September 16, 2010

Most Foundation Leaders Aren't Regular Users of Social Media

Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and other social-media tools are starting to catch on with foundation leaders, but they are hardly an indispensable part of most foundation executives' routines, according to a new survey by the Foundation Center.

The survey of 73 foundation leaders found that:

- About 33 percent use Facebook regularly; 30 percent regularly read blogs.

- Roughly one in 10 listens to podcasts (11 percent) or YouTube (10 percent) on a regular basis.

- Only 6 percent use Twitter regularly.

- Use of e-newsletters and Listservs is more common: 65 percent use e-newsletters on a regular basis, and 47 percent use Listservs regularly.

Foundation leaders were fairly optimistic about the potential of social media to advance philanthropic work, the survey found, but they are less certain about how to employ social-media tools at their own organizations.

Seventy-three percent of those surveyed said they think social-media and Web 2.0 services have been at least somewhat helpful in furthering philanthropic work. But 50 percent said the tools have been at least somewhat helpful in advancing their foundation's goals, while 25 percent said they have been "not very useful" and 14 percent said they have been "not useful at all."

While regular use of social media is rare, many foundation executives do use the sites once in a while. More than half those surveyed are using YouTube (68 percent), Facebook (59 percent), and blogs (53 percent) at least occasionally.

Twitter, however, remains largely foreign territory for most foundation executives. Just 16 percent have ever "tweeted," according to the survey.

Foundation leaders have a greater comfort with blogs. Forty-four percent have either contributed a blog post or responded to one.  

More foundation leaders were familiar with the Huffington Post than any other blog site: 53 percent said they'd looked at the left-leaning Web site at least once in the past six months.

Five other blogs were read by at least 20 percent of foundation executives in the past six months: the Center for Effective Philanthropy blog, Philanthropy 2173, The Chronicle of Philanthropy's Give and Take, the Foundation Center's PhilanTopic, and Tactical Philanthropy.