Last week, I sat in on a webinar from the Center for Effective Philanthropy on their new report, Grantees’ Limited Engagement with Foundations’ Social Media (PDF).
The report contains some worrying statistics:
- 80% of surveyed grantees said that their nonprofits use social media, but only 16% of respondents said that they personally follow the efforts of the foundations funding them.
- Social media ranked as the least helpful of five communications avenues to learn about these foundations.
- Interacting and sharing ideas with foundations was ranked below getting foundation news in a list of ways social media could be useful, even though one of the main features of social media is supposed to be its interactivity.
Although I have some questions about the survey’s methodology (such as, are executive directors the right people to ask about following their funders’ social media?), the concerns that it raises are undeniably important: how can foundations do better in reaching their grantees using social media, a communications avenue that grows more important every year?
Fortunately, Elizabeth Miller, communications associate at MCF member Knight Foundation and a panelist on the webinar, offered some key insights when sharing the Knight Foundation’s engagement efforts:
- Create a social media positive culture throughout the foundation. In other words, make the entire staff feel welcome and encouraged to engage on social media, instead of leaving it up to one organizational account. One outward sign of this is the Knight Foundation staff webpage, where Twitter handles are included for each individual who has one, including the president and CEO. That way, grantees and others can carry their personal connections with Knight Foundation staff over into the realm of social media.
- Actively engage with grantees. Knight Foundation staff follow the social media accounts of their grantees, and if they know of a big event, significant report or other highlight, they will use social media to spread the word and encourage their community to check it out. This not only helps grantees reach their goals, it also shows a connection and interest in the nonprofits Knight Foundation is funding. If you are interested in having your social media accounts be an interactive space, the best way to make it happen is to start interacting yourself!
The entire webinar is now available to watch on YouTube.
Join the conversation: Do you work for a foundation that uses social media? A nonprofit that follows a funder’s social media? What’s been your experience with what works and what doesn’t?
-Chris Oien, MCF web communications associate