One of the several ways I stay in tune with the field is by following the tweets of individuals and organizations who work with nonprofits and foundations. Content is key, but there are lessons to be learned by following how the information gets disseminated and used.
I am one of a small group of 152 people who follow the European Foundation Centre on twitter. On October 5, I received a tweet from @The_EFC announcing the publication of the fall issue of Effect magazine. The tweet announced, "Autumn issue of Effect magazine is out now!" This issue asks the question: "Are foundations switched on to social media?" [PDF]
Cool content for foundation watchers and social media buffs. 24 brief articles in 36 pages. Gadzooks! I quickly re-tweeted the EFC tweet to my followers while the more gifted writers were moved to blog about the topic.
The next day at 7:51 am, I received a tweet from Bruce Trachtenberg @bsttrach, who is also executive director of The Communications Network. Bruce is a very wise philanthropy mind, who alerted us (yes, I am one of Bruce’s loyal followers) to EFC’s focus on European foundations' use of social media. We know many tweets are ignored. Bruce's early morning tweet gave me my second chance to read Effect in case I had ignored the original tweet from EFC. Hours later at 4:40 pm, I received a second tweet from Bruce alerting me to his 1:35 pm blog post about European foundations and social media. This was my final chance that week to appreciate European insights into using social media before my twitter attention span moved onward.
For the record and according to this issue of Effect magazine, here’s the recap on how European foundations are using social media:
- 21% of EFC members are on Twitter (49 members)
- 29% are on YouTube (67 members)
- 38% are on Facebook (89 members)
Gerry Salole, EFC chief executive, asks European foundations not to confine their online presence to a web site. He reminds us, “…social media is not about self-promotion, it is about multi-directional engagement with a range of stakeholders that enriches and improves the work of everyone involved.”
Foundation Center followers might remember that in September, the Foundation Center released a Grantmaker Leadership Panel Report, "Are Foundation Leaders Using Social Media?". We learned from our work with Glasspockets.org that 190 U.S. Foundations are on Twitter, 93 on YouTube and 271 on Facebook. Our leadership panel survey informed us that less than one-third of foundation chief executives are using Web 2.0 services on a regular basis.
How do we keep up with these nuggets of information gold? Keep on tweeting? Keep on blogging? I think the answer is to keep on trucking… hopefully this blog item will get our Philanthropy Front & Center-New York readers interested in learning more about how foundations here and abroad use social media. If this piece adds another follower to @The_EFC I’m thrilled.
-- Susan Shiroma, Senior Librarian, Foundation Center-New York