Grantmakers & Social Media: One Foundation's Story


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This presentation outlines how Oregon's largest private foundation – Meyer Memorial Trust – uses social media to help it be a national model of a regional foundation.

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Grantmakers & Social Media: One Foundation's Story

  1. 1. Why social media? One foundation’s story Social Media and Grantmakers Session Grant Managers Network Conference March 2011 Marie Deatherage Director, Communication & Learning 1Wednesday, April 6, 2011
  2. 2. Don’t even think about using social media without an overall communication strategy and plan Image from Wikimedia Commons • Donteventhinkaboutparkinghere.jpg: Anselmmartinhoffmeister • derivative work: Kfranco (talk) 2Wednesday, April 6, 2011Iʼm going to begin talking about social media by not talking about social media. Dont even think about social media withoutoverall communication goals, plan, strategy
  3. 3. Perspective is everything Dougfirtrees: Image Citation:(?) Dave Powell, USDA Forest Service, 3Wednesday, April 6, 2011Here in the Pacific Northwest, we like to use nature analogies. For example, if you are looking only at social media, youre onlyseeing trees.
  4. 4. browse/detail.cfm? imgnum=5389991 Image Citation:(?) Tom DeGomez, University of Arizona, 4Wednesday, April 6, 2011If you are looking only at a single social media tool, youre looking at tree bark.
  5. 5. Image Citation:(?) William M. Ciesla, Forest Health Management International, 5Wednesday, April 6, 2011Need to know the forest and what lies beyond it, where itʼs located, what context itʼs in, etc.
  6. 6. Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? 6Wednesday, April 6, 2011To develop a solid communication plan, strategy, you must begin by asking why and keep on asking why… until you know whyyou want to communicate, what you want to happen as a result of your communication. (E.g., many orgs/foundations begin bysaying want media coverage. Why? What people to know about us. Why? So they will give us money. Why do you think beingin the media will make that happen? etc. etc. Eventually get to information that identifies who your audience is and where/howthey get information. You need to know your story, your message...
  7. 7. 7Wednesday, April 6, 2011Lots of communication strategy resources for foundations, e.g. these from GrantCraft (Foundation Center) andCommunications Network. Good to remember that private foundations like MMT have different communicationneeds than nonprofits and businesses and even community foundations. We aren’t trying to attract donors or sellanything. For us its more about what can we do to make the experience dealing with MMT as pleasant and helpfulas possible and passing on any other knowledge and other resources we have.
  8. 8. MMT communication tools through the years • 1996: Meyer Memorial Trust gets a website • 2003: New website, email list • 2004: Active blogging • 2005: Added RSS, videos • 2006: Forums • 2007: Wiki • 2008: Twitter • 2009: Facebook, Flickr, Slideshare • 2010: New website (incorporated all social media into it) 8Wednesday, April 6, 2011Not accomplished all at once. A journey not a destination. Hereʼs what MMT has done as an example of one foundation.Caution: when you know what one foundation does, you know one foundation. Your needs might be different from ours.Timeline shows incorporating new tools as they come along, requires keeping up with developments in social media, stayingengaged. Helps if staff use in personal life and have geeky tendencies. Foundations
  9. 9. 9Wednesday, April 6, 2011Through all timeline, MMTs website remains at the center of all our communication, thats where we are able to explain thingsfully, offer rich variety of info. Often our other communication leads people to our website.
  10. 10. 10Wednesday, April 6, 2011Website also features social media, inviting visitors to explore. Offer options, dont force folks to do only one way. More of areward rather than stick approach.
  11. 11. It’s SOCIAL media Not about doing, about being Photo used under Creative Commons, Western Lowland Gorilla Cincinnati Zoo, Photographer: Kabir Bakie. From Wikipedia jpg 11Wednesday, April 6, 2011Social media is about interaction. Participation. Exchange. Conversation. Engagement. Use technology to be social. Peopleare social. Web 2.0 is social. MMT is social. Always asking ourselves if there is a way to do something that is interactive, thatinvites participation.
  12. 12. Image used under Creative Commons, Valeria Maltoni, Conversation Agent 12Wednesday, April 6, 2011The Internet exponentially increases opportunities to be social
  13. 13. 13Wednesday, April 6, 2011For foundations, social media offers a great way to achieve transparency. The Internet is a great leveler.
  14. 14. 14Wednesday, April 6, 2011Once we discovered the Foundation Center’s Glass Pockets project, it gave us a great way to measure just howtransparent we are and identify ways we could improve our transparency. We were really proud when we learnedwe were identified as the first foundation to meet all the Glass Pockets criteria.
  15. 15. 15Wednesday, April 6, 2011MMTs biggest communication challenge when first started and began developing communication plan: Being seen asaccessible and human. MMT was the biggest foundation in PNW (not now, but when we began), once of largest in nation,size was intimidating, reputation was you had to know trustee or staff member, due diligence make too hard for many,nonprofits suspected we would rather watch our money pile up higher and higher rather than give it away. Our website gaveus an opportunity to be accessible, open, social, invite conversation with real people who are willing to show you their highschool photos.
  16. 16. 16Wednesday, April 6, 2011Web uses human voice, our staff section shows us as human, open, can contact directly. [One of our staff members prefers totalk like a pirate sometimes :)]
  17. 17. 17Wednesday, April 6, 2011We make our communication conversational, including blogs, email news alerts, you might say we dare to be dorky. Even talkabout other things, things real humans talk about. If you havenʼt read The Cluetrain Manifesto by David Weinberger, DocSearls, Christopher Locke, Rick Levine (, I recommend it as the single best source in how to be agood conversationalist on the web.
  18. 18. Get to know the tools 18Wednesday, April 6, 2011Number and range of tools can be overwhelming, esp. since new ones keep coming. Cultivate geeky people whoseDNA makes them keep up with them within and/or without organization. Subscribe to Beth Kanter’s blog as a firststep. Follow Foundation Center & NTEN. And look beyond foundations and nonprofits... there’s a lot to be learnedfrom the world of business too.
  19. 19. Fit the tool to the job Used under Creative Commons: Henrik Kniberg’s Keynote slides from Scrum Gathering, Cape Town 19Wednesday, April 6, 2011Otherwise you run the risk of using the wrong tool for the job or using the tool wrong. You need to know where to find peopleyou want and need to reach, and/or figure out how to entice them where you are.
  20. 20. • for listening (@meyermt, #s, name, etc) • ask questions • RTs of others, resources • for breaking news, immediate action items • followers are first in line 20Wednesday, April 6, 2011MMT uses twitter for quick short announcements, announce big news here first, links to good resources, convos that can beconducted in short messages. But mostly for listening. What are people saying about MMT? Get asked questions for fast/shortresponse. What are people saying about things were interested in. Do quick short surveys. Crowdsource. Retweet. Share.
  21. 21. 21Wednesday, April 6, 2011E.g., announcement of new grant fund made Trending in PDX! used twitter and facebook to invite folks to sit at MMTʼs table atfunction when we had empty chairs. Third party platforms make easy to use for listening, quick conversations, being real.Who to follow? Those you would like to chat with over coffee. Those who would like to sit with you over coffee.Who to follow less loaded than who to friend.
  22. 22. 22Wednesday, April 6, 2011One day last fall, got a tweeted question from a grantwriter/consultant to NPOs about how MMT integrates socialmedia, we had a dialogue on twitter for a few minutes...
  23. 23. 23Wednesday, April 6, 2011Later found out she used in a presentation on grantwriting with NPOs. This means that a foundation’s use ofsocial media (e.g, twitter behavior) is being used by NPOs/grantwriters as measure of foundation’s informationvalue, accessibility, openness, etc.
  24. 24. • more backstory • great for listening • 2-way: comment/like • photo ops • management issues 24Wednesday, April 6, 2011Facebook. For things that take more room than twitter. Inside scoop. Not as time sensitive. (E.g., construction) More about ourwork at the margins. E.g., Mission Day. Also good for listening because convos more extended, often easier to track.
  25. 25. 25Wednesday, April 6, 2011Facebook requires policy decisions, like who to friend? Who and what to like? Assign to someone responsible and knowslegal and other policy issues. Importance of sharing some info in profile. Do you like org if give grant, do you tie to grantmonitoring? What if do badly, then unlike?
  26. 26. 26Wednesday, April 6, 2011YouTube, where we put all our videos, then embed them in our website. Makes them more social because allows comments,others to link, etc. Also find videos relating to MMT that others put up.
  27. 27. 27Wednesday, April 6, 2011Slideshare underutilized by foundations, great resource and opportunity for knowledge sharing.
  28. 28. 28Wednesday, April 6, 2011Something that’s not usually listed in social media but is one of most social acts foundations can take is CreativeCommons. We do this for all MMT produces, maybe the most important social media tool of all.
  29. 29. The GMN 6 essentials honey do list • Follow & Friend Beth Kanter @kanter • F&F Foundation Center @fdncenter • Read The Networked Nonprofit • Participate in NTEN • Use Creative Commons • Look outside NPO/philanthropy realm 29Wednesday, April 6, 2011
  30. 30. @meyermt 30Wednesday, April 6, 2011