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Race and Racism: Doing Good Better

February 28, 2023

The Communications Network began this project in 2018 to learn how to best promote and advance equity communications practices for leaders working in communications for good. Recognizing there are many facets of equity, we decided the exclusive focus of this project would be race. This decision reflects what we believed was the steepest climb for communicators in the social sector, and for the audiences we engage.This project has resulted in a digital tool that offers actionable advice, In Real Life from communicators doing racial equity work in the field, and a host of resources to further learning. It is designed as a tool that will continue to evolve and inform our approach to racial equity as communicators.

COVID-19 Research with Communicators: Topline Findings

May 1, 2020

This document includes topline findings from a survey among members of The Communications Network. This survey was designed to understand how communications leaders at foundations and non-profits across the country are responding to COVID-19 and navigating the disruption that has resulted from the pandemic. Atlantic 57 conducted this survey online among 275 respondents, and fieldwork took place April 29 and May 8, 2020.

Foundation Communications Today: Findings from the 2011 Survey of Foundation Communications Professionals

June 14, 2011

(The survey was designed and analyzed by Michael Remaley, founder, Hamill Remaley breakthrough communications.)"Foundation Communications Today" updates our 2008 "State of the Practice Survey." Once again, we asked professionals who hold communications jobs in foundations to tell us "how and what are you doing?"Through our online questionnaire, we probed to learn how foundation communicators perceive their roles and whether they feel they are central to the work of their organizations. We asked questions about how they spend their time, size of budgets, what is working and the challenges they face. We also wanted to know how quickly they are adopting social media and other forms of digital communications, how transparent they considered their organizations, what are their attitudes toward communicating about failure and more.Among the findings:Communications professionals at America's grantmaking foundations are responding to the digital age. Our survey of 155 foundation communicators shows U.S. foundations are making use of all forms digital communications, especially social media, a top priority. The survey results suggest the growth of social media and other emerging digital technologies is changing the way foundations communicate with target audiences. Almost half of foundation communicators surveyed (47%) said they work for organizations that have blogs and over three-quarters (76%) host videos on their websites. On average, respondents estimated that nearly a quarter (24%) of their communications dollars in 2011 would be spent on electronic communications, more than any other tactic, although printed annual reports and other print publications still consume a sizeable share of the communications budget. Increasing capacity for new media and related digital work was cited as a high internal priority by 60 percent of survey participants, more than any other response.

Communications Network; Philanthropy Awareness Initiative; Williams Group - Talking to Ourselves? A Critical Look at Annual Reports in Foundation Communications

November 11, 2010

Analyzes the costs and benefits of private foundations' print annual reports as a communication vehicle; communications directors' views; and online trends. Suggests internal assessments and alternative ways to achieve objectives. Lists discussion topics.

Foundation Communications: The State of Practice

February 1, 2009

In Fall 2008, the Communications Network surveyed professionals working in communications at private and community foundations to learn about job satisfaction, priorities, relationships with other departments, changing nature of the work they do, among other things. This report summarizes those findings.

Are We There Yet? A Communications Evaluation Guide

December 12, 2008

Most foundation and nonprofit communicators can speak at length about the work they do and what it's intended to achieve. But when it comes to describing exactly what their efforts are achieving, few can offer specifics.This guide helps foundation and nonprofit communicators learn whether their communications are effective and what is being achieved -- and determine if any course corrections are necessary.Among the reasons stressed for evaluating communication efforts are these:Evaluation improves the effectiveness of communications.Evaluation can help organizations more effectively engage with intended audiences.Situations change - strategies and tactics may need to change as well.Evaluation ensures wise allocation of resources.The guide points out that evaluation need not be limited to large-scale campaigns or major outreach activities, but should also conducted for efforts to raise awareness of an organization or an issue. And once an evaluation is underway, the guide suggests findings be shared with those who may benefit from what is learned, such as team members, the board, colleagues and peers.The guide includes:Background on why evaluation can contribute to good communications.Four case studies of evaluation in action from the Lumina Foundation for Education, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Neimand Collaborative, and the California HealthCare Foundation.A worksheet for creating an evaluation plan.

Come On In. The Water's Fine. An Exploration of Web 2.0 Technology and Its Emerging Impact on Foundation Communications

September 1, 2008

According to the authors of Come on in. The water's fine. An exploration of Web 2.0 technology and its emerging impact on foundation communications, foundations that have adopted new and still emerging forms of digital communications -- interactive Web sites, blogs, wikis, and social networking applications -- are finding that they offer "opportunities for focused convenings and conversations, lend themselves to interactions with and among grantees, and are an effective story-telling medium." The report's authors, David Brotherton and Cynthia Scheiderer, of Brotherton Strategies, who spent nearly a year exploring how foundations are using new media, add that "electronic communications create an opportunity to connect people who are interested in an issue with each other and the grantees working on the issue."The report also acknowledges that the new technologies raise skepticism and concern among foundations. They include the "worry of losing control over the foundation's message, allowing more staff members to represent the foundation in a more public way, opening the flood gates of grant requests or the headache of a forum gone bad with unwanted or inappropriate posts."Still, the report urges foundations to put aside their worries and make even more forceful use of new media applications and tools. The report argues that whatever is "lost in message control will be more than made up for by the opportunity to engage audiences in new ways, with greater programmatic impact."Acknowledging that adoption of new media tools will require some cultural and operational shifts in foundations, the report offers suggestions from Ernest James Wilson III, dean and Walter Annenberg chair in communication at the University of Southern California, for how to deal with these challenges. He says that for foundations to make the best use of what the technology offers, they should concentrate on three things:Build up the individual "human capital" of their staffs and provide them the competencies they need to operate in the new digital world.Make internal institutional reforms to reward creativity and innovation in using these new media internally and among grantees.Build social networks that span sectors and institutions, to engage in ongoing dialogue among private, public, nonprofits and research stakeholders.As Wilson also says, "All of these steps first require leadership, arguably a new type of leadership, not only at the top but also from the 'bottom' up, since many of the people with the requisite skills, attitudes, substantive knowledge and experience are younger, newer employees, and occupy the low-status end of the organizational pyramid, and hence need strong allies at the top."