The Importance of Social Networking to Grantmaking
When I decided to apply for the position of Grants Manager and Social Media Coordinator at The Burton D. Morgan Foundation last year, I had to ask my 15-year-old daughter to give me a brief Twitter tutorial.
While I was quite comfortable with Facebook, I didn’t know a retweet from a hashtag. Quite honestly, I found it to be very foreign and, well, intimidating. I still didn’t quite understand everything after my first training session, but I got the hang of it pretty quickly. Now, I can tweet with the best of them and I understand the value of Twitter.
Has your foundation delved into social media yet? If not, you really should. Why, you ask? Your foundation has a perfectly good and up-to-date website – shouldn’t that be enough? (And if your foundation does not have an informative and updated website, you really need to get on that now!) Unfortunately, a decent website is not enough anymore. Social media is not going away. If your foundation is not engaging with others on social networks, then you are not part of the conversation. And you don’t want to be left out of the conversation!
Here are some reasons you need to enter the world of social media:
The aforementioned conversation.
Social media is on fire with ideas, thoughts and discussions about the very issues that you are most concerned with. Does your foundation seek to reduce homelessness in your region? Then you need to know everything that’s going on with this population, you need to know the pulse of the region, and you’ll want to be on top of the latest ideas and projects designed to address the issue in both your region and other geographic areas as well. You need to know what others are saying and what others are doing.
Participate in the conversation.
By the same token, you will also want to have a voice in these conversations. Your foundation is, after all, an expert on homelessness (or whatever your mission may be). People and organizations will look to your foundation and want to know what you have to say. Establish yourself as a thought leader and don’t be absent from the conversation.
Social networking fosters collaboration.
By monitoring and interacting with like-minded individuals, organizations, and other philanthropic entities, you are building bridges that will help facilitate collaboration to advance your mission.
Partner with your grantees in a more meaningful way.
Providing funding to our grantees is an important way in which we impact the community and advance the mission of our foundation and grantees, but it is not the only way we can partner with them. We believe in our grantees and have the opportunity to champion their causes. By showcasing their projects and good works on social media, we can help to further promote their mission, educate the community, and connect them to other grantees, resources, and likeminded individuals and organizations.
Social media will also help you stay connected with other foundations and philanthropic organizations.
This will make it easier to stay connected between GMN conferences and keep abreast of current news, trends, and industry regulations.
How do I get started?
- Determine which sites are right for your foundation. Quantifying the number of available social networks is no easy task; social media is constantly evolving and new networks regularly pop up. Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn are the most popular sites. You need to determine who your audience is (or should be) and which sites will help you to engage with them.
- Don’t try to be too many places; pick one or two platforms that are the best fit for your foundation and regularly post, tweet, or otherwise engage.
- Find someone who is knowledgeable about social media and the networks you are considering to show you the ropes. There is also a great body of knowledge and numerous tutorials online that will help you learn and answer your questions.
- Make use of available analytical tools to help gauge how users are engaging with your website and social media sites.
- Be sure to use your website to drive traffic to your social media sites, and vice versa.
You won’t be an expert right away, but the more you engage in social networking, the more knowledgeable, strategic, and effective you will be. So quit delaying and happy tweeting!