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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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Peer to peer: At the heart of influencing more effective philanthropy

Posted By Elisabeth Hyleck, Wednesday, March 1, 2017

A new report by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation highlights the critical role of peer-to-peer- learning among foundation staff and trustees.

When looking to solve a problem or learn about a topic, foundation staff and board members indicated that they first go to a trusted peer or colleague. They also cited peers and colleagues as their most trusted source. Funders described trusted sources as people who are honest, open, and discreet. Trusted sources often have some shared characteristics like working in similar foundation roles or in a foundation of similar size, values, or geography. Interviews further confirm that peer validation is often what helps get knowledge to actually be used inside a foundation.


When asked about how they connect with peers, in particular, funders cited regional associations of grantmakers as being helpful in connecting them with one another.

The study also found that while not highly used now, social media may become a more important channel in the future for foundation audiences. Program staff, who tended to be younger, are more likely to use social media than foundation leaders, as illustrated by the fact that 27% of program staff cited social media as a primary way they seek out practice knowledge compared to 17% of foundation leaders. Do you connect with ABAG on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, or ABAG's Adventures in Philanthropy Blog? We regularly share member news, reports, and other resources for the field.

When asked in an open-ended question to list their top three practice knowledge needs, 44% of survey respondents said evaluation and assessment. Respondents also expressed a desire for more information about best practices and information about what doesn’t work.

Our Association takes seriously our role as a convener, resource for Grantmakers, and the network for givers. We know our members like to learn together, in person, and from one another. We take care to provide ample opportunities for members to connect with one another, learn about best practices, and share information. Several upcoming events are providing such opportunities: Impact Investing: Setting the Stage, A National Perspective on Impact Investing; Racial Equity & Philanthropy: Achieving Equity…How Exactly?; and a Funder Conversation about Immigrants and Refugees.

We hope to see you at one of these or other upcoming programs. Or feel free to reach out to any ABAG staff member if you would like to talk with a peer about a specific issue.

We’d love to connect with you!

Tags:  Adventures in Philanthropy; philanthropy; ABAG mem 

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Baltimore Integration Partnership Update

Posted By Kurt Sommer, Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Strengthening Baltimore’s Workforce: Reflections and Lessons Learned

For over a decade, members of the Baltimore Workforce Funders Collaborative (BWFC) have supported a growing number of industry focused workforce development initiatives, and the outcomes are notable. Through these efforts, previously unemployed residents are getting industry recognized certifications and jobs with career advancement opportunities at impressive rates. This report highlights several of these initiatives and offers recommendations on how they can be expanded. Read the Report.



Growing Anchor Institution Local and Minority Purchasing 

Anchor institutions in Baltimore are working to strengthen minority and local purchasing to create jobs and local economic opportunity. To improve internal policies and practices, Next Street, U3 Advisors, and ML Whelley, LLC are completing reports assessing the budgetary, policy, infrastructure, and planning processes at five Baltimore anchor institution. Participating institutions include LifeBridge Health, Maryland Institute College of Art, Notre Dame, University of Maryland Medical System, and the University of Maryland-Baltimore. Common findings, strengths, challenges and recommendations from the work are captured in this summary presentation made to BIP anchor institutions and other stakeholders. Review the Findings.

Central Baltimore Future Fund Launches

A new $10 million fund was launched in December to continue the revitalization of neighborhoods in central Baltimore while creating jobs for area residents. The Central Baltimore Future Fund (CBFF), which was envisioned in the Homewood Community Partners Initiative, is being managed by the Reinvestment Fund. Fund borrowers need to incorporate economic inclusion goals including minority business contracting and local hiring into their projects.  Many area banks, foundations, and partners invested in the CBFF and loan guarantee pool including the Abell Foundation, The AnnIe E. Casey Foundation, City of Baltimore, First Mariner Bank, Goldseker Foundation, Howard Bank, Johns Hopkins University, Living Cities Foundation, M&T Bank, MECU, PNC Bank, and Rosedale Federal Bank. In addition to the Fund, predevelopment and acquisition resources are also available for eligible projects while Central Baltimore Partnership and BIP staff are connecting borrowers to workforce and other partners to help them achieve inclusion goals. The first CBFF loan was made to Telesis to support the next phase of their 300 unit mixed income housing project in Barclay. Learn more about the Fund. 

‘Big Bean Theory’ Sprouts with Baltimore Anchors

This past Thursday, the BIP was pleased to host Ms. Eula McDowell and her growing Mt. Vernon Marketplace based business Big Bean Theory as she pitched to the procurement leadership and food service providers of Baltimore’s anchor institutions.   The pitch was one of the prizes for winning the School of Food/Startup Soiree’s Food Entrepreneur Demo Day this past November covered recently by the Baltimore Sun. Food is a ripe opportunity for many Baltimore anchors to support their local economy as it is a sector they all share in common and can engage through multiple avenues including catering, campus food service, as well as student and staff spending.  Over the past three years, the BIP has partnered with City Seeds to help connect anchors to local food entrepreneurs through vendor fairs and their business development program School of Food. More about School of Food and the Big Bean Theory.

Pilot Administrative Training Program Completes 3rd Cohort

Hiring local residents is one of the key strategies of the BIP to address economic disparities and is a priority for a growing number of Baltimore employers. In late 2015, 10 anchor institutions came together to support a funding application to the City of Baltimore to create a new training program committing to consider program graduates for entry level positions. With a partial match from the BIP, Humanim launched a free 13 week Administrative Assistant workforce training program enrolling 45 city residents. Participants received two of three recognized certifications including Microsoft Office Specialist, Certified Medical Administrative Assistant, and the Professional Administrative Certificate of Excellence. This past November, the third and last cohort of the pilot graduated. With placements still underway, the program has already achieved strong completion and placement rates. The pilot found that motivated anchors can be a core group of employers to create a program around but it is also valuable if the training is also oriented to support positions with other employers. For this pilot, anchors represented over half of the job placements with jobs more prevalent in medical institutions.  A variety of hiring barriers were also encountered including experience needed, availability/timing of open jobs, and lengthy hiring process. This required a customized hiring approach for each employer, a motivated human resource/hiring manager and strong communication with the workforce agency.  Challenges and strategies were collaboratively shared across human resource leaders through an anchor steering committee formed to craft new solutions and even open up opportunities with new employers. In partnership with the anchors, Humanim and BIP are looking to continue this work in 2017.

New Orleans Visits Baltimore

The Baltimore Integration Partnership was pleased to help host a team from New Orleans, a sister city in the Living Cities Integration Initiative, to highlight local anchor institution hiring, purchasing, and reinvestment strategies. Bon Secours, Johns Hopkins, Maryland Institute College of Art, Humanim, the University of Maryland-Baltimore, The Annie E. Casey Foundation, Reinvestment Fund, and the Mayor’s Office participated in the visit.  


From the News Desk

-          Baltimore leads state in growth

-          Food entrepreneurs build business savvy with Humanim's School of Food

-          Officials announce $10 million fund for projects in central Baltimore

-          Anchors/City help medical laundry firm to open 80,000-sf facility in East Baltimore, hire 400 new employees

Around the BIP

From Left to Right Top to Bottom - Presentation to Kaiser Permanente/UMB & UMMC Food Vendor Fair / NPower Graduation/Presentation to SC Community Capital/CASE World Business Chicago Anchor Conference / Next Street Presentation to BIP.

TheBaltimore Integration Partnership is funded by the national Living Cities Integration Initiative, the Surdna Foundation and receives generous local support from The Annie E. Casey Foundation, The Goldseker Foundation, Associated Black Charities, The Baltimore Workforce Funders Collaborative and the Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers (ABAG). ABAG acts as a backbone organization, coordinating and staffing the partnership.

Tags:  BIP; Adventures in Philanthropy; Philanthropy; ABA 

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2016 Annual Program Survey Results Report for Membership

Posted By Elisabeth Hyleck, Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Thanks to our members, what is consistently the most popular ABAG service? Our educational programs!

In 2016, we held 112 programs and webinars, all designed to assist and inform our members to be more effective grantmakers.  

In December 2016, we conducted the Seventh Annual Program Survey. The survey is designed to gather feedback to improve the quality of our work and capture the impact our programs may have had on your grantmaking and the community.

We are pleased to share with you a summary of the survey results. 

A personalized email was sent to 95 members who had attended three or more programs between January – December 5, 2016. 34 people responded (44% response rate). Thank you for your time and effort to help us provide you with the best possible educational programs in 2017.

We ask in the survey if any of the programs led members to take specific actions or influenced their grantmaking. Twenty people said, yes and gave examples of grantmaking decisions, aligning grantmaking with others, and sharing information with colleagues, to name a few.

We also learned from the survey that ABAG members continue to value ABAG programs for four qualities they provide:

1.       The “right” speakers and information;

2.       Great timing;

3.       Vibrant discussion with peers; and

4.       New perspectives or out-of-the-box thinking.

We will continue to make sure ABAG program have these qualities, especially including time for discussions with peers about how we can work together on issues!

When asked to name what program was most useful to them, the most frequently noted programs focus on education issues and grantmaking practice programs. Of note are that 6 programs on the list dealt with cross-cutting issues and/or were organized jointly by two affinity groups, something staff has been working on doing more of.

In 2016, for the first time, we asked about members who participate in programs remotely (either by phone or GoToMeeting). We want to share that remote participation is available for almost all ABAG programs, and while the majority of members participate in programs in person, those who have participated remotely rated their experience as “good” or “acceptable”. We encourage you to try it instead of opting out of a program!

The full report of the program survey results has been shared with the full ABAG staff, program committee, board, and group leaders. 

If you have ideas for program topics and speakers, or for further information on ABAG's events and programs, please contact Elisabeth Hyleck, Programs and Initiatives Director.

Tags:  ABAG Members; Adventures in Philanthropy; Philanth 

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Let's Give them Something to Talk About – Our Region’s Amazing Giving Circles!

Posted By Elisabeth Hyleck, Monday, November 14, 2016

Blog written by: Elisabeth Hyleck, ABAG Programs and Initiatives Director



Our region is home to dozens of giving circles that benefit from connecting to and learning from one another about a variety of issues important to giving circles.


On October 27, 2016, ABAG brought together 40 giving circle leaders representing 10 giving circles of various ages and sizes from four states to Annapolis for our eighth Annual Giving Circle Connector Gathering.


We had a wonderful day of learning and sharing with the theme: "Let's Give them Something to Talk About: Communicating with and about your Circle". As in the past, the Gathering provided the opportunity to network, and conversation about resources and best practices on how to sustain, nurture and grow giving circles. Marketing and Communications Specialist Adrienne Peres kicked off the gathering with helpful tips to guide circles in their marketing and communications endeavors.  


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, was held at the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's beautiful Philip Merrill Environmental Center. John Rodenhausen, of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation shared with us some interesting facts about the Center and its green features. Some attendees were founding donors, others new to giving circles. Some had a long history of giving, others were relatively new to philanthropy. But it was clear by the energy in the room all were excited to learn and share about the work they do.


Underscored during the day together is that giving circles are making a great impact!


Our quick in-person survey of the 10 circles present revealed that about 2,248 donors granted $1,207,000 in this last grants cycle. Amazing!


The collective power of giving circles to make change in their communities was clear, as was the passion and dedication of the donors around the tables. While the Gathering didn’t target women or women’s giving circles, all but one of the circles present focus on women or women and girls. It was inspiring to be among women leading efforts to affect change for other women in their communities.


ABAG has spent the last 15 years supporting giving circles because of our mission to promote philanthropy.


Our tagline is "Informing Grantmakers, Improving our Community” and much of our work focuses on assisting members to 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.


We at ABAG are 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 offer membership for giving circles in the region.


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


Don’t hesitate to contact me with questions!

The Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers was founded in 1983 to provide a forum in which colleagues could address common problems, approaches and interests.

Our vision is that philanthropy in Maryland will be an integral force in tackling Maryland’s most pressing problems through partnership with government, business and nonprofit decision-makers.
Our mission is to maximize the impact of giving on community life through a growing network of diverse, informed and effective philanthropists. 

Tags:  giving; giving circles; the giving life 

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Baltimore Integration Partnership Update

Posted By Tausi Suedi, Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Food Hub Breaks Ground, City Seeds Social Enterprise Taking Off