Foundations Say Increasing Digital Communications Is a High Priority, Survey Shows
“Communications staff surveyed expressed a strong desire to use innovative tools more often, but they also face tight budgets, so they will have to continue to be very creative in promoting their organization’s positions and products in economical ways,” Trachtenberg said.
The survey shows that reaching and influencing policy-makers were among the highest communications priorities cited by foundation communicators. Close to half of the respondents (47%) said that influencing public policy-makers was a high-priority objective. In fact, more respondents (55%) rated policy-makers as a “high-priority” target audience than any other group, although community leaders (53%) and current grantees (52%) followed closely.
To gauge the role of communications in the work of grantmaking foundations, the survey included questions about how senior leadership valued the contributions of their communications staff in helping to achieve the organizational mission. Nearly half of the respondents (48%) said that leadership has helped make communications central to key foundation activities, including grantmaking, advocacy work and other social change initiatives. Over one-third (36%) said that foundation leadership is in the process of integrating communications into all aspects of the organization’s work. Just one in six respondents (16%) said integrating communications into all aspects of the organizational mission is not happening at their organization.
“One of the main trends I’ve noticed in recent years is that foundation communications departments are playing a more central role in helping their foundations achieve their missions,” Trachtenberg said. “Increasingly, program department staff seek communications counsel on components of substantial grantmaking initiatives at their conception and as they are taking shape.”
The survey was designed and analyzed by Hamill Remaley breakthrough communications, with data collected in February 2011. Respondents included 155 foundation communications professionals from across the United States. The Communications Network conducted a previous survey of foundation communicators in 2008.