As a private foundation with 25 years of experience, the Johnson Scholarship Foundation has recently made the decision to prioritize communication. Toward that end we have hired consultants, taken to social media and revised our website. But who are we trying to reach? Why are we trying to reach them? What do we want to tell them?
The answer to the first question is that we are trying to reach potential, existing and former grantee/ partners, other grantmakers and anyone else who might be curious about what we do.
The need to reach potential grantee/partners is easily understood. We need them to know about us so that they can inquire about a grant. But why do we want to talk to existing and former grantee partners?
A channel of communication with existing grantee/partners will help us to manage our grant agreements. Further, it will give us a means of showcasing results. The Foundation makes investments (grants) but the actual work is done by its grantee/partners. Grantee /partners will have a forum to publicize successes and milestones and this will inform, encourage and in
spire others. There is an element of advocacy in this. Part of the Foundation’s pursuit of its mission and its support for the work of grantee/partners is to draw attention and resources to them. Increased communication will expose other grantmakers to the work of our grantee/partners.
We also feel the obligation to share what we learn. During the course of investigating and making grants and evaluating their results the Foundation acquires knowledge, which ought to be disseminated. Social media is an excellent tool for this and will help us to maximize our impact.
Like most private foundations, we are not well known or understood. We need to be transparent and more visible in order to do a better job. It is our task to build a larger community of people interested in the Foundation and its mission. Not only will this increase the pool of potential grantee/partners and result in more and higher quality grant inquiries, but it will bring people together to learn, compare and discuss their work.
Communication can no longer be viewed as a marginally relevant byproduct of our work. Rather, it is a core responsibility of the Foundation – and philanthropy in general – to generate interest in its mission and activities.