70,000.
These competitions are part of Razoo's goals of encouraging nonprofits to think innovatively about fundraising and helping nonprofits to engage with millennials and other digitally savvy donors.

To watch the Twive and Receive competition on Thursday, go to and follow #twivereceive or #twivebmore on Twitter.

Kate can be reached at:

Tags:  gen x  giving  millenials  Next Generation  online  philanthropy  technology 

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Giving Circles Connecting

Posted By Buffy Beaudoin-Schwartz, Monday, April 16, 2012
April 16, 2012


By Buffy Beaudoin-Schwartz, ABAG Communications Director

On March 14 over 80 giving circle leaders representing 20 giving circles of various ages and sizes gathered in Annapolis for The Association of Baltimore Area Grantmaker's Annual GivingCircleConnector event, to discuss how different circles define and measure their success.

ABAG has spent the over a decade supporting giving circles because of our mission to promote philanthropy.

Our tagline is "Informing Grantmakers, Improving our Community” and much of what we "do” focuses on assisting members learn about community needs, possible solutions, and effective and efficient grantmaking to address these needs.

Since our formation, ABAG has been interested in promoting philanthropy and cultivating a community of givers, knowing the great needs in the community. Our early hypothesis for championing giving circles was that they would be a terrific way to positively impact the community, as well as a great training ground for philanthropists, which circles (pun intended) back to what ABAG is all about.

This year's event, co-hosted with Anne Arundel Women Giving Together, a giving circle at [ABAG Member] The Community Foundation of Anne Arundel County, gathered our region's giving circle leaders. Some were founding donors, others new to giving circles. Some had a long history of giving, others were relatively new to philanthropy.

All were there to learn and share.

When ABAG first started to work with giving circles and giving initiatives in 2000, to our knowledge, there weren't any in the region. Now, we know of over 25 circles and collaborative giving initiatives – and recognize there are likely more. Based on the information collected we know that that giving circles have brought more than 3,500 new or further engaged donors to the philanthropic table that have pledged more than $5 million dollars the last 12 years to help communities in our region.

Discussion focused on how giving circles are impacting their communities and measuring their success, and focused on grantmaking, philanthropic growth, diversity and philanthropic leadership.

What did we learn?

  • Circles are focusing their grantmaking on funding existing programs and increased visibility for nonprofit partners.
  • Circles are primarily focusing their growth on new dollars, new donors and new conversations.
  • Circles are primarily focusing on diversity across the board – primarily age diversity among donors, but are also looking at more diverse opportunities to participate in the circle, race and geography.
  • Circles are focusing on leadership development through grantmaking, learning opportunities, and committee, volunteer and board opportunities.

In terms of measuring success, circles are primarily looking at grants awarded, but are also looking at the growth of new donors, success in grantmaking overall, circles as leaders in the community, telling the story of giving and creating new conversations about philanthropy, and as catalysts for giving.

Underscored during the day together is the understanding that what makes giving circles so appealing is that they are all unique – and are created and sustained by the donors who sit at the table. There are many interesting differences and commonalities regardless of the composition, structure, and focus of each giving circle.

The gathering was a testament to the collaborative nature of this growing community.

ABAG is pleased to continue to play a role in bringing our region's giving circle community together. We will continue to be the regional resource and hub of giving circle activity, and look forward to continuing to provide information via our GivingCircleConnector Facebook Page and GivingCircleConnector Twitter page. And, we are excited to now offer a new membership category for giving circles in the region. The Baltimore Women's Giving Circle at [ABAG Member]The Baltimore Community Foundation is our first member!

ABAG is proud to serve our region's thriving giving circle community. To learn more about giving circles, visit

Tags:  giving circles  philanthropy  regionalism 

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The Baltimore Ravens Serve Children and Families

Posted By Buffy Beaudoin-Schwartz, Tuesday, November 22, 2011

By Melanie LeGrande
Executive Director, RACTF/Director of Community Relations, [ABAG Member] Baltimore Ravens

"This is our culture, and we’re proud to make a difference."

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. But we cannot forget that in the short-term, there are still those who need our attention. Those who have to choose between holiday meals and keeping the lights on. Those who have to choose between holiday gifts for their children and heat for the winter.

During the holidays, we are happy to say that our players join forces every year to provide meals, gifts and funds to those who desperately need it. Many of the players have been on the receiving end of such distributions and recognize that they are now in a position to return the favor. Additional players know the importance of giving back and take the time to give. 

According to the Maryland Food Bank, there are 466,000 people in the state who are food insecure, meaning they are unsure of where their next meal is coming from. Each year, the Ravens organization and its players commit to making a difference by feeding Maryland families. Below is an example of events taking place around Thanksgiving efforts.

* Ravens LB Ray Lewis hosted his annual distribution of Thanksgiving baskets and home products/toiletries to 800 Baltimore families on Tuesday (11/15).

* Ravens LB Jameel McClain partnered with the Salvation Army Warehouse to extend a helping hand to families in need this holiday season. McClain hosted his second annual Thanksgiving distribution on Tuesday (11/15), where 53 families were presented with a Thanksgiving basket complete with a turkey and all the trimmings.

* On Tuesday (11/15), the sixth annual holiday dinner at the Helping Up Mission men’s shelter in downtown Baltimore was led by Ravens RB Ray Rice.Turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce, mixed vegetables, rolls and dessert was a special meal for 350 men who live and visit the shelter.

* Ravens G Ben Grubbs and CB/RS Lardarius Webb teamed to distribute Thanksgiving baskets to 300 Baltimore-area, single-parent families on Friday (11/18). The third annual event was held at the Park Heights Boys & Girls Club.

* Ravens C Andre Gurode distributed 500 turkeys to families in need on the east side of Baltimore, working alongside Israel Baptist Church and Collington Square School, on Friday (11/18).

* On Friday (11/18), Ravens S Ed Reed distributed Thanksgiving meals with all the fixings to 300 families of the SEED School in Baltimore, Md. This was the first of three Thanksgiving basket distributions that Reed will facilitate. Others will take place on Monday, Nov. 21 at Coppin State, and at Booker T. Washington Middle on Tuesday, Nov. 22.

* Ravens LB Brendon Ayanbadejo will serve families on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, Nov. 29. He is working with a local charter school in south Baltimore.

* The Ravens are hosting their 16th annual Food & Funds Drive throughout the month of November. Over 50 Giant Food stores will be collecting non-perishables, and the virtual food drive ( will be collecting funds.

At the winning Ravens vs. Bengals game on Nov. 20, more than 100 volunteers took part in the stadium collection. In 2010, the efforts generated 25,000 lbs of food and more than $30,000.

This is our culture, and we’re proud to make a difference.

Tags:  Baltimore  Football  Philanthropy  Ravens 

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Telling Our Philanthropic Story

Posted By Betsy Nelson, Wednesday, May 11, 2011
Updated: Friday, May 13, 2011

May 11, 2011

Nonprofits and foundations must share stories of their successful strategies to address community needs. This is the message Mark Sedway delivered to members of the Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers at our recent annual meeting.

Mark leads the Philanthropy Awareness Initiative (PAI), a project supported by the Packard, Gates, Hewlett, Irvine and Robert Wood Johnson Foundations to engage more influential Americans in the work of organized philanthropy.PAI research suggests that philanthropy faces an "awareness deficit” among the most engaged citizens. Only four in ten can name a foundation. Only one in ten can identify a foundation’s impact on an issue they care about. We’d expect those on the frontlines of community improvement to know something about foundations that exist to support their work. Most do not.

Why is there an awareness deficit? Many foundation leaders point to a belief that "the work will speak for itself,” noting that typical news releases focus on dollars out the door rather than impact achieved with foundation support. A lack of relationships with decision makers and failure to engage trustees and others as foundation ambassadors also contribute to this lack of awareness.

On the other hand, surveys commissioned by PAI suggest that engaged citizens have high expectations for foundations—expectations that many consider foundations well-positioned to meet. They feel foundations are important to their communities. And if they’re provided some kind of experience with foundations, they show higher appraisal of their work.

Mr. Sedway’s message to us was to tell better stories about foundations’ work, in the news media and elsewhere.Telling our philanthropic story, Mark suggested, can help spread promising practices, earn champions, attract new ideas, and encourage more giving. And it can combat the measurable awareness deficit among the public and government leaders.

This is a bandwagon that we have been on locally for quite some time. It is one of the main reasons I have been honored to write the bi-weeklyAdventures in Philanthropycolumn inThe Daily Record.

With increased public scrutiny of the sector, the time is now to step up our efforts. It’s more important than ever that we individually and collectively focus on telling our story.

Over the next several weeks, there will be considerable activity in Washington, DC, on budget and tax matters that could ultimately have a significant effect on the future of the nonprofit and philanthropic sector. The charitable deduction may be at risk and we must understand that this in one of a number of challenges our sector may face in the future. We must seize the opportunity to make our voices heard in this current debate and for future debates that may affect charitable giving.

We are all ambassadors for the organizations we care about. Whether a donor, staff member, or trustee of a foundation or nonprofit, we have a communication role to play. And now, perhaps more than ever, it is vital also to educate policymakers and others about the role of nonprofit organizations and philanthropy in society.

Betsy Nelson is the President of the Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers. She can be reached at 410-727-1205 or

Tags:  communication  marketing  Philanthropy  policy  policymakers  promotion  public  stories 

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Investing in Capacity Building

Posted By Buffy Beaudoin-Schwartz, Tuesday, April 5, 2011
The third Annual Nonprofit Summit just took place in Frederick and we invited Rebecca Southers, Grants Coordinator at The Ausherman Family Foundation to guest blog about the foundation's support of the Summit and commitment to investing incapacity building for nonprofits in Frederick County.


One of my first assignments as a staff member of the Ausherman Family Foundation was to help The Frederick Rescue Mission to improve their grant writing capacity, bringing more resources into Frederick County. When I asked the staff for their case statement I was informed that it didn't yet exist so I began with staff interviews, a preliminary case statement, and a presentation to the board of directors. This resulted in the hiring of a case manager who is now measuring program outcomes in a more comprehensive way than had ever been done previously.

This is also a classic example of how organizational capacity building works – one strand is pulled and the whole web changes shape.

The staff members and Trustees of the Ausherman Family Foundation are passionate about building a strong and vibrant nonprofit community in Frederick County, Maryland, and this passion has guided the foundation's work. The Ausherman Family Foundation's capacity building grant program provides funds for consultants to help organizations develop anything from a marketing plan to a program evaluation plan.

My role as Grants Coordinator at the foundation was created to strengthen our nonprofit community: As in the example above, I provide grantwriting technical assistance to selected grantees.

We have also, in partnership with the Community Foundation of Frederick County and HandsOn Frederick County, facilitated a Nonprofit Summit for the past three years.

The Nonprofit Summit is a one day training event that brings high quality, low cost professional development to Frederick County. The first Summit was held in March 2009 and it has grown each year. In March 2011, 167 nonprofit executives, board members, staff, and volunteers attended.

Our nonprofit community finds value in this local training event both for the learning opportunities and the opportunities to build partnerships. Sue Oehmig, Executive Director of Hope Alive, attended the Summit with several board members who walked away with new information and a plan of action. Sue wrote, "Our board members…plan to meet in the coming month to begin to implement a lot of changes on how the board meetings are run and to incorporate much more strategic thinking.”

Carol Goundry, a member of The Banner School's parent organization, got to experience the depth and diversity of our nonprofit community. She observed, "As a first time attendee, I found the sessions to be engaging, professional, and informative. It is great to know so many great nonprofit organizations exist in Frederick County.”

As I darted in and out of workshops on topics ranging from "Leading Through a Crisis” to "Nonprofit Storytelling” the thing I enjoyed the most was observing my community's leaders helping each other brainstorm solutions to a problem during a small group activity or reflecting on new ideas over lunch.

Place-based philanthropy and organizational capacity building complement each other well. As a local funder, we know our local leaders and believe in the power of our local nonprofits to address our community's problems. We can also take the time to build relationships with those local leaders and nonprofits in order to help them improve their service to the community.

The Ausherman Family Foundation will continue to invest in capacity building programs like the Nonprofit Summit in order to "provide support for institutional initiatives and transformational ideas.”

I invite your thoughts below about investing in capacity building!

Rebecca can be reached at:

*Phone: 301-620-4468
*Cell: 240-439-9952
*Connect withher on Linkedin
*FollowThe Ausherman Family Foundation on Twitter

Tags:  Ausherman  Community  Family  Foundation  Giving  Investing  Nonprofit  Philanthropy  Sector 

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The Philanthropic Response to Japan

Posted By Buffy Beaudoin-Schwartz, Monday, April 4, 2011

April 3, 2011

Our thoughts continue to be with those affected by the recent earthquake, aftershocks and tsunami in Japan. The preliminary numbers on those affected by these disasters are staggering. Japanese police estimate that the death toll from the quake and tsunami will surpass 18,000, while the World Bank reports that it could take five years to rebuild, at a cost of up to $235 billion.

With the scale of destruction and resulting needs vast, people have responded accordingly with quick and significant contributions to support relief efforts. Nearly three weeks after the devastating earthquake and tsunami, American donors have contributed more than $161 million for relief efforts, according to a recent Chronicle of Philanthropy tally.

Foundations and businesses in the region are acting swiftly to assist, including Constellation Energy Group, Citi, McCormick & Co., CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield, Bank of America, IBM, Northrop Grumman, T. Rowe Price, Verizon and Wells Fargo.

In the coming weeks and months, Japan will continue to need the world's attention. As with any disaster, it's important to remember that raising the money may be the easy part. Responding to any crisis requires immediate, intermediate, and long-range support for victims.

We are often compelled to respond immediately — and certainly there is a need for such support. But as with all donations, contributions to disaster relief should be considered carefully. Where, when, and by whom can it be put to best use? Remember, it's important to give but it's equally important to give wisely.

Experts recommend that the best way to help the victims is to donate cash rather than in-kind donations like clothing and canned goods. Donors also should consider giving to organizations with a proven track record and to those with a long-standing history of relief work.

Several Baltimore-based humanitarian organizations are assisting Japan:

-Catholic Relief Services:

-Lutheran World Relief:

-World Relief:

-International Orthodox Christian Charities:

Two years from now, the Japan earthquakes and tsunami probably won't be a prominent topic of everyday conversation, but for those affected by the disaster the effects will still be omnipresent. Recognize that, unfortunately, giving to charities for disaster relief needs to be on all of our yearly contribution lists.

To find information about Japan relief efforts and to follow the local philanthropic response, visit, friend and follow ABAG at:, and on Twitter at @ABAGrantmakers.

Betsy Nelson is the President of the Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers. She can be reached at 410-727-1205 or

Tags:  community  disaster  efforts  foundation  funding  giving  Japan  philanthropy  relief 

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More in the Middle

Posted By Buffy Beaudoin-Schwartz, Monday, March 21, 2011

March 21, 2011

In spite of gains over the recent decades, inequities in income, employment, educational attainment, housing and business ownership rates persist between African American and white communities at a national and local level.

To address this, Associated Black Charities of Maryland (ABC) launched "More in the Middle”, an asset and wealth building initiative that aims to strengthen the economic competitiveness of the state and region by supporting -- through public policy, grant making, project incubation, research, convening, and advocacy --the increased access and opportunity needed to achieve more equitable economic outcomes between whites and African Americans, as well as other people of color.

More in the Middle has an ambitious, data-driven, outcomes based intervention and investment strategy to address the economic vitality and health parity for all Marylanders by surfacing and working with its partners to eliminate long-standing and institutional barriers to people of color. ABC recognizes that if the state can retain, grow, and attract "More in the Middle”—more African American middle income residents who will help grow the economy of the region and spread their economic gains across the state – then the "economic renaissance” seen in some areas of the state will expand to others, bringing more income, an increased tax base, a broader workforce pipeline of leaders and workers, and a more robust economy.

Diane Bell McKoy, President and CEO of Associated Black Charities, noted "the More in the Middle agenda is one that offers an "on-ramp” for everyone in the state of Maryland. It is really simple. If you believe in the development of human capital; if you recognize that areas with on-going, long-lasting economic weaknesses are bad for growing and sustaining families, businesses, and prosperity; and if you understand that strengthening economically distressed ‘linchpin' groups positively affect and strengthen the families, communities, and social and economic structures around them, then you can find an access point to the More in the Middle agenda.”

Associated Black Charities was founded in 1985 to represent and respond to an African American community whose issues and realities were being dismissed or ignored. Concerned about the limited access, opportunities, and "voice” allowed these communities in greater society, a group of area ministers and businessmen came together to call for an organization that would raise and distribute funds to organizations targeting needs within Maryland's African American communities.

In its 26th year, Associated Black Charities is a respected public foundation. With the investment of its partners, including individual donors, corporations, foundations and other public and private funds, ABC continues its mission to facilitate the creation of measurably healthier and wealthier communities throughout the State of Maryland through responsible leadership and philanthropic investment.

I applaud Associated Black Charities for its dedication to strong, healthy, and economically viable communities by creating opportunities for all Marylanders.

For more information on Associated Black Charities and it's More in the Middle Initiative, visit

Betsy Nelson is the President of the Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers. She can be reached at 410-727-1205 or

Tags:  associated  black  charities  diversity  foundations  giving  philanthropy 

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"Nonprofits Should Share Tales of Generosity"

Posted By Buffy Beaudoin-Schwartz, Friday, February 4, 2011
February 3, 2011

In my previous column, I outlined the public policy challenges ahead for nonprofits and philanthropy in 2011. One of my colleagues, Adam Donaldson, member services director at the Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers, makes the point that now, as Congress and the Maryland General Assembly wrestle with record deficits and the national debt, there is greater need to promote understanding of philanthropy and showcase the work of local grantmakers and nonprofit organizations. Otherwise, our leaders are making decisions about us without knowing us.

Here is what Adam has to say:

"Like many, I used to mark anonymous on the pledge form with my charitable gifts so I would not be listed in any annual reports. Anonymity seemed to infuse my donations with sincerity; plus my mom always warned me that I would start to be solicited by all of the ‘cancer people’ and then my name sold to the a sheriffs’ association who would call during dinner. She was right. Moms always are.

"But now I have caller ID, and what Mom later acknowledged is that knowing about my donations motivated her to give as well. Now I tell anyone who will listen what charities I support and why I care about their work. On an individual scale, each name listing and conversation ignites interest in my causes and inspires more giving.

"On the scale of institutions, the same lesson leverages investment in their work and aligns partners to maximize community impact. I am convinced that nonprofits and foundations should share stories of their generosity and successful strategies to address community needs. Stories can help spread promising practices, earn champions, attract new ideas, and encourage more giving.

"The Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers has always worked with grantmakers to promote their good work. We channel these stories through news media, including the bi-weekly column in The Daily Record, and ABAG’s blog, website (, e-newsletter, along with Facebook and Twitter.

"These efforts combat a measurable awareness deficit among the public and government leaders. In the field of philanthropy, national research conducted by the Philanthropy Awareness Initiative found that only four in 10 influential Americans can name a foundation and only one in 10 can identify a foundation’s impact on an issue they care about. Nonprofit organizations are better known because they deliver direct services, but too few of us have knowledge of the operations, strategies, and collaborations propelling those services.

"We are all ambassadors for the organizations we care about, whether it is simply our favorite coffee shop or a national cancer research center. Whether a donor, staff member, or trustee of a foundation or nonprofit, you have a communication role to play. And now, perhaps more than ever, it is vital also to educate legislators about the role of nonprofit organizations and philanthropy in society.

"I hope one of your New Year’s resolutions will be to step away from anonymity and help build awareness of your charity. Start with your Mom, but then ask your favorite organization how you can help.”

Betsy Nelson is the President of the Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers. She can be reached at 410-727-1205 or

Tags:  awareness  giving  news  nonprofits  philanthropy  policymakers  promote  promotion  stories 

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Budget Cuts, Tax Changes Worry Nonprofits

Posted By Buffy Beaudoin-Schwartz, Friday, January 21, 2011
Congress is back to work and, candidly, the nonprofit sector is nervous.

In addition to calls to cut spending and reduce the deficit, the Obama administration is pushing a tax code overhaul over the next two years. Both efforts could have a negative impact on nonprofit organizations and the people they serve.

And, with many new members of Congress, there has never been a more important time to educate elected representatives about the role of nonprofit organizations and philanthropy in society.

According toThe Chronicle of Philanthropy, the nonprofit sector can expect a number of possible challenges in 2011.

First, there may be less understanding of how much the federal government relies on local nonprofits to deliver public services. The House of Representatives has 93 new members, the largest freshman class in years.

Second, many legislators campaigned for office last year promising to reduce spending. In times like this, grants to safety-net programs and social services are especially vulnerable.

Third, specific federal programs scheduled for expansion, such as AmeriCorps and the Social Innovation Fund, are unlikely to grow. These programs support volunteerism and expansion of promising solutions to our most pressing social problems.

Fourth, new leadership in Congress may bring greater scrutiny of the nonprofit sector.

Finally, efforts to raise revenue and overhaul the tax code may touch upon the sacred benefits of nonprofit status — tax-exemption and the tax deduction for charitable giving.

Getting the word out

Many groups knowledgeable about nonprofits and philanthropy will need to educate newly elected officials as well as keep returning policymakers up to date with the latest information.

Nationally, groups like Independent Sector and the Council on Foundations are already at work to advance a number of issues on behalf of the sector.

Locally, Maryland Nonprofits acts as a strong voice for nonprofits. Its Maryland Budget and Tax Policy Institute studies state government fiscal policy to understand how it affects vulnerable populations and community programs.

As the voice of philanthropy in Central Maryland, the Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers works with our members to bring the ideas and insights of the philanthropic sector to local, state, and national public policy discussions.

What we have most in common with other associations is a keen understanding of the old adage that all politics is local. That is one reason we devote so much time and energy to sharing stories about the great work of local grant makers and helping our members communicate their impact in the community.

The 2011 Congress may bring about changes affecting the nonprofit sector and philanthropy in a variety of ways, and we are fortunate to have regional and national efforts under way to focus on the value that the sector brings to our quality of life.

But we also need to have others sharing that story too. It is a story all nonprofit organizations can tell and should be telling — especially now.

Betsy Nelson is the President of the Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers. She can be reached at 410-727-1205 or

Tags:  budget  Congress  cuts  federal  giving  nonprofits  obama  philanthropy  president  programs  scrutiny  sector  tax  taxes 

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