Chris Worman, Executive Director, Odorheiu Secuiesc Community Foundation
European Foundation Week session: European Network of Foundation Communications Professionals organised by Robert Bosch Stiftung, 31st May 2010
This session, which was organised by Robert Bosch Stiftung, was the first meeting of the European Network of Foundations Communications Professionals. It aimed to set a baseline for a potential network and examine needs/interests/potential questions. Approximately 30 foundation communication professionals, primarily serving as communications officers for major foundations across the continent heard short presentations from the Communications Network in the US and from the Foundation Strategy Group before discussing what they might hope to achieve.
Outcomes: At the close of the session, all were encouraged to write down a value proposition for such a network and their current needs/challenges. The value propositions (defined in terms of what would bring them back to the table) were primarily seeking an actively engaged, though low-input, network offering best practices and worst cases while talking about how those results were achieved. There is some interest in having face to face meetings but it was generally agreed this should begin online. Challenges that the comrades were discussing focused on social media and its role in the movement, learning how to measure the efficacy of communications, and communications tool kits.
Specifically related to technology and data was the overwhelming interest in new forms of media that may help foundations communicate. There was an understanding that they all needed to learn more but most of these organisations have a huge amount of data to work with. Presentation and framing are challenges but there is no shortage of data.
I was impressed by the group’s interest in learning and exploring tools that might help them. There was a realisation that foundations had often considered communications secondary or fairly unnecessary beyond an annual report. Some points were made that perhaps new media forms might not be very useful but perhaps could be used to focus on informing grantmaking through group-sourcing policy and program interests that were close to the community.
With all of the social media interest (including the question: is it really useful?) there may be a role for TechSoup Global as an organisation, which is tapped into developments in this area.