News and Insights

Foundations on the Hill: A Sense of Urgency

03/27/2017

Mike Halligan, Dennis & Phyllis Washington Foundation | Philanthropy Northwest's recent delegation to Foundations on the Hill 2017 included Mike Halligan, who shared his insights with us as a nine-time participant in this annual visit with national policymakers in Washington, D.C. In contrast to my eight previous experiences as a Foundations on the Hill delegate, I detected a palpable sense of urgency by policymakers and staff this year. It was clear from my time on the Hill that dramatic policy changes are on the horizon — and that philanthropy can and should play a professional, objective role in educating our representatives and their constituents on policy issues that impact the livability and sustainability of our communities in the Northwest. Most importantly, we should use our role as a trusted convener to bring all voices to the table to facilitate the resolution of problems that seem beyond our reach at this time. more »

Who's Joining Us for Foundations on the Hill

03/10/2017

Gloris Estrella, Program Manager | Philanthropy Northwest members and staff travel to "the other Washington" every spring for Foundations on the Hill, three days of connecting and building relationships with federal elected officials, informing them about philanthropy’s impact in our region, encouraging them to view foundations as resources on public policy issues and connecting with other funders interested in public policy. Last year was my first time attending FOTH, and I found it to be a really transformative experience of educating our representatives and their staff about our work back home, while advocating for our sector and our communities. Staff and trustees from these Philanthropy Northwest member organizations have signed up to attend the 2017 Foundations on the Hill gathering, March 20-22 in Washington, D.C.: more »

Keeping Politics Out of Philanthropy

03/10/2017

At its March 2017 meeting, Philanthropy Northwest's board agreed to sign onto a statement urging national policymakers to protect the Johnson Amendment, the law prohibiting 501(c)(3) charitable organizations from endorsing, opposing or contributing to political candidates and engaging in partisan campaign activities. According to the Council on Foundations, if the Johnson Amendment were repealed, 501(c)(3) organizations could become entities that are given tax-deductible donations for the purpose of participating in the electoral process, and donors would be completely shielded from disclosure — hindering transparency, a core Philanthropy Northwest value. Other signatories to the letter, drafted by the Forum of Regional Association of Grantmakers, include the Arizona Grantmakers Forum, Council of Michigan Foundations, Council of New Jersey Grantmakers, Grantmakers for Effective Organizations and Minnesota Council on Foundations. This position will be discussed further among Philanthropy Northwest's participants and other Forum delegations at Foundations on the Hill, March 20-22 in Washington, D.C. more »

Northwest Foundations Sign Immigration Support Statement

02/14/2017

Philanthropy Northwest is partnering with Grantmakers Committed with Immigrants and Refugees on several programs this year, including a monthly immigration policy briefing for funders. Some of our members — including Marguerite Casey Foundation, Ford Foundation, Legal Foundation of Washington, Meyer Memorial Trust, Northwest Area Foundation, Northwest Health Foundation and Satterberg Foundation — have joined a growing list of funders who have signed a Joint Foundation Statement on Immigration organized by GCIR. With a membership as diverse as ours, we understand that not everyone would choose to sign this statement. As a service to our members who have requested we share timely and relevant action and policy information, however, we are making you aware of this opportunity: more »

Sharpening Our Advocacy Tools for a New Administration

02/07/2017

Remy Trupin, Catalyst Fellow | Advocacy is an important tool in philanthropy's toolbox. Are you wielding it effectively? With so many policy changes coming from the new White House, Congress and state agencies, foundations and their grantees need to be engaged more than ever. Eager to learn more, sharpen their skills and compare notes, we offered a workshop last month on how private and public foundations can support grantees’ advocacy efforts and engage in advocacy themselves. Abby Levine, director of Alliance for Justice's Bolder Advocacy initiative, provided an overview of activities that constitute advocacy and public policy work, along with examples of advocacy roles for foundations, definitions of lobbying, and rules for private vs. public foundation grants to nonprofits that engage in lobbying (including general support, specific projects and multi-year grants). more »

Standing Against Injustice

01/31/2017

Doug Stamm, Meyer Memorial Trust | Following two executive orders targeting immigrants and refugees, on Friday, Jan. 27, just a week after his inauguration, President Donald Trump signed an executive order that bars refugees and immigrants from a number of Muslim countries from entering the United States. It’s clear we are at the beginning of a long, hard fight. What comes next? We must stand for the rights of all people of color, people with disabilities, and the LGBTQ community. In response, Meyer is providing grants to five community-based organizations on the front lines of ensuring the security, safety and civil rights of all people in our community. Although we currently fund these organizations, now more than ever their human and financial resources are being tested by the great work before them. And we need them to be strong in this fight. more »

Philanthropy Can & Must Support a Healthy Democracy

01/20/2017

Jesse Beason, Northwest Health Foundation | Much can be said, and indeed much is being said, about the state of our democracy. On this Inauguration Day, after the most divisive and troubling election of my lifetime, there are so many things on my mind. When it comes to fixing what ails our democracy, it is hard to know where to begin. Judging from the conversations I’ve had with peers and colleagues, philanthropy isn’t exactly sure where to begin either. But what better trusted messengers do we have than our community-based nonprofits, the very organizations that philanthropy makes investments in every day? Philanthropy can meet this call. We can go as far and as boldly as our tax status allows us — which, quite frankly, is much further than we pretend. more »

Shaping Advocacy, Rebuilding Democracy

01/12/2017

Remy Trupin, Catalyst Fellow | The beginning of January always signals a mad rush of advocacy alerts to my inbox and phone. As a former lobbyist, I recall the junior high-like atmosphere of reconnecting with your friends and frenemies during the first few days of the legislative session, refreshed from the time away and ready to consider new alliances. This January, however, is like no other. An unprecedented presidential election outcome, followed by continued confusion and rancor, has increased public appetite for activism. The speed in which these debates are happening — in person and online, 24 hours a day — requires immediate and intensive focus. Philanthropy must be involved in the short-term work of shaping policy change and the long-term work of rebuilding the institutions we use to advance the common good. more »

Grantmakers & Policymakers: Let's Talk

01/05/2017

Susan Weiss, Senior Policy Advisor | I am thrilled to be stepping in to help with the Northwest philanthropic sector's public policy efforts over the next few months, as Philanthropy Northwest's senior policy advisor. My primary roles include leading our six-state network's delegation to Foundations on the Hill in Washington, D.C. this March and supporting the work of our board's public policy committee. I believe all of us in philanthropy have a critical role to define how our investments and partnerships can inform policy decisions and ensure that policymakers fully understand the role that philanthropy plays in our states and local communities. There is an urgency for philanthropy to move sooner rather than later to engage, educate and learn — at the federal and state level — to ensure that philanthropy is an effective resource as well as voice for the needs of our communities. more »

Stepping Up to Strengthen Our Democracy

11/22/2016

Daniel Kemmis, Democracy Northwest | No matter which candidates any of us favored, from the presidential race on down the ballot, this election has cast a harsh light on the wounds and weaknesses of our democracy. This deep (and fully bipartisan) unhappiness with our political and governing institutions was never going to be cured by a single election, regardless of the outcome. While elected officials of both parties must certainly play a role in healing the deep wounds in our body politic, it is clear that they cannot do it alone. We all have to do our part — and that must include the philanthropic sector. To that end, Philanthropy Northwest is redoubling its own commitment to this work, primarily through a new initiative we’re calling Democracy Northwest. more »

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