Below are resources—findings, stories, and ideas—for foundations and philanthropy associations to use in reaching influential Americans.

Research (PDF content or other download)

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 that brought it about.

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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.

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Not Exactly Retiring in Florida

> Solutions

Read this story of a statewide summit used to accelerate the conversation between philanthropy and state government leaders.

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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 strategies that brought it about.

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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, speak up about their work and lessons learned, stay independent from government but accountable to the public, and take action to help the nation address fallout from a struggling economy. Read about these findings, and the communications opportunity they suggest for philanthropy, in this PAI Digest.

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Philanthropy’s Awareness Deficit

> Survey Results

Fewer than half of engaged Americans can identify a foundation. They struggle even more to identify examples of foundations’ impact on their community or issues they care about, according to the first two waves of a survey by Harris Interactive.  But there is a silver lining: they still express positive feelings towards foundations and their overall social value. The survey provides in-depth findings about how this important audience perceives foundations. It also provides tips on the type of stories that would likely interest these engaged Americans. Read about these and other survey findings in this PAI Digest.

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Five Questions About Demonstrating Impact

> Leader Commentary

Foundations must do a better job of demonstrating the impact of their work, according to a dozen philanthropy leaders. In this PAI Digest, leaders weigh in on how foundations can demonstrate impact and why they should. Their opinions are at turns provocative and practical. One leader relates a story that highlights the risks of telling Congress about philanthropy’s money rather than the difference it makes. Another looks inward to uncover why foundations themselves struggle with this practice. Read more about this challenge and the range of solutions leaders propose foundations can undertake today.

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Philanthropy in the News

A large disconnect exists between how foundations want to be perceived and how they are portrayed in the media, according to this report by PAI and University of Minnesota professor David Fan. Over the last two decades, the quantity of news coverage of foundations has gradually risen, but its quality remains highly superficial. In fact, nearly 99% of more than 40,000 stories since 1990 have been transactional in their content—focused on grants made and dollars out the door, not on benefits achieved. Read more about these and other findings along with suggestions for how foundations might shift their approach so that news coverage conveys the impact of their work.

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Making American Foundations Relevant

The work and impact of foundations is not registering with critical audiences, according to philanthropy leaders and sector observers interviewed for this report by PAI and Edge Research’s Lisa Dropkin. Interviews revealed that private foundation philanthropy, which prides itself on advancing and improving the human condition, is, paradoxically, distanced from people–from those at the highest levels of government to those benefiting the most from their actions. To find solutions to this challenge, foundations need to look in the mirror, leaders argue, and make changes to their communications culture and practice. Read more about these and other recommendations from leaders in the field.

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A Research Synthesis on Aspects of Foundations and Philanthropy

Philanthropy’s substantial research muscle has largely been focused inward, according to this report by PAI and Edge Research’s Lisa Dropkin and Colleen McCulloch-Learch. Research addresses internal relations with grantees, trustees and donors, while little of it examines external relations with the public, opinion leaders, policymakers or the press. Read more about this and several implications of their findings for future philanthropy research.

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