I was confronted (yet again) a couple of weeks ago with a pointed reminder of one of philanthropy’s biggest Achilles’ heels–the often overlooked or misunderstood importance of integrating innovative communications strategies into every program.

Peter Goldmark, head of Environmental Defense’s Climate and Air Program, headlined the Finding Philanthropy’s Sweet Spot Forum.  He’s smart and visionary, in many ways. But, when talking about a recent ED partnership with Federal Express to hybridize their trucks, he didn’t mention marketing as one of the strategies used to maximize the impact of this initiative. And, when asked by a forum participant how to get the word out, he replied that there’s no good way to do so in this age of information overload.

Yikes, so defeatist. And so disappointing coming from a philanthropic leader so smart and articulate. But so important in emphasizing that our job as advocates for the vital role of communications in philanthropic programming (on the foundation and nonprofit sides) isn’t done. And will never be done.

Read more here for guidelines on being an effective advocate, and my recommendations for marketing strategies that will build the impact of the ED/FedEx partnership.

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Nancy Schwartz in Leadership, Nonprofit Communications, Philanthropy | 0 comments

I’ll be reporting out key trends that set the context for effective nonprofit marketing, and all marketing-specific news and tips, from this interesting forum. Co-sponsored by the pithy Stanford Social Innovation Review (always lots of no-charge articles on topics from venture philanthropy to messages that work) and Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, the program promises a "fascinating roster of entrepreneurs, grantmakers and donors speaking on possibilities for innovative solutions to social problems."

Keep posted for insights from innovators including Peter Goldmark, Director of the Climate and Air Program, Environmental Defense (leaders in effective online marketing, hard-hitting messages and powerful branding) and Kristen Burns, President of REDF which enables nonprofit organizations to run revenue-generating businesses that employ and educate at-risk individuals.

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Nancy Schwartz in Earned Income/Ventures, Nonprofit Communications, Nonprofit Marketing News, Philanthropy | 0 comments

A new report from the Center for Effective Philanthropy (CEP)in Cambridge, Massachusetts, calls for a holistic approach to foundations’ communications with grantees.

A recent story in the Philanthropy News Digest reported that CEP drew on analysis of thousands of grantee survey responses to produce Foundation Communications: The Grantee Perspective. This insightful report highlights best practices of foundations that have received good feedback for clearly communicating their goals and strategies, and explores the relative value grantees place on different types of foundation communications from funding guidelines to interaction with program officers.

The report pinpoints the three keys to effective communication of foundation goals and strategy as:

  • Consistency of foundation communication resources
  • Responsive interactions with foundation staff who treat grantees fairly
  • Clarity of grantee selection, and reporting and evaluation processes.

CEP associate director Judy Huang comments, "In order to effectively communicate foundation goals and strategies with grantees, foundation staff need to share responsibility. Clear communications requires more than just hiring a great communications director."

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Nancy Schwartz in Nonprofit Communications, Philanthropy, Strategy | 0 comments

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