June 28, 2011

More Than 90% of Foundation Communicators Use Social Media

Foundations may sometimes be viewed as out of touch with new technology, but 93 percent of foundation communicators use social networks in their jobs, according to a new survey of the people who handle communications for 155 private and community foundations.

Forty-four percent of communications staff members said they spend up to 10 percent of their time "posting content, interacting with audiences through interactive media, adapting content, producing media, and developing new-media campaigns."

About 45 percent of foundation communication officials said they devoted 11 to 50 percent of their time to social media, and 3 percent said they spent more than half of their time on social media.

The survey was conducted by the Communications Network, a group that represents grant makers.

Among other results:

  • Web sites and electronic communications accounted for 24 percent of the communications budgets of those surveyed, more than any other category.
  • About 29 percent of foundation communications staffs said Twitter was the most effective social-media tool, followed by Facebook (27 percent) and YouTube (10 percent).
  • About 18 percent said no social-media tool had been useful.
  • Foundation officials believed that the best way to reach current grantees is through group e-mails or newsletters (78 percent), followed by a Web site or blog (77 percent), direct e-mail or phone calls (59 percent), or social media (53 percent).
  • More than three-quarters of staff members (76 percent) said their organization was using online video.

The full report is available free on the Communications Network's Web site.

From our archives: Listen to our  Social Good podcast to learn how some foundations, including the Overbrook Foundation, in New York, and the Evelyn and Walter Haas Jr. Fund, in San Francisco, are using social media in creative ways.