The U.S. South* is experiencing a boom.

Nine of the 15 fastest-growing large cities in the country (populations of 50,000 or more) are located in Texas and Florida (U.S. Census Bureau, 2023). More than half of Black Americans (56%) live in the South (Tamir, 2021). As a region, it is home to the fastest-growing Latino (Zong, 2022) and Asian American (Devarajan, 2023) populations in the country.

Following the 2020 Census, the region picked up three electoral votes — bringing its total to 191, well more than half of what a presidential candidate would need to secure the election (U.S. Census Bureau, 2021). And while most states are still recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic (Plyer et al., 2023), Southern states are seeing indications of growing economies (Sasso & Tanzi, 2023; Frey, 2022; Highlander Research and Education Center, 2019).

While institutional philanthropy has typically overlooked the South (Grantmakers for Southern Progress, n.d.; Daniels, 2021), recent figures indicate positive progress in grantmaking. Data from Candid (2023) indicate a 51% increase in overall giving to the Southeast region from 2014 to 2019 — more than all other regions combined (13%). For example, giving has more than doubled in several priority areas, such as human rights ($136 million to $333 million) and community and economic development ($480 million to $1.1 billion).

These gains represent strong philanthropic investments in the region, but they will require sustainable commitments over time to keep up with growing need and the compounding effects of historical underinvestment. That said, dollars are not the only force that moves the philanthropic sector: people do, too.

Read the full article about investing in the South by Trish Abalo and Tory Martin at Dorothy A. Johnson Center for Philanthropy.