Innovating the Social: Leveraging Funder Engagement through Social Media

As a program officer at a small foundation with a big portfolio, I am consistently working with our grantees to leverage the gifts that we give to precipitate the most impactful results. Through social media, our foundation has been connecting with other public and private funders, keeping an ear to the ground with grantees, and learning about the creative and innovative projects concerning areas in which we fund locally as well as on the national scale. Through social media, we are able to bring global solutions home, as well as spread the word about local solutions on a replicable, global scale.

However, many foundations are still wary of incorporating social media into their portfolio. Funders are always asking questions about social media like:

  • What is it?
  • Why should I care?
  • Should I be using it?
  • How can it help my philanthropy?
  • How should I devote resources?

Along with Stephen Alexander, the program manager at Exponent Philanthropy, we crafted a session at the recent Exponent Philanthropy National Conference in Washington, DC, and we wanted to share some key takeaways with you. We figured what better way to have the discussion than on social media itself, so we took to Twitter for the conversation!

With the many platforms and varied user base, social media may seem daunting. However, it should not intimidate you. The most important thing is that it works for you and your organization. There is no need to force a fit if it doesn’t seem right, and you can certainly ease your way into the water simply by listening to others and watching where they find success. There is no harm in exploring the possibilities, even if you ultimately decide that you and your foundation are not ready for the time commitment it takes to effectively run social media through your organization.

Free resources from our session and others:

Rachel and Stephen led a session on Creating Your Social Media Strategy at Exponent Philanthropy’s National Conference in Washington, DC. The session was designed for funders working with few or no staff.

About the author(s)

Program Officer
Irene W. and C.B. Pennington Foundation

Program Manager
Exponent Philanthropy