Posts Tagged social media

A Social Media Experiment that Somehow Went Right

Just before we launched the first Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Year in Research poll, David Colby came by my office about a hundred times with the same question.

“What if nobody votes?”

Colby (pictured left) is Vice President of Research and Evaluation at RWJF (my employer). He had been producing an annual list of the most influential health policy research articles for a couple of years, when he decided in 2008 that it was time to let a broader audience help choose the list. But clearly he was struggling with a common fear. Read the rest of this entry »


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Why One Foundation Believes Writing Checks is Not Enough

Toward the end of December, I saw the Case Foundation do something I haven’t seen before from another foundation. It was straightforward and helpful. And so simple. Under the heading “Great Nonprofits That Should Make Your Holiday List”, Michael Smith, V.P. Social Innovation (pictured left), wrote a blog post listing 27 of the foundation’s grantees. The post contained a description of each and, most important, a button to donate directly to them. It was a simple gesture to help organizations Case is working with in their end-of-year campaigns for funding, and an acknowledgement that foundations can and should be helping their grantees in more ways than the grant process.  Read the rest of this entry »

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My Helpful Guide to Failing at Philanthropy

There has been some discussion in the foundation world recently about failure (although probably not nearly enough). Particularly, about the question of why foundations don’t talk more openly about our mistakes. 

While there are a few “good” reasons like protecting grantees, we all know the main explanation comes down to embarrassment and ego. I want to add one more possibility to the literature.

Perhaps foundation staff members don’t know how to fail. I don’t mean that we don’t fail. We fail all the time. I mean that we don’t know how to fail with style. Failing to succeed. With that in mind, I put together a handbook on failing at philanthropy for the Philanthropy News Digest. You can read it here.

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Six Lessons Learned from Launching – and Closing – a Community

In my travels over the past few months I have talked to a number of organizations that are experimenting with online communities. I’ve heard tales of success and tales of failure. Mostly, I’ve heard that building an online community is not a task that should be taken lightly. But take heart. Others have traveled this road before. Read the rest of this entry »

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Talking About the Challenges for Foundations in Adopting Social Media

Was interviewed yesterday by Brad Rourke of Mannakee Circle Group in Rockville, Md. for his Public Life Today podcast. We had an interesting discussion about the reluctance of some foundations to wade into the world of social media. You can listen on Brad’s blog. In Brad’s words, Mannakee Circle “helps organizations engage better with the public.”



Why Foundations Need to Embrace Social Media

A few months back, I began a workshop for staff from a variety of foundations by asking them to shout out all of their whiny, cry-baby excuses for not getting involved in social media. The excuses flew at me fast and furious, like so many tranquilizer darts. I don’t have time. It’s too much work. We don’t have the resources. Can’t figure out the return on investment. Senior staff don’t see the value. We’re afraid of losing control. What if people criticize us? My shoes are too tight.

I had about forty-five minutes to convince these people that social media is more than relevant to philanthropy. That it is core to our future. I blogged about the arguments I made for the Philanthropy News Digest. Please take a look.

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Need Wider Feedback on Grant Proposals? Try Facebook

Bartel4When Maine Health Access Foundation launched its Fund for the Future initiative in May it sent a request for proposals through its usual channels. Then it added a new twist. It launched a Facebook page to get  broader feedback into the process.

Program Officer Len Bartel (left) explains:

Read the rest of this entry »

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