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These Days Everyone Can Be A Communicator…But Is That Enough?

These days, everyone is a communicator. After all, how hard is it to send a tweet, post to a blog, or even shoot and upload a video?

Many people in charge of foundation and nonprofit communications have taken advantage of this trend by encouraging others in their organizations to develop and share content through online social networks.

Indeed, as they increasingly see that their messaging can be amplified by many voices, both on staff and off, one can imagine foundations asking: Do we still need professional communicators on staff? Why can’t we all just say what we have to say? In a world of decentralized distribution of news and ideas, do we even need a communications department?

That last question obscures a fundamental fact. A successful foundation communication program isn’t simply the sum of its tactics, regardless of whether those tactics involve “old media” like sending out press releases or more contemporary activities such as blogging, tweeting, or posting to Facebook.

What matters most is the strategy that unites these otherwise disparate elements so that the right message is delivered to the right audience through the right channel with a clear goal in mind.

That may be why the roles and responsibilities of communications staff members are actually deepening instead of fading away. And that’ll continue to be the case as digital communications evolve and the competition for the attention of policymakers, community leaders, and others grows more fierce.

The changes under way in how grantmakers get their messages out can be seen in Foundation Communications Today, a report from the Communications Network that analyzes the findings from a survey of a hundred and fifty-five communication staff members at foundations across the country.

Almost half the communicators polled for the report said the leaders of their foundations had taken steps to ensure that communications strategy was incorporated into grantmaking, advocacy, and other work undertaken to advance the foundation’s mission.

Why are foundations making communications a key element of their work? Because most foundations are in the business of advancing the public good, and the changes they seek to foster require demonstrating, sharing, and, in many cases, encouraging both public and private-sector investment in new solutions to challenging problems.

To convince foundation leaders to make communications integral to their organizations’ work, communications staff recognize they have an internal selling job to do. Yet, as our survey shows, they are succeeding in their efforts to make other parts of the organization see both the benefits of integrating communications into their work and sharing responsibility for its implementation. As one respondent told us: “We have endeavored to be a much more well-integrated organization. Complete integration will take time, but our program officers think about communications at the start of the grant process rather than at the end of it.” Another said: “As we are doing more and more advocacy, it seems communications is taking on a greater importance and our board has allowed our budget to reflect this, despite having much less money since the market collapse.”

Let’s be honest: we have a ways to go. Many of the communicators we surveyed said that efforts to better integrate communications into everything their foundation does is happening slowly, and a small but significant share said communications strategy is barely considered in decisions about advancing the mission and that it tends to be addressed at the end of a big project rather than throughout. And then there was this response: “Program staff seem to be making decisions without thought to the importance of properly messaging our work. Initiatives are designed without any communications goals—or input asked for—and later the communications department is asked to cobble something together.”

Still, our communications brethren are making progress, and the survey provides valuable insights into specific ways communications departments are successfully working with and supporting the efforts of their program colleagues to advance their organizations’ missions.

Asked to choose from a list of possible activities in which they might participate, for example, providing support for program-related events—which could mean anything from organizing a discussion of experts to arranging a movie screening showcasing a grantee’s work—was identified as the most common form of support, with some 79 percent of respondents saying they regularly do this. And more than two-thirds of communication staff members say they advise/work with their program colleagues to develop content for Web sites.

Many foundation communicators also play a critical role in helping bring the important work their organizations do to the attention of key audiences. For instance, close to half of those polled said that influencing public policymakers was a high priority, followed by community leaders and grantees.

The survey also shows how the work of foundation communications is changing. Almost half the respondents said they work for organizations that have blogs, while three-quarters (!) said their organizations host videos on their Web sites. Survey respondents also estimated that, on average, a quarter of their communications dollars in 2011 would be spent on electronic communications, more than on any other “channel,” although printed annual reports and other print publications still consume a sizeable share of the communications budget. At the same time, increased 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.

In short, the findings suggest to us that a foundation communicator these days must be adept at orchestrating a variety of communications tactics, from traditional media outreach to tweeting and blogging, if he or she hopes to reach key stakeholders in immediate and thoughtfully focused ways.

It’s also quite clear that every good-sized foundation needs at least one professional communicator on staff. Simply put, the jobs we do are central to ensuring that a foundation’s message is heard and actually makes a difference.


Published January 12, 2012
At: Smart Asset, The Philanthropy New York Blog

By Bruce Trachtenberg, Executive Director, The Communications Network and Michael Hamill Remaley, Vice President of Communications & Public Policy, Philanthropy New York

(This post originally appeared on PhilanTopic, the Philanthropy News Digest blog, on January 6, 2012 and is reprinted with permission.)

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Six Finalists Named in the Fifth Annual New York Times Company Nonprofit Excellence Awards

NEW YORK, May 5, 2011– The New York Times Company announced today the six finalists for the 2011 New York Times Company Nonprofit Excellence Awards.

The awards honor outstanding management practices and encourage innovation and communication among the large and diverse nonprofit communities of New York City, Long Island and Westchester. The awards are a collaboration of The Nonprofit Coordinating Committee of New York (NPCC), Philanthropy New York and The New York Times Company.

A total of $40,000 will be awarded to three organizations at a special event at TheTimesCenter in New York City on June 23, 2011. The Gold prize winner will receive $25,000, the Silver prize winner, $10,000 and the Bronze winner, $5,000. Each of the winning organizations will also receive a scholarship to the Social Enterprise Programs in Executive Education at Columbia Business School.

“ This awards program is all about highlighting outstanding management strategies and broadly sharing the successes and insights across the nonprofit sector,” said Diane McNulty, executive director, corporate communications, The New York Times Company .  “These six organizations should be heartily congratulated for their leadership and for developing management practices to sustain the vital role they play for the benefit of society.”

“Excellent nonprofit management has never been more important,” said NPCC President Michael Clark. “ These six organizations can teach us all something about managing smart during tough times.”

“The 2011 f inalist s once again demonstrate that our city’s critically important nonprofit sector contains many exemplary organizations that are well-managed from almost any angle.” said Ronna D. Brown, president, Philanthropy New York. “Philanthropy New York is proud to be part of this program and highlight these successful organizations.”

The finalists, who are recognized for management excellence rather than program content and vary in size and services offered, are:

  • City Harvest – exists to end hunger in communities throughout New York City through food rescue and distribution, education and other practical, innovative solutions.
  • City Parks Foundation – offers programs and community building initiatives throughout the five boroughs that reach more than 600,000 people each year, contributing to the revitalization of neighborhoods.
  • Harlem Academy – is an independent school that offers merit-based, needs-blind admissions. Working in partnership with families, its goal is to prepare each student to enter and thrive at a top secondary school.
  • Heart of Brooklyn – is a consortium of the leading cultural institutions located near Grand Army Plaza in central Brooklyn: Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Brooklyn Children’s Museum, Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn Public Library, Prospect Park and Prospect Park Zoo.
  • New York City Outward Bound – helps students from underserved communities build the foundation of knowledge, skills and habits of mind that prepare them for success in college, careers and citizenship.
  • Sanctuary for Families – is dedicated to the safety, healing and self-determination of victims of domestic violence and related forms of gender violence through comprehensive services for its clients and their children, outreach, education and advocacy.

Additional financial and in-kind support in the past year was provided by The Clark Foundation, Google Inc., the Surdna Foundation, McGladrey & Pullen, LLP, the Fund for the City of New York , The New York Community Trust, New York Life Foundation, The Venable Foundation, Wells Fargo, Community Resource Exchange and the Altman Foundation. For more information on the program, please visit

The New York Times Company (NYSE: NYT), a leading media company with 2010 revenues of $2.4 billion, includes The New York Times, the International Herald Tribune, The Boston Globe, 15 other daily newspapers and more than 50 Web sites, including, and The Company’s core purpose is to enhance society by creating, collecting and distributing high-quality news, information and entertainment. (

Nonprofit Coordinating Committee of New York (NPCC) serves as the umbrella membership and service organization for some 1,600 nonprofits in New York City, Long Island and Westchester. NPCC is the leading information source and voice for nonprofits in the New York City area on sector-wide issues, as well as a provider of support services and cost-saving programs for our members. It informs and connects nonprofit leaders, saves nonprofits money, and strengthens the nonprofit sector by building positive relations with government and advocating effective, accountable and transparent nonprofit management and governance. (

Philanthropy New York is a nonprofit membership organization of 285 grantmaking foundations and corporations in the tri-state New York area and beyond. Its members award about $3.9 billion annually to charitable organizations in New York and around the globe. Philanthropy New York seeks to strengthen philanthropy by offering programs and resources for valuable and strategic grantmaking. Its mission is to promote and support the practice of effective philanthropy for the public good. (

Contacts: Edward Bohan, 212-556-7622;
Aditi Davray, 212-502-4191, ext. 25;


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Do you really mean what you’re saying?

I’ve just read an article about the words that should be banished because of their being overused or misused by the people ( This really rings an alarming bell. I’ve been ignoring about the meaning of the word and used them habitually when saying to others. It could be that my friends, my families and even strangers got my intention wrong when I did not mean the word I say. And the problem is that I did not know about that miscommunication myself.

From now on, I should understand the word, use it selectively and really mean it when saying to my beloved people. My heart doesn’t lie but the use of words would cause pain. THINK TWICE BEFORE SAYING SOMETHING!!!

Source: Read the rest of this entry »

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Action for Better Community – Pay It Forward

When I think about how we can change the world, I think about the little things we can do to make that difference. I’m not talking about donating your life savings or taking a year off from work and life to devote yourself to the starving children in Africa. While those would be really amazing ways to create change, those options are not practical for the vast majority of us. What is possible for everyone to do is to focus on their day to day activities. We interact with hundreds of people a day, whether we realize it or not, and it is time to put attention to those interactions. Acknowledge their presence, create a positive interaction and spark that change so the hundreds of people you run into will spread positive impacts to the hundreds of people they meet that day, too.

Here is a video that displays a great example on the impact of paying it forward. Watch it. Then do it.

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Inspiring Art

Hello everyone,

I just came across this artful work of two talented artists. I’m not good at art and design but this definitely makes life more beautiful.

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Hello world!

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