• Suzanne Features Copy

    An In-Kind Program That Reaps Its Own Rewards

    Guest Post: Suzanne Samuel

    When Kaiser Permanente Northern California created its In-Kind Communications Program, the intention was clear. By providing communications consulting, communications products (like videos, brochures, and websites) and capacity-building training to our grantees from within our own offices, we would contribute to the success and long-term stability of our grantees. The pleasant surprise was how the In-Kind Program improved our own communications practice, often in striking ways.

    A More Strategic Approach
    Kaiser Permanente’s Community Benefit Program is a direct extension of our organization’s 65-year-old mission: to provide high-quality, affordable health care services and to improve the health of our members and the communities we serve. Because we are both a health plan and a care provider, we are able to go beyond traditional corporate philanthropy to pair grant funding with shared expertise: medical research, clinical best practices—and communications products and consulting.

    For many years we had offered communications support to a handful of Northern California community organizations each year, using an ad hoc approach. Grantees would inquire about Kaiser Permanente’s ability to provide a specific product (like a brochure or video), and the requests were handled on a case-by-case basis.

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    A Quick Word With…

    A Quick Word With… is our ongoing series in which Communications Network members from a range of organizations tell us about themselves, their work and where they draw their inspiration.  This installment features Christie McElhinney, vice president of communications and public affairs, The Colorado Trust.

    A recent communications success you are particularly proud of?

    The Colorado Health Access Survey. Staff from our communications, evaluation/research and program areas collaborated to develop this long-term strategy to support our state’s most extensive survey of health coverage, access and utilization, coupled with a robust communications strategy. Already the CHAS is becoming well known, and the data widely used by many.

    When you were 13 years old, what did you want to be when you grew up?

    Wait, I was once 13? I vacillated between a ballerina and an attorney. I spent many years dancing, became a paralegal and made the obvious transition to philanthropic communications.

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    Seeing is Believing: Data Visualization for Philanthropy (VIDEO)

    Chances are good that your organization is sitting on a pile of data. How do you take those vital nuggets of information hidden in files and trapped behind your four walls and shape them in ways that help advance your organization’s work or mission? How might you mash it up with other data to create new knowledge? And how can you bring all of this to life through data visualization?

    To provide answers to these questions, we recently held a webinar, Seeing is Believing: Data Visualization for Philanthropy (Replay available below.)

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    Not Enough Time to Do it All? These Tools Might Help

    Guest Post: Sharon Hurley Hall

    When the Communications Network conducted its 2011 “State of the Practice Survey,” foundation communications practitioners said their biggest frustration — “far and away” — was not having enough time to do all that is being required of them as their roles grow.  If finding more time to get everything done isn’t an option, perhaps some help can be found in taking advantage of online project management tools.

    Here are six we identified, including five that are free:

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    Three New Strategies for Effective Media Relations

    Today, there are a lot of communications people wringing their hands about the dearth of traditional media outlets and trying to find new ways to reach out to journalists who are interested in their organizations’ work and mission. Tried-and-true distribution channels are being replaced by a bewildering multiplicity of Internet outlets. Editors and press contacts are now bloggers and Twitter feeds. Press releases can seem like ticker tape floating over a digital parade.  The challenge of placing well-edited, well-researched, in-depth material in front of the right audience can feel like trying to outpace an iPad with a manual typewriter.

    These changes also provide opportunities for new approaches. Take The Commonwealth Fund, which is investing in several new — what might be called — “media relations 2.0″ strategies. In one case, it is piloting a program to provide content for small-town newspapers.  In another effort, it is complementing pitching new journalists with educating them.  As a third way, the Fund is partnering with a venerable  journalism institution to provide cutting-edge health care reporting online.  In each case, the focus is on cultivating and maintaining cadres of professional, trained health care journalists and relationships with traditional, trusted publications. As part of The Commonwealth Fund’s mission to promote a high-performing health care system that achieves better access, improved quality, and greater efficiency for all, these programs are designed to put well-researched information about health care issues in front of a broad audience.

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