Foundation communications goes far beyond an annual report or the occasional press release about grantees. And it's no longer the exclusive domain of big foundations, communications staff, or consultants. Integrating communications is critical to advancing programmatic goals. See how grantmakers use a "communications lens" to develop strategy, evaluate impact, take advantage of new media technologies, and more.
If communications is strategy, why is it so often squeezed in at the very end? A consultant who frequently advises foundations and nonprofits on communications described a typical scenario: “We’ll get a call from an organization saying, ‘We have a report with some really interesting findings on education in California, and we want to release it in three weeks. Will you help us?’Read More »
However you decide to use new media tools, remember that the fundamental questions of sound communications strategy still apply: What are my objectives? Who am I trying to reach? What do I want them to do? What is the best way to reach and engage them? And finally, is social media the most effective way to do so?Read More »
Call it participatory communications, interactive communications, or something else entirely: whatever you call it, there’s something new going on, and it’s definitely multidirectional. It’s about not just communicating to but communicating with or among. And new technologies may be driving the change.Read More »
One program officer put it this way: ”‘Spin’ and ‘messaging’ can sometimes make it feel like the nuance is lost. The story gets too simplified.” A common tension around communications for program officers lies in the winnowing of content that communications officers often seek in an effort to make a message simpler and more compelling; program staff may feel that complex problems can only be reduced so much.Read More »
One unusual tool is Chartcart, a utility that enables users to “create a presentation using commonwealth fund charts”. As the website explains, readers can browse a large collection of charts, arranged by topic (such as “health care quality,” “equity and special populations,” “international health policy”), and select a collection that downloads pretty much instantly to the user’s computer.Read More »
Smart Chart by Spitfire Strategies. Available in print or online interactive editions, the Smart ChartTM is a planning tool that helps nonprofits develop high-impact communications strategies. The tool is also useful for grantmakers to develop their own program communications, and evaluate grantees’ communications strategies.
Communications is more than just publicity: it’s all the ways a foundation advances its own programs and the work of its grantees by connecting with clients, community leaders, the press, donors, peer organizations, funders, and other constituencies.Read More »
Online media tools are changing foundation and nonprofit communications. But how widely are those tools being used, and for what? As we developed our guide Communicating for Impact: Strategies for Grantmakers, we pitched the question to subscribers. Well over 1,500 responses came in, split evenly between grantmakers and non-grantmakers (including grantees, consultants, academics, and others).Read More »
To push your thinking about communications to another level, try these activities: