Foundations Say Increasing Digital Communications Is a High Priority, Survey Shows
Press Release (June 4, 2011) — Communications professionals at America’s grantmaking foundations are responding to the digital age, according to a new survey from the Communications Network. The survey of 155 foundation communicators shows U.S. foundations are making use of all forms of digital communications, especially social media, a top priority. The survey results suggest the growth of social media and other emerging digital technologies is changing the way foundations communicate with target audiences.
Almost half of foundation communicators surveyed (47%) said they work for organizations that have blogs and over three-quarters (76%) host videos on their websites. On average, respondents estimated that nearly a quarter (24%) of their communications dollars in 2011 would be spent on electronic communications, more than any other tactic, although printed annual reports and other print publications still consume a sizeable share of the communications budget. Increasing capacity for new media and related digital work was cited as a high internal priority by 60 percent of survey participants, more than any other response.
“As philanthropic organizations continue their efforts to advance social change, they are increasingly relying on online communications to support this work,” said Bruce S. Trachtenberg, executive director of the Communications Network. “Like many other organizations dealing with leaner budgets, foundation communicators are expected to do more with less while keeping pace with the changing communications landscape. A foundation communicator these days needs to be well-versed and agile in using a variety of communications strategies – from traditional media relations to tweeting and blogging – to reach key audiences in immediate, highly targeted ways.”
The survey results show that despite the economic slowdown, budgets for foundation communications have remained stable over the last three years for nearly half of the survey respondents (49%). Over a third of the respondents (34%) said their budgets declined, and 17 percent said their communications budget increased over the past three years. Online and social media projects, such as multimedia production and other interactive tools, were at the top of communicators’ wish lists, but respondents said budget allocations for these projects remain small.