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The Philanthropy Awareness Initiative was an independent R&D project that ran from 2005 to 2012. We've kept the website open to provide access to PAI reports and findings.

Related work is being done by the Council on Foundations, Regional Associations of Grantmakers, the Communications Network, the Foundation Center, and other philanthropy organizations, as well as countless foundations across the country.

Mark Sedway continues to provide influence consulting to foundations, philanthropy associations, and nonprofit organizations. For more information, please contact him at mark{at}sedwayassociates{dot}com.

Beyond the Cash Machine

We’re all familiar with that staple of foundation communications—the grant story. Foundation X gives grant of amount Y to organization Z. 

Can we get beyond this transactional script? Are there new ways of communicating so that the dominant impression of foundations is more likely to be change agent than cash machine? Two new PAI Digests say yes.

Moving Beyond the Money, the second in a series by Theodora Lurie, analyzes how one foundation promoted better media coverage of philanthropy through editorial board outreach. Put Your Mouth Where Your Money Is provides a candid and practical point of view from Rich Neimand and Dave Clayton on how foundations can talk about the value they bring society—and in a way that speaks to more than the money they grant.

Moving Beyond the Money, the second in a series by Theodora Lurie, analyzes how one foundation promoted better media coverage of philanthropy through editorial board outreach.
 
Put Your Mouth Where Your Money Is provides a candid and practical point of view from Rich Neimand and Dave Clayton on how foundations can talk about the value they bring society—and in a way that speaks to more than the money they grant.
Moving Beyond the Money, the second in a series by Theodora Lurie, analyzes how one foundation promoted better media coverage of philanthropy through editorial board outreach.
 
Put Your Mouth Where Your Money Is provides a candid and practical point of view from Rich Neimand and Dave Clayton on how foundations can talk about the value they bring society—and in a way that speaks to more than the money they gran
Moving Beyond the Money, the second in a series by Theodora Lurie, analyzes how one foundation promoted better media coverage of philanthropy through editorial board outreach.
 
Put Your Mouth Where Your Money Is provides a candid and practical point of view from Rich Neimand and Dave Clayton on how foundations can talk about the value they bring society—and in a way that speaks to more than the money they grant.

What works?

We hear this question a lot when talking with foundation leaders about the challenge of connecting with their counterparts outside philanthropy. Two new PAI Digests provide some answers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Not Exactly Retiring in Florida tells the story of how a statewide summit helped accelerate the conversation between philanthropy and state government leaders. Moving Beyond the Money, the first in a series by Theodora Lurie, analyzes an NPR Morning Edition story that went beyond the typical transactional coverage of foundations.

Editorial Boards: A Fruitful Way to Go Outside

Sherry Magill, president of the Jessie Ball duPont Fund in Jacksonville, recently sat down with the editorial staff at the Daily Record for a conversation about the foundation and the future of the nonprofit sector. Check out the results of her interview here.

Many foundations are finding that meeting with editorial boards are a fruitful step in reaching outside leaders. Stay tuned for a PAI “Moving Beyond the Money” Digest on how the Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust in Phoenix has done just and cultivated a strong relationship with the Arizona Republic.

Reimagining the Role of Trustees

“Might trustees be the solution to the woeful lack of knowledge civically engaged Americans have about foundations?”

This is the question Jane Wales, Vice President of Philanthropy and Society at the Aspen Institute, asks in her January piece for the Huffington Post. To get some answers, she looks to a PAI project with the Council of Michigan Foundations that’s currently working to equip trustees as foundation ambassadors. How can this critical group be mobilized to communicate the value and work of their foundations and philanthropy as a whole?

Read more in Wales’ post “Enlisting Trustees as Communicators: A New Model for Foundation Communications?” here. You can also listen to a quick interview with Mark Sedway, PAI’s Project Director, about the project (called “Philanthropy 3D – Michigan”) here.

Q&A: High Expectations, High Opportunity?

PAI-Herr interview.jpg

 

 

 

 

Watch this interview with Mark Sedway, PAI’s Project Director, about recent survey findings that suggest engaged Americans have high expectations for philanthropy. And hear about some of the communications barriers foundations need to overcome to reach these stakeholders. Susan Herr from the Communications Network asks some challenging questions, including: “Who cares what people think of philanthropy?” and “Can philanthropists really be more effective when folks know and like us?”.

Wales Asks: Are We Getting the Point?

Jane Wales, Vice President of Philanthropy and Society at the Aspen Institute, blogs about PAI's High Expectations, High Opportunity report in her post, "Information-Expectation Mismatch: Philanthropy's Story Continues to go Untold," for the Huffington Post.

Check out what she has to say in her blog post here.

A CEO Says Numbers Not Enough

Meredith Jones, president and CEO of the Maine Community Foundation, blogs about PAI's High Expectations, High Opportunity report and a workshop she participated in as part of the Outreach 2010 project in her post, "Beyond the Numbers," for the Maine CF's blog.

Check out what she has to say in her blog post about better telling her foundation's story here.

Three Pieces of Good News for Foundations

HighExpectations-thumb.pngIf you want to help foundations better connect with engaged Americans—the 12% of U.S. adults who serve as staff, committee or board leaders for organizations working on community or social issues—we’ve got good news and bad news for you. The bad news you might already know: philanthropy faces a sizeable awareness deficit among these citizens. Most simply aren’t aware of foundations, their work, or their impact.

The good news is captured in PAI’s latest report, High Expectations, High Opportunity, based on a Harris Interactive survey of these engaged Americans. The survey suggests three communications opportunities to make better connections with these citizens.

A Take on Survey of Engaged Americans

Dave Clayton, Neimand Collaborative

It’s interesting for me to step back and consider the take-aways from this PAI survey of engaged Americans. I can’t do it without reflecting on my early experiences researching public perceptions of foundations. While the political and economic contexts have varied tremendously in the past 15 years, I think we’ve made steady progress in understanding how to communicate our contributions and in actually doing it. I see the next five to ten years as a time of great success for foundations in building relationships, working as partners and having their value understood and appreciated by civically minded citizens, business leaders and public officials.

Communicating During the Downturn

Marcia Sharp, Millennium Communications Group

Outreach2010-LOGO.pngOutreach 2010 is a program that takes foundation CEOs and other leaders through a structured day, to rethink and ramp up their communications in the economic downturn. It’s focused on reaching community leaders.

We started it because we thought the stakes were very high for foundations in this recession. There would be not enough money to go around in communities. Too many foundations, if they followed the usual pattern of saying little and engaging less, would come off looking like the hoarders who sat out the recession. And they would add less value to their communities in a time of trouble than they could or should.

Early Findings from State Decisionmaker Interviews

Lisa Dropkin and Pam Loeb, Edge Research

Pam Loeb and Lisa Dropkin talk about midpoint findings from interviews with elected and appointed government officials and journalists in ten states across the country to understand their perceptions of foundations and the drivers of those perceptions.

Lisa:  We went into this with the idea that many elected and appointed officials would not know very much about foundations.  How do you think that theory is holding up?

Pam:  Well some don’t, but I have been surprised by the number of people I have interviewed who have had direct experiences with foundations.

Lisa:  Yes, many of them have been grantees or partners of foundations and have struggled with the same types of issues we hear from nonprofit directors. For example, many decisionmakers have complained that foundations don’t stay committed to projects long enough.

What You Can Do Today

What You Can Do Today

Latest Research and Stories

Moving Beyond the Money: Case Study Two

> Solutions

Read this case study of how one foundation engaged the editorial writers of its state’s leading newspaper to promote informed coverage of philanthropy. It’s the second in a series by Theodora Lurie on news coverage that conveys a broader vision of foundations and the strategies...

Put Your Mouth Where Your Money Is

> Solutions

How can foundations start talking today about the value they bring to society—a value that describes more than just the money they grant? Rich Neimand and Dave Clayton of Neimand Collaborative suggest strategies, adaptable messaging, and examples to help you get started.

Moving Beyond the Money: Case Study One

> Solutions

Read this case study of an NPR Morning Edition piece that captured the risk-taking role of a foundation. It is the first in a series by Theodora Lurie, former journalist and foundation communications officer, on news coverage that conveys a broader vision of foundations and the...

High Expectations, High Opportunity

> Survey Results

Engaged Americans expect a lot of foundations even if they know little, according to recent waves of a survey by Harris Interactive. In a time of crisis, these citizens, who make up 12% of the American adult population, are looking to foundations to find solutions to society’s problems,...

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Projects

Survey of engaged Americans

Harris Interactive

Tracking promising foundation efforts

The Giving Practice, Philanthropy Northwest

Outreach 2010, Helping foundations plan outreach strategies

Millennium Communications Group & the Connecticut Council for Philanthropy, Maine Philanthropy Center and Ohio Grantmakers Forum

Philanthropy 3D, Developing messages and mobilizing trustees

Council of Michigan Foundations, Hattaway Communications & the Community Research Institute at Grand Valley State University