A Salute to Julian Bond, Our Community Champion

Photo by Richard Avedon














I admire the thought leaders of our world – globally, nationally and locally. They are our thinkers and doers.  Our leaders are our heroes. They create awareness while building ambassadors for their cause and their community.  They motivate change with their words and actions, committed to creating a greater tomorrow.

In the nonprofit sector, we are fortunate to collaborate with many social justice leaders daily.  It reminds us why we stand on the frontline of challenge, passionately fighting for change.

Today, I celebrate a heroic leader, an activist who demonstrated the excellence of leadership in the city of Atlanta. He didn’t just do the work, he mastered it and compelled others to follow.  Our hero, Julian Bond, former N.A.A.C.P. chairman and civil rights leader, has passed.

Bond’s work illustrates many examples of leadership, service and heroism. From age 17 to 75, his journey is indicative of a man who never gave up the fight. He was elected to our Georgia House of Representatives in 1965, not taking his seat until a U.S. Supreme Court decision in 1967.  An advocate for humanity, Bond dedicated more than 20 years at the forefront of decisions that shaped Atlanta.

He led a life committed to thought leadership and activism.  Can you imagine the stories he has shared?  Sitting at the helm of young black Americans sharing their voice during the civil rights movement, Bond led the protests as a leader of peace. He graduated Morehouse as a co-founder and the communications director of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.  In an effort to promote legal advocacy, he founded the Southern Poverty Law Center.   His work, now serving as a legacy, covers the span of a lifetime. It is a constant motivation to remain at the frontline of challenge, creating change for one and all.

Notably, change requires a commitment to the work, advocating for the people and building a greater tomorrow. But when heroes fall, who will have the courage to do more than stand on their shoulders? Who will keep the conversation going to ensure positive change continues?

But when heroes fall, who will have the courage to do more than stand on their shoulders? Who will keep the conversation going to ensure positive change continues?

I am hopeful Julian Bond’s iconic work will continue to have a voice in our community, opening doors for all people. He is proof that superheroes do in fact exist. When we work together, we create a force – a superpower – that changes the world. I salute you Mr. Julian Bond, celebrate your life as a social justice hero and honor your commitment to service.

United Way AtlantaAllison Todd is the interim regional marketing manager at United Way of Greater Atlanta. She can be reached at atodd@unitedwayatlanta.org.

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For Nonprofits, Cash Flow Management is King

By Lisa Cremin, Director, The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta

Lisa Cremin, Director at The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta

Lisa Cremin, Director at The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta

We all have our strengths and weaknesses.

As a grantmaker, when reading nonprofit’s grant proposals and financials, it doesn’t take long to observe that cash flow management is a real challenge for many organizations, particularly small and midsized ones. Executive directors and staff of smaller nonprofits are uniquely talented in so many aspects of running their organization but many lack experience and training in financial management.

Without consistent cash flow forecasting and management, nonprofits leaders – just like business leaders- can find themselves in a corner when anticipated revenue doesn’t materialize as expected or scheduled. For a nonprofit dependent on grants, contributions or government contracts, it’s vitally important to understand when anticipated funds will arrive. All too often, nonprofit leaders find themselves to doing whatever it takes to keep their essential programs running. Which, as we know, is stressful.

Cash is king. Organizations need to have cash to operate, and they need to manage cash flow so they can predict cash flow shortages. Also, like for-profit businesses, they occasionally need access to bridge loan funds to bridge that gap. But these resources haven’t been there for undercapitalized small and mid-sized nonprofits, of which there are many.

bridge fingers w typeI’m proud to be a part of The Community Foundation where we have taken on these issues and just launched a great new resource to help – www.NonprofitBridgeLoanFund.org.  The website has applications for our unique bridge loans for small and midsized nonprofits that have been declined for a loan by a bank. The site also has capacity building tools, such as videos on how to do cash flow forecasting; resources for learning about nonprofit finance, and even a place where nonprofits can get the help of a coach to demystify and build skills in doing cash flow projection.

Our goal is to help remove the perceived stigma and lack of knowledge about loans and cash flow. We want to give nonprofit leaders a clear and easy path for getting basic financial help and build on their strengths. Check it out and let us know what you think.

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Want a Stronger Community? Help Our Schools

By Demetrius Jordan, senior director of regional priorities at United Way of Greater Atlanta

Here we are, one year away from 20th anniversary of the 1996 Summer Olympic Games. And there I was, 20 years ago, in 1995, a young, fresh-out-of-college expat teaching in Osaka, Japan. To put it in perspective, pagers were still high tech.

I remember regular calls and letters from family and friends about how Atlanta was faring in preparation to host the Olympics. And many of my new friends shared their excitement about Atlanta being the place to be.

As a Hotlanta native, I was very proud – for the most part. Yes, there were new buildings, sports venues and a host of good ole Atlanta charm on display, echoing Andy Young’s “city too busy to hate.” But as an educator at the time, sheepishly, I was all too familiar with the fact that unlike the way we would come to dominate the summer games athletically, we were not among the top academic-achieving nations competing on the world’s stage. The U.S. lagged behind many other developed countries, including Japan, South Korea, China and Canada. And Georgia was by far not at the top within the U.S.

The story is not that much different today. While we have made significant educational gains here in Georgia and across the country over the past 20 years, we are far from the proverbial finishing line. In a recent study, “Georgia came in dead last in the rigor of its reading proficiency standards in both fourth and eighth grades, and near last in math.” It makes me question whether our students will be prepared to compete in a global market.

Based on a Stanford University study, the potential impact of improving our students’ science and math scores is an estimated $41 trillion boost to the U.S. economy. But if Georgia’s education standards remain too low, we may find ourselves simply handing over any competitive advantage to those more prepared with a stronger workforce; leading tomorrow’s businesses and driving global decisions.

I am equally troubled by the dialogue online following the article about Georgia’s standards. It’s far too easy to ride the coat tail of a narrative that solely casts blame on teachers or administrators. What I found striking in Japan was a clear cultural and community-wide commitment to education. Georgia educators struggle very little with lesson plans and instructions, but are exacerbated by the drains and toxic stress many underachieving students endure outside the classroom.

I’ve heard you can tell the future of a community by how well it treats its children. That’s why one of my favorite days while living in Japan was the annual national Children’s Day Festival, where the entire community celebrated kids.We have an opportunity to do that here. Both experience and research demonstrate student achievement is impacted by what happens outside of the classroom as well as what happens within it.

Whether I’m on the football field with the coaches, in the corporate boardroom with business leaders or in the classroom with my children’s teachers, I hear that we are a concerned, committed community. So how do we change the conversation from being fixated on systems-level issues only to a dialogue about community-based solutions? We have the power to work collectively to not only voice our shared aspiration for a globally competitive standard, but also to bring our skills, knowledge, commitment and compassion together to lift up struggling schools and ensure the next 20 years casts a very different picture.

Demetrius Jordan United Way of Greater Atlanta

Demetrius Jordan is senior director, regional priorities at United Way of Greater Atlanta. He can be reached at djordan@unitedwayatlanta.org.


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Dog Days for Atlanta Donors with Smoking Hot Results

By Rob Smulian, vice president of philanthropic services, The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta

Rob Smulian, vice president of philanthropic services, The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta

Rob Smulian, vice president of philanthropic services, The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta

August is, well, hot. Everything is sticky. Even my seersucker suit seems to sizzle. So, what does this have to do with The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta, breathtaking views from the Alston & Bird conference room on the 49th floor of One Atlantic Center, and a presentation from financial guru Michael Miller of Colonial Consulting on July 28? The Community Foundation’s investments are boiling up big success for our donors—which means we are able to give more money to more nonprofits to do more good throughout the region. Miller, who manages The Community Foundation’s pooled asset portfolio, is a recognized leader in the field of investments for large foundations and universities. His chops include 29 years in the business, multiple degrees from Columbia, a CFA designation, and a team of 66 colleagues who collaborate with him to sniff out great investments for our Foundation.

I was honored to sit alongside 48 attendees in the room Alston & Bird provided to hear Miller’s insights on our portfolio’s performance and key trends in global markets. Yes, we focus on long-term results using a highly diversified algorithm more complicated than my dog Little Bear’s sniffing process at the dog park. We are also crystal clear about our dual objectives: first, investment returns to maintain charitable distributions at a rate that is meaningful for impact; and second, to increase the value of our pooled assets at a rate greater than inflation. Whether you are a Doberman or a King Charles Spaniel, that’s a darn good bone.

Donors to The Community Foundation can select from investment options that are right for them:

  • The Investment Pool where assets are invested broadly among institutional money managers;
  • American Funds offering a diversified portfolio of mutual funds;
  • A Conservative Fund that focuses on preserving principal and maintaining a high degree of liquidity;
  • Individually managed funds that provide custom designs with the investment advisor of the donor’s choosing.

Atlanta is a vibrant city of dedicated donors giving of their time, talent and treasure. At The Community Foundation, we take those passions and connect them to nonprofit purpose. If your dog days of summer are being spent on the hunt for the right treat, The Community Foundation is a place where you can receive the flexibility and benefits of a private foundation with the tax advantages and simplicity of administration. So sniff us out, you might find the bone of a lifetime!

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Coca-Cola Executive Celebrates Anniversary with Day of Service

United Way of Greater Atlanta has a reputation for convening, connecting and catalyzing resources to create solutions in the community. When Ceree Eberly, The Coca-Cola Company’s senior vice president and chief people officer, wanted an innovative way to celebrate her 25th anniversary with the company, she called on United Way. Working together, Ceree, her friends, colleagues and United Way celebrated the special occasion with a day of service. It was a fun day to give back to the community. However, Ceree’s ultimate goal is igniting a culture shift in how service awards are recognized. Her vision is that service awards are not just about celebrating the individual’s achievement inside the company, but an opportunity for that individual to make an impact on the greater community. Here is Ceree’s call to action in her own words.


Ashley Hungerford United Way of Greater AtlantaAshley  Hungerford is a lead development officer at United Way of Greater Atlanta. She can be reached at ahungerford@unitedwayatlanta.org


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Make Charity Your Family

By Christy Eckoff, Director of Gift Planning, The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta

Christy Eckoff, Director of Gift Planning, The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta

Christy Eckoff, Director of Gift Planning, The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta

Many people have a charity that they support on a regular basis. Most charities depend on this regular support for the most basic of their needs – keeping the lights on, paying salaries, renting office or program space. But what happens when you are no longer around to provide this critical support?

Did you know that you can leave money through your will and other estate plans to a charity? You can also leave a portion of your retirement plan, insurance policy or IRA to charity. There are all sorts of tax advantages to doing so, but most importantly you are continuing to provide that crucial support to a charity you love. By making a gift through your estate plan you are elevating that charity to family status. Who else would you leave your estate to other than your family or other loved ones?

At The Community Foundation, I see people from all walks of life decide to make a charity (or two or three) a member of the family through their estate plan. Some decide to make an outright gift to a charity, some decide to establish a fund that will make payments to a charity forever, and some decide to make payments over the course of several years. How you do it is up to you – just think about expanding your family.

I encourage estate planning attorneys and financial advisors to ask their clients this critical question. Do you have a charity you would like to support through your estate plan? Provide charities with critical support so that they may carry on their mission long after you are gone.

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Technology + Nonprofits: The Perfect Match

From the way we communicate to the way we make purchases, technology has changed our lives forever. In fact, right now, many of you are reading this blog on your phone – something that was unfathomable not too long ago.

New technology provides new opportunities for nonprofits to make a greater impact in our communities. Here are three tools we use at United Way to help us share our vision, work more efficiently and even increase donations.

1. PeriscopePeriscope is an application that allows you to share and watch live video broadcasts from your mobile phone. It’s free and easy to use. If you can take a picture or record a video with your phone, you can use Periscope.

We first used Periscope this past spring for our Leading a Life of Purpose event. Nearly 400 people attended the event, but 367 more people watched via Periscope. One person was so happy, she posted about it on Instagram.

Periscope has proven to be a perfect way for us to reach people, and a unique way for them to see our organization in action.

United Way Atlanta Periscope 1

367 people watched United Way of Greater Atlanta’s Leading a Life of Purpose event on the live streaming application Periscope.

United Way Atlanta Periscope 2

A United Way supporter posted on Instagram as the nonprofit used Periscope at an event. The post says, “Sooo thankful for technology that’s allowing me to view the Leading a Life of Purpose event being hosted by @unitedwayatlanta.”

2. Skype for Business – Email is great. The phone is good. However, sometimes it’s better to communicate face-to-face, even if it’s virtually. With Skype for Business, our staff in Downtown Atlanta can “meet” and share documents with multiple colleagues spread across the 13 Greater Atlanta counties we serve. The technology is also helpful for meetings with our partner agencies. Skype for Business makes us more efficient and effective as an organization, and it keeps our overhead low by cutting transportation costs.

Skype for Business

via skype.com

3. Mobile Giving – Technology is making it easier than ever for people to make contributions to nonprofits. So, in addition to traditional pledge forms – both print and online – we also allow supporters to donate through text messaging. By texting a keyword to a designated number, our supporters are able to make a financial contribution of any amount. This option is especially popular with our young professional donors and at events.

In addition to its convenience, mobile giving also allows us to capture email addresses and phone numbers, so we can correspond with these donors in the future.

United Way Atlanta Text to Give

United Way of Greater Atlanta used mobile giving to raise money to help homeless female veterans.

I’m an IT guy, so of course I love technology. And if nonprofits want to thrive, they are going to have to learn to love and embrace these new tools too. You’d be amazed at how they’ll help your organization work more efficiently, reach more people and generate more donations so you can make a bigger difference in your community.

Eric Pressley United Way AtlantaEric Pressley is the IT manager at United Way of Greater Atlanta. He can be reached at epressley@unitedwayatlanta.org.


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Stop and Smell the Roses (or the Printer Ink)

By Erin Dreiling, marketing and communications manager at The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta

Erin Dreiling, marketing and communications manager at The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta

Erin Dreiling, marketing and communications manager at The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta

I work at a very, very cool organization. Every so often, that really hits me. When working at a nonprofit, it’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day work – the deadlines, the logistics, the nitty gritty details. That was the case for me during the development of The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta’s 2014 Annual Report. I was focused on the deadlines, the layouts and the photos. When it was finally finished, I was able to step back and really look at it. I was struck by a sense of purpose and discovery when I took time to stop and smell the roses (or, in this case, the just-printed ink).

The theme of this Annual Report was “What’s in a name?” As Alicia Philipp, our illustrious leader, so often says, everything you need to know about The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta is in our name. This report includes stories that demonstrate the promise we fulfill via our name: we were built for and aid our community; we are a solid, strong and fiscally-responsible foundation; and we serve the greater Atlanta region; passionately seeking to make Atlanta better and greater.

I don’t want to spoil the report, because I really hope you read it (shameless plug), but here are a couple of highlights:

  • In 2014, we distributed $106.2 million in grants to nonprofit organizations. I’ll wait just a minute to let that sink in. $106.2 million! Those grants went to over 2,300 organizations and 75% of those grants stayed within our 23-county region. How amazing is that? Those are dollars that help nonprofits make art, feed people, fight injustice, educate children and rescue puppies.
  • 90% of those grants were made by our fantastic fund advisors through their donor-advised funds. These are individuals, families and organizations that are driven to make our community better by sharing their resources and that trust us enough to serve as a philanthropic partner.
  • Those donors and other funders gave us over $79.8 million in 2014, resulting in a milestone accomplishment of The Community Foundation reaching over $930.8 million in philanthropic assets.

Now, these are all financial highlights. You will have to view the report to learn about how we work in our community through an array of case studies of nonprofits impacted by grants from our community initiatives, stories from our donors and examples of our impact.

So many people work to make this happen. We have incredibly talented, passionate and hardworking staff. Our donors are visionary and a part of our philanthropic family. Our volunteers share their time and talents with us. We have so many valuable partners – civic and community leaders and other organizations that share our vision. And, of course, the nonprofit organizations that are on the ground building a better, greater Atlanta.

Pretty cool, huh? To experience our 2014 Annual Report, please click here.

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Oh, The Places You’ll Go (Pt. 2)

We’ve all heard the phrase, “it takes a village to raise a child.” And yet, today, new articles and disturbing data about the best and worst places to grow up make me pause and wonder what has happened to my village? Not just my own personal network of friends, family members and neighbors – who I depend on for everything from picking up the kids, offering me sage financial advice or inspiring my son to read a book. But, how strong is the broader village that includes the grids of services and supports my immediate network can’t provide?

From NY Times

From NY Times

Living on the edge of a few counties, I am keenly aware of “grids.” Whose power grid am I connected to? Which cable or internet provider serves us? All basic functions of a “village.” I don’t consider these questions often, but when I wake up at 5 a.m., I want the light to come on when I flip the switch. Similarly, there are many critical social services that we don’t think about until we personally need them. Yet, stories like the one about the young woman from Johns Creek who died of a heroin overdose remind me that we need a strong grid of social and community services in every community for prevention, intervention and healing.

I choose to live in my neighborhood because it’s where I grew up and it’s where my mother lives. My neighborhood is not among the best places to raise a child. Lots of people reading this might suggest that we move. And many friends and former school mates have moved to “better” communities. And yes, that’s a good option for a lot of people and I don’t criticize anyone for having the means and opportunity to improve their situation and life opportunities for their children. But, isn’t it a shame if that is our only solution? I want this community to thrive and I want to make every neighborhood a good place to raise a child.

Check out this interactive map to find out how your community compares to “the best and worst places to grow up.”

United Way AtlantaGinneh Baugh is the senior director of measurement and knowledge development at United Way of Greater Atlanta. She can be reached at gbaugh@unitedwayatlanta.org.


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The Legacy of One Region Atlanta

By Brian C. Friedman, The Wellspring Group and board member of The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta

Brian C. Friedman, The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta board member

Brian C. Friedman, The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta board member

I have been honored and blessed to serve on the Council of Advisors for One Region Atlanta, an 18-month initiative of The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta dedicated to building a more inclusive and tolerant region by helping connect metro Atlanta residents of all faith and cultural backgrounds through civic engagement and community building opportunities. The initiative has been a great success. Since its inception, One Region Atlanta has sponsored arts and cultural events, helped initiate and promote public dialogue opportunities and assisted in developing or strengthening education and training programs, all dedicated to promoting understanding and relationships among our diverse community. In addition, almost $80,000 in grants were given to 19 different faith and cultural organizations, including capacity building and program support grants to several prominent regional interfaith organizations such as Interfaith Community Initiatives, Faith Alliance of Metro Atlanta, and the Neshama Interfaith Center.

One Region Atlanta was initially funded by a grant from One Nation, a national initiative established after 9/11 out of concern for the increased prejudicial treatment against Muslim Americans. Grants were given to a number of community foundations across the country to develop programs that promoted more inclusive and tolerant communities. One Region Atlanta was designed to sunset in 18 months, but its legacy will continue in our region for many years to come. The Community Foundation is working with Welcoming America, a national intercultural organization based in Atlanta, and the Atlanta Regional Commission, in hopes of establishing metro Atlanta as the country’s first designated “Welcoming Region.” The Foundation will also continue to work with a number of interfaith organizations to help build their capacity, strengthen their programs and expand their reach. In addition, much of the knowledge, information, and relationships gained by the initiative will be integrated into the Foundation’s ongoing grant programs and its work with donors and other regional stakeholders.

It has truly been rewarding to serve with such a diverse and dedicated group of individuals on such a worthwhile and important project. My involvement also introduced me to some amazing, life-changing experiences. I participated in an Interfaith Immersion Weekend sponsored by Interfaith Community Initiatives and even traveled to Turkey last October with 30 Muslim, Jewish and Christian community and business leaders on an interfaith pilgrimage sponsored by World Pilgrims. These experiences not only broadened my respect and knowledge for other faiths and cultures, but also strengthened my own Christian faith in the process. I was also able to develop deep friendships with some amazing individuals whose backgrounds are much different from my own. After having such a positive impact on my life, I am excited and dedicated to see the legacy of One Region Atlanta continue to benefit our region for many years to come.

The Community Foundation has developed a case statement to share the story and successes of this initiative, entitled One Region Atlanta: The Power of Partnerships to Strengthen Community. To view it, please click here.

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