Some Things Bear Repeating
Almost one year ago today, just after the Network conference last year in Boston, I posted on what has been one of the perennially hot topics among our Network members: the integration, or sometimes, the lack thereof, between communications and program staff at foundations. The post received some thoughtful comments, including a great response post from Ben Rodriguez, program officer at Connecticut Health Foundation. The exchange reminded me of a few important things: that sometimes, the tension between program goals and communications goals is a good, healthy dynamic; also, that it’s not always program officers who don’t “get” communications, sometimes it’s communications officers who don’t “get” strategy.
At this year’s Network conference (this week! So excited!) we have at least three breakout sessions that will explore the differences between the program and communication roles in philanthropy. Every year, the Network Board members make the rounds with all of our session organizers and speakers, to try and share the Board’s First Commandment of Conference Planning, which is, Thou Shalt Not Suck, and even though we don’t always succeed in our mission, I can tell you, I think the program-communications sessions are going to be good. I touched base with Kevin Corcoran from Lumina and Suzanne Walsh from Gates, two program officers who are going to ask their audience to sit right at the intersections of where program and communications questions cross. I also checked in with Anne Weiss (program) and Alexis Levy (communications) from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, to hear about how they’re going to dish on the ingredients of what has been a very long marriage of program and communications for both of them.
On another topic: on Friday, a bunch of people want to have breakfast roundtable discussions with you, and then we’re going into a plenary session to discuss the Network’s strategic plan for the future. For those of you who have been around for a while, how many strategic planning processes have you gone through? Yes, lots. So why should you care about the Network’s strategic plan? Because we need you. We need you to help us get to the future we described in our plan. And also: we’re giving away cool prizes if you stay for Friday’s session. We’re not above the material incentives, you see.
See you in a few!
Minna Jung is communications director at the David and Lucile Packard Foundation and vice chair of the Communications Network.