Foundation communications goes far beyond an annual report or the occasional press release about grantees. And it's no longer the exclusive domain of big foundations, communications staff, or consultants. Integrating communications is critical to advancing programmatic goals. See how grantmakers use a "communications lens" to develop strategy, evaluate impact, take advantage of new media technologies, and more.
What's in the Guide?
- Integrating a communications lens into grantmaking strategy
- New media and bottom-up communications
- Using the foundation's voice
- Why Foundations Communicate: "Communications" used to be seen as synonymous with "publicity." Increasingly, however, funders are thinking of communications as a fully integrated part of grantmaking strategy. Communications can help grantees and programs connect effectively with clients, decisionmakers, donors, peers, the press, and other stakeholders. And that means greater impact.
- Using a Communications Lens: To use a communications lens is to ask: What do we want to achieve? Who needs to be onboard if we're going to achieve it? And how best do we reach them? Those questions can help funders and grantees connect with audiences, broaden the base of participation on an issue, and link program design with outcomes.
- Pursuing Communications Objectives: Four Case Studies: These case studies take a closer look at the grantmaking strategies behind four ambitious communications projects. Their objectives: organize immigrants to identify and address health problems, advocate for same-sex marriage rights, connect with children's theater audiences, and define an organization's basic goals and how it attracts volunteers.
- Relationships, Roles, and Strategy: Effective communications is the sine qua non of building and sustaining relationships. When grantmakers communicate well, internally and externally, with grantees, consultants, and colleagues, they can promote more effective communications among their grantees.
- New Media and Bottom-up Communications: Enlist, mobilize, listen: grantmakers are learning about new media, and the activities have a decidedly participatory flavor. A new paradigm is emerging as social media and other nontraditional communications vehicles come into wider use.
- Evaluating Communications: How can a press conference, a webinar, or an education campaign be reliably linked to changes in public behavior or policy? Despite the challenges, grantmakers say that it's important to measure the scope and quality of communications work, and how it contributes to overall program outcomes.