News and Insights

If Philanthropy Wants Change, It Must Raise Its Voice


David Biemesderfer, Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers | In January, I took on a new role as president and CEO of the Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers. The Forum is the largest network serving philanthropy in America, consisting of 33 regional philanthropy-serving organizations — including Philanthropy Northwest — representing more than 5,500 foundations, corporate giving programs and partners. We leverage philanthropy's voice, bringing both deep regional roots and a broad national reach to the table. It’s not always easy to determine the best course of action in raising our voice to seek change — but organizations like Philanthropy Northwest are helping make it happen. more »

Exploring the Intersection of Philanthropy and Government


Ann Saxton, Vice President | What happens when government and philanthropy intersect to create impact? I joined hundreds of executives from foundations and philanthropy networks around the country to explore this topic at the USC Center on Philanthropy & Public Policy’s 2016 National Leadership Forum, focused on Philanthropy & Government: Public Problem Solving at the Intersection. For two days, leaders shared lessons learned from efforts working across philanthropy, government and business, as well as strategies for building community capacity and increasing the impact of philanthropy. more »

Introducing the Catalyst Fellows


Jeff Clarke, CEO | Poet William Blake wrote, "The true method of knowledge is experiment." Here at Philanthropy Northwest, we honor Blake and the countless others who have offered similar encouragement by taking initiative to conduct learning experiments. Our latest? The Catalyst Fellows, a place-based experiment in thought partnership and network learning. We’ve designed this program to begin and steward ongoing conversations about the important role that different types of capital, each integral to philanthropic strategy, play in creating and sustaining vibrant, equitable and inclusive communities. While there are many important forms of capital, we’ve chosen to begin this work by focusing on influence (advocacy), financial (impact investing) and natural (sustainability) capital. more »

Raising Philanthropy's Voice in an Election Year


Remy Trupin, Advocacy Catalyst Fellow | Election years are a tantalizing time, and with proper counsel and support, philanthropic organizations can be powerful advocates. When and how can your foundation speak out on a particular issue? Can foundations fund lobbying activities by grantees? Is it OK to provide candidates with talking points? What about funding voter guides and voter registration drives? Eager to learn more and share their experiences, Ballmer Group Philanthropy, Campion Foundation, Raikes Foundation and other funders recently participated in our Advocacy in an Election Year workshop. more »

Reflecting on Racial Equity and Civic Engagement


Gloris Estrella, Program Associate | When the opportunity to join First Alaskans Institute's “Partners for the Next 10,000 Years … A Racial Equity Summit” arose earlier this month, I literally jumped out of my swivel chair with excitement! After gathering 200 people together in a room, all of us passionate about empowering communities and dismantling hundreds of years of oppression, we were bound to walk away with something like a solution, right? Well, not quite. We need to think more about restructuring the current system that is failing so many. More philanthropists should get their hands on the ground, side by side with the communities they so deeply care about. Join the marches, attend town hall meetings, convene your grantees and local businesses around racial tensions they face, write to your local representatives, audit internal policies and ensure they are equitable and inclusive. In an election year, it's even more imperative that philanthropists be at the forefront of the issues we care about. more »

Nine Predictions for Philanthropy in 2016


Jeff Clarke, CEO | Welcome to 2016! Philanthropy’s core DNA is love for humanity and community. Here in the Pacific Northwest, we celebrate a unique philanthropic culture marked by optimism, generosity, civic engagement and stewardship. It rests upon our nation’s unique commitment to philanthropic freedom and donor intent. But above all, our big, diverse place defines us, from Alaska’s North Slope to southern Oregon, and the Pacific coast to eastern Montana and Wyoming. In other words, as American farmer and writer Wendell Berry observed, “If you don’t know where you are, you don’t know who you are.” Looking ahead to what is sure to be a dynamic year, philanthropy, with its ability to gather people around the public good, is more important than ever. more »

Paying for Success in the Northwest


Jeff Clarke, CEO | The Pacific Northwest has a unique and globally influential culture marked by innovation, entrepreneurship, civic engagement, generosity and stewardship. Our region’s commitment to innovation drives our growing leadership in impact investing — leveraging private capital for social good. Impact investors seek opportunities to earn a financial return while also doing something good for society. Their aspirations are changing the way we think about solutions to big social problems like homelessness, poverty and unemployment. more »

Update: Permanent Charitable Tax Incentives Signed Into Law


Ann Saxton, Vice President | The U.S. Senate has followed the House of Representatives and made permanent three charitable giving tax incentives. We are thrilled to share that moments ago, President Obama signed this bill into law. This is a big win for communities. We hope this success is tangible proof that when philanthropy uses its influence capital — in this case, raising its voice — it can effect even broader benefit to our communities. This is a reminder that together we can do great things. more »

Action Alert: IRS Reporting Proposal Threatens Donor, Nonprofit Security


Ann Saxton, Vice President | When should donors provide their Social Security number to a nonprofit? Common wisdom and universal advice says "never." But a dangerous new proposal from the IRS would change the answer to "it depends," confusing the public, stifling donations for charitable works and opening the floodgates to fraudsters. The IRS is seeking your comments on this proposal before December 16. The proposed regulations would give nonprofits the option of filing a separate new information return with the IRS and individual donors by February 28 every year to substantiate contributions of more than $250 in value. A similar mandatory proposal was considered and rejected in the past based on numerous legal, policy and confidentiality problems it raised.  more »