Ford Foundation: Culture Change

Staff who manage the Gender, Sexuality and Reproductive Justice portfolio at the Ford Foundation realized that their grantees needed to develop their communications capacities. “Not to develop organization-specific communications campaigns or hire communications people,” says Margaret Hempel, director of the program. “But to help everyone within these institutions that are trying to shift attitudes and norms to see how they are communicating all the time and need to be more strategic and thoughtful about it.” Organizations are grouped in cohorts of similar ability and, with consulting support, they undergo communications diagnostics, look at their communications pieces, and assess the skills and talents of staff to determine what capacities need to be built.  “The result is not just increased individual capacity,” says Hempel. “But some organizations are now working on shared communications campaigns, breaking down the competitive barriers that sometimes arise, especially where communications and development functions get tied together and organizations then don’t want to share.”