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What’s Not On Grantees’ Reading Lists

When the Communications Network released its survey last summer of foundation communications practices, one of the key findings it trumpeted was the increasing reliance on all forms digital communications, especially social media, for reaching target audiences. Yet, a report just released by the Center for Effective Philanthropy (CEP)–based on a survey of leaders and senior managers at 6,000 nonprofits–may give some foundations pause for thought if they are similarly relying on social media to keep grantees informed about their organizations’ work.

The report, Grantees’ Limited Engagement with Foundations’ Social Media, shows that when it comes to social media, nonprofits aren’t closely following their foundation funders or their funders’ staff.

“While foundations and their grantees are both using social media—Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and  blogs—the nonprofits simply are not following their funders,” said Ellie Buteau, vice president of  research for CEP and co-author of the report. “That raises questions about who foundations are intending  to reach through their social media—grantees are a crucial audience for most foundations and if they are  not paying attention to their funders’ social media, who is?”

Among other findings :

  • The majority of both foundations and nonprofits in the survey are using social media.
  • However, few grantees use social media from their foundation funders or their funders’ staff.
  • Of the small percentage of grantees that do use foundations’ social media, the majority of them aren’t doing so to interact with foundations: they simply want information about their funder and content that is relative to their work.
  • Grantees find social media to be the least helpful resource for learning about the foundation.

The full CEP report is available on its website.  In addition, CEP is holding a free webinar from 2 pm – 3 pm ET, Thursday, August 9, that will discuss findings from the survey and implications for foundations. Panelists include Ellie Buteau, vice president -research and coauthor of the report; Andrea Brock, research manager and coauthor of the report; Elizabeth R. Miller, communications associate, at the Knight Foundation, and Bruce Trachtenberg, executive director of the Communications Network. You can register for the webinar here.


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