Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Top 10 Reasons Why Philanthropy Blogging is Important to the Future of Foundations

I started a blog about next generation philanthropy issues because I was having such a great time taking about the issues of the philanthropic sector at Minnesota’s monthly EPIP lunches and was very disappointed that there wasn’t another place where those conversations were happening. After talking to Jessica at the Future Leaders in Philanthropy blog at an EPIP conference about blogging’s role in developing a voice for this generation’s leaders, I decided to write my own. Creating my blog and interacting with the community it has created has not only been a great experience for me personally but I think it is part of a trend that is important to the sector as a whole. The top 10 reasons why blogs are good for the future of foundations:

  1. Traditional media doesn’t really give a hoot about what happens in the foundation world. Buffet gifts aside, it is hard to find consistent coverage of the sector, blogs fill that void.
  2. Blogs identify trends. New ideas that are bubbling up in the sector (or old ideas that are being reconsidered) first show up in blogs. Topics like rethinking the term “nonprofit”, should nonprofits play a role in election campaigns, and the public relations problem of Gen X are all being discussed on philanthropy blogs right now.
  3. Foundations are notoriously secretive and blogs are very open. Blogging about the field lifts that curtain so everyone can see Oz and as scary as that is, it makes us better at our jobs.
  4. Nonprofits are looking for clues about how foundations operate. Blogs give insight into the people behind the letterhead.
  5. Blogs invite participation. Participation creates new and better ideas than closed door brainstorming sessions.
  6. Blogs are timely. Traditional philanthropic media is usually monthly or quarterly, blogs can report quickly on things that are important to the field.
  7. Blogs give power to the young and tech savvy. You don’t have to have the budget for a newsletter to be heard anymore and that levels the playing field for young people.
  8. Readers vote with their clicks about what content is important to them. Good bloggers take reader statistics to heart and that increases the amount of relevant stories about philanthropy published over time.
  9. Blogs make writers become more introspective about their reasoning. Writing about your beliefs and decision-making process keeps you accountable and forces you to look in the mirror.
  10. Social Change is messy and so are blogs. You can’t change the world by making a proclamation from a mountaintop, you need to get in the mud and get to work. Blogs have an “all hands on deck” feeling and I think that is the only way we are going to make real change.

Trista Harris, Chair of EPIP-MN, is a Program Officer at the Saint Paul Foundation and is the voice behind www.newvoicesofphilanthropy.org, a blog about next generation philanthropy issues.


Tidy Sum said...

O.K., so lets see if this EPIP blog has got what it takes to build a dialogue.

I would love to see guest bloggers and maybe guest respondents -- even younger nonprofit leaders. They are eager to have a dialogue with funders.

And what about a regular post from a different board member? Is the board walking its talk as an organization?

War stories from the trenches would be great. What is it like being young, or Latino, or Gay, or whatever in this field?

Dare we question the sacred cows of the field or praise some fresh thinking?

Would it be possible for the blog to stir the pot a bit before framing a session at an Epip conference, printing a publication, or taking initiative?

How would such a blog move from being marginalized in the dialgoue of a constituency and become integrated as a tool?

I haven't a clue what my local chapter is up to. Hmm? Might they post an update right here?

I am so glad that y'all are up to this.

I've been waiting too see if you were going to catch on and become the vanguard of philanthropy blogging.

Rusty Stahl said...

Dear tidy sum,

Thanks for your comment!

I think you offer a great challenge, and some good ideas.

We have added writers in an attempt to create a robust dialogue on the blog - and we have a ways to go.

We will continue to invite writers and add topics. And we will try to tie in more of our events and chapters to the discussion.

I dont know what EPIP Chapter you are part of, but if you email me (rusty@epip.org) I can be sure to get you connected.


Jennifer Kramer-Wine said...

I love the idea of becoming the "vanguard of philanthropy blogging." Let's do it!