Most foundations believe that the best way to showcase their work and the causes they support is to highlight their grantees, and often by telling stories about who they are and what they do. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) believes so firmly in that idea that it has made grantee stories a centerpiece of its website.
Guest Post: Julee Newberger, Online Communications Associate, Annie E. Casey Foundation
One of the great things about Web 2.0 and social networking is how they let those outside foundations speak to people inside them and in some cases, beyond.
That was certainly our experience at the Annie E. Casey Foundation based on the many thoughtful, emotional, and sometimes inspiring responses to our 100Days/100Voices campaign, which we launched to highlight what the Obama administration is doing for children.
Communications Network member Eric Henderson, who oversees communications for Living Cities, a national initiative to increase the vitality of cities and urban neighborhoods, lets his former life in the advertising business show through in an intriguing article appearing on Adage.com. Henderson suggests that consumer brands (and the companies behind them) have the power, not just to help raise money for good causes – i.e. buy this product and we’ll donate to your favorite charity – but to serve as engines for driving real social change.
Philanthropy New York held a panel discussion in New York City last week with the catchy title, Internet to Newspapers: Drop Dead. The panel featured Steve Coll, President of New America Foundation, and a staff writer at The New Yorker magazine; Nicholas Lemann, Dean and Henry R. Luce Professor at the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University; and Victor Pickard, Senior Research Fellow at the media reform organization, Free Press. Vincent Stehle, Program Director, Surdna Foundation, moderated the discussion.
Not long ago I wondered out loud what it would be like to be the communications director for a foundation planning to spend down. I asked:
What would your final annual report say? How would you describe your foundation’s accomplishments? Would you have the evidence to back up your claims? Or would those achievements rest on a pile of anecdotes destined to fade over time? Could you tell a story rich with lessons? Would your foundation be remembered for the impact it created and in a way that positively highlighted what philanthropy can accomplish when done well?”
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