• Pdf Enemy Icon

    In Case You Missed It: The PDF Is the Enemy WEBINAR

    If you were unable to attend the second installment of our Open Data for the Social Sector series, The PDF Is the Enemy (But It Doesn’t Have to Be), hosted by The Communications Network in partnership with Foundation Center and Sunlight Foundation, a replay of the webinar is forthcoming. Please check back on December 12, 2014.

    In the meantime, you can view the slides from the presentation below.



  • Pens Down, Paintbrushes Up

    Phillip Adams – Communication Matters Mural Timelapse from Cerrone Photography on Vimeo.

    Outside the large hall where the keynote speakers held court, muralist Phillip Adams was easy to spot, with his paint-spattered chinos and rumpled shirt. His clothes weren’t the only thing that set him apart from the assembled crowd; he was at Communications Network #ComNet14 to paint.

    “This felt like a good fit,” said Adams of his commission. He liked the connection to others engaged in social change.

    For the past decade, Adams has been creating public art through the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program. He has a studio practice, too, but relishes how the public art projects he works on take him more deeply into issues he cares about. He has worked with nursing home residents and with post-9/11 vets which, as a self-described army brat, was particularly meaningful for him. There have been many others.

    Adams finds inspiration from working in the public sphere, taking cues from the physical space where his works have been commissioned, and often engaging with community residents, or a specific population, on the creative process.

    He wanted that for this project, too, and invited conference-goers, in-between their sessions on metrics and measurement and media, to put down their pens (and cell phones and tablets) and put paint to canvas.

    “A couple of the first people who did it were so focused,” he said. “You could see they were really into a place of peace for those moments.”

    He started the first morning of the conference with three canvases, on which he had penciled in his basic design. A pastel wash gave the background a watercolor effect. At the center of the middle panel is a rock cairn, “which any regular hiker knows… can always help you find your way.”

    I think all of us know about looking for markers, signposts, and other guidance as we navigate through the complexities of our work. It’s what brought us to the conference in the first place, seeking the knowledge that we hope can enhance our efforts.

    Adams also hoped his mural would help conference goers “think about the beauty behind what they do—not just the cerebral part. I’m hoping to capture that.”

    The mural, commissioned with the generous support of Knight Arts, is now residing at the Russell Byers Charter School, where it will inspire students to create their own art.



    Lauren Kay - Lauren photoLauren Kay is the director of communications for Community Partners, a nonprofit fiscal sponsor and philanthropic intermediary in Los Angeles. Follow her on Twitter at @CommunityPrtnrs.

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    10 Things You Ought to Know About Polls


    • Polls are a snapshot of the way people feel at that particular moment. Things can change. They often do.
    • Polls that regularly release their findings to the public — with information about survey procedures and question wordings — are usually pretty good.
    • Always look at the way poll questions are worded. That can make a huge difference.
    • The best way to look at polls is to look at several of them taken at about the same time asking similar questions.

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    Ending “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”
    Communications Error #1
    A Failure to Communicate Strategically


    • Communications efforts themselves can promote social justice by changing the public’s mind about key policy issues.
    • Very few non-profits integrate their communications strategies into broader, long term strategies of social justice.
    • Many social sector organizations fail to use communications strategies to change the public’s mind about critical issues of the day. And that shortcoming can have serious policy implications.

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    Lessons from the Frontlines of the LGBT Movement WEBINAR (Replay)


    • Engage a topic by connecting it to people’s aspirations and telling stories that create empathy and respect.
    • To get movement on a message, map who drives the dialogue, train grassroots messengers, arm political champions, and watchdog the media.
    • Maintaining momentum after a victory is critical. Keep an eye on the opposition’s messaging to say a step ahead, and ensure that your base stays motivated.

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