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Give Dollars, Get Change… And Then Talk About It

Spurred on by research from the Philanthropy Awareness Initiative that shows the public isn’t getting the full story about foundations because what’s reported by the media is mostly “transactional”—the number and size of grants awarded—the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation is piloting a new way to bring attention to its work and more importantly, its accomplishments.

According to Communications Director Eric Brown, the foundation recently made a grant to fund a dozen minority law students in summer internships working on legal issues related to the environment. Said Brown, “Normally, we would make the grant, write a brief announcement, and leave it at that. Instead, we decided to wait until the interns had completed their internships and then try to tell a more compelling story about who the interns were and what they learned.”

To show how this new approach differs, Brown provides examples of how it typically would announce a grant program and what, in this case, it actually released. (See below.) Brown notes that as part of the effort to tell more compelling stories about the foundation’s impact, Jack Fischer, a former Mercury News reporter, recently joined the communications staff.

As to whether this new approach “will make a difference,” Brown says, that is to be determined.

How Grants Are Usually Announced

What the Foundation Actually Did


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