It’s a concern every foundation faces: How do we ensure that our report or study gets the attention it deserves, generates useful conversation, and helps advance the featured issue or cause?
That was certainly the question for the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation as it prepared to release The Non-Profit Marketplace: Bridging the Information Gap in Philanthropy, a report that advocates for a “marketplace of information” as a way to promote more effective charitable giving.
W. Robert Connor may be a classics professor at heart – he taught ancient Greek literature and history at Princeton University – but today he spends most of his time thinking about the future, not the past.
Connor is president of the Teagle Foundation, a small grantmaking organization based in New York that is working to revitalize the liberal arts. As part of this effort, Connor has made communications a key element of the foundation’s change strategy, but in ways that you might not expect from a former professor with a love for ancient texts.
Foundation annual reports are a lot like the weather. You hear a lot of complaints, but everyone seems powerless to change them.
That’s not the case, however, at the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. Its 2006 annual report shows what happens when the decision is made to undertake a major shift in design and presentation.
When the Center for Effective Philanthropy (CEP) began conducting surveys of grantees in 2003, foundations primarily used the findings to learn what their grant recipients liked about doing business with them and what needed improvement.
Now, as a nod to greater transparency, a growing number of foundations are sharing grantee feedback from these surveys on their Web sites for the public to see. Often times these postings include discussions about improvements foundations are making spurred by comments from their grantees.
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