Guest Post: Susan Herr
During the past decade, a protracted debate raged as to whether foundations should produce printed annual reports in this digital age. (For the low down on the debate, check out this microsite, produced by the Communications Network and Philanthropy Awareness Initiative in 2010.)
Two new digital annual reports from two foundations – The Atlantic Philanthropies and The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation – suggest that a lot of arguments fueling the conversation back then have been rendered moot as foundations have found ways to breathe new life into their annual reports.
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.
Guest Post: Tony Proscio
In a recent Communications Network webinar, Sink or Swim? Jumping into the Pool of Foundation Communications, two of the Network’s most expert members fielded a question that was evidently troubling some people’s sleep: When we’re discussing our field, are we talking about strategic ‘communication’ or ‘communications’—singular or plural?
(The following post originally appeared on Transparency Talk, the Foundation Center’s Glass Pockets blog.)
Guest Post: Cedric Brown, Chief Executive Officer of Mitchell Kapor Foundation
As much as I hate to admit it, I rarely spend more than 30 seconds looking at annual reports. I’m usually attracted to the paper, design, or lead stories, but don’t really delve into the sometimes-substantial reading required to make it through one of these tomes. And who has time? I’m not sure if there’s a general trend toward simplification of such publications, but that’s what I had in mind in late 2010 when starting to consider a format for the Kapor Foundation’s first annual report.
It’s very fitting that after producing its first Performance Report, Humanity United wants to know “how’d we do?” Not just as a foundation, but on the report itself.
The 2011 report, which is published on Humanity United’s website, is meant to go beyond what the foundation feels are the limitations of a traditional annual report. Rather than just describing its work, “we wanted to use the report to as a way to ask ourselves hard questions,” says Mike Boyer,Vice President, Strategic Communications. Those questions, adds Boyer, include “are we having impact, and if so, at what level? By individual grants? Clusters of grants? Or at the field level?”