Saturday, February 15, 2014

Advancement Services; Integrating Social Media into Funder Research

For those of you who have been following my work, you know that I started early on - now nearly four years ago - delving into teaching others about how to integrate social media into research on funders such as private and corporate foundations.  I've spoken in many settings on this topic and this week, I've literally taken my show on the road and am speaking at the CASE VIII Conference taking place in Vancouver, BC.  My talk was incorporated into the Advancement Services track. I can see you furrowing your brow and scratching your head that you're wondering why this field of study is relevant to you, but wait!  There's more!  What better way to strengthen the pipeline than profiling our best prospects by better utilizing social media.

At this morning's talk entitled, "Building on the Basics While Integrating Social Media Platforms," I shared trends in this area and lead a discussion and hands on exploration how these concepts and tools are practical to the work of our colleagues.  We considered studies that described how funders perceived themselves through their social media presence and that the understanding is important to how the Foundation communicates the qualities it is seeking in a grant applicant.  After all, isn't a grant application somewhat like an audition?  Many will audition, but only one or a few will be cast in a starring or supporting role.

In the course of this short hour, we also contrasted two foundations; The David and Lucile Packard Foundation and the Bill and Melinda Gates foundations and their respective uses of social media as an extension of their respective work. Judging from the breadth of the social media and internet presence that one funder still views social media platforms as a means of "announcing" or "instructing" the community (and prospective grantseekers) while the other funder employs a variety of platforms to elicit feedback and ideas (innovations) from the community (and prospective grantseekers.)

Participants came away with many practical tools and re-energized with a fresh perspective about how to utilize social media more fully as a tool in the grantseeking process and a strong awareness of the important role of ethics in this process.

That's your dose of Fundraising Savvy!