Guest Post: Michael Hamill Remaley
There was a time when almost all foundations primarily made grants to social services, the arts and other community improvement efforts and avoided direct involvement in public policy. Those days are long gone.
Many of the most well-known foundations are flexing their muscles and attempting to influence policy in myriad ways – from producing health news that increases understanding of necessary system reforms tosupporting cross-agency communication and coordination to improve metropolitan land-use policies and practice. Aggressive and innovative communications are central to the strategies employed by these increasingly influential foundations.
Do you know if your communications are working? Have you ever asked? If the answer to both questions is “no,” you’re not alone.
Few foundation communicators claim they regularly – if at all – formally evaluate their work.
To help, the Communications Network has published Are We There Yet? A Communications Evaluation Guide. Created by Asibey Consulting, and made possible by the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, the guide walks users through a nine-step process for creating plans for monitoring and measuring their communications.
When foundations consider turning their print annual reports into online versions, the question often is how to go beyond a cut-and-paste job and produce a final product that engages audiences by taking advantage of the best the Web has to offer.
And as Josie Burke, director of communications at El Pomar Foundation, learned, you also can’t simply turn former print stories into lengthy video pieces.
A growing number of foundations are making greater efforts to influence public policy, and in ways that range from producing health news that bolster understanding of necessary system reforms to supporting cross-agency communication and coordination to improve metropolitan land-use policies and practice, among others.
Aggressive and innovative communications are central to this policy work. Some of the strategies foundations are using are explored in research produced by the University of Southern California’s Center on Philanthropy and Public Policy and in a companion discussion paper, “The Communications Supercharge: How Foundations are Using Communications to Boost Policy Engagement.”