Good news in media spotlight on Buffett gift

By Todd Cohen

Warren Buffett’s gift to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is good news.

The gift’s unprecedented size, the unusual philanthropic strategy it represents, and important questions it raises about philanthropic power are generating needed media attention on the charitable marketplace.

Buffett’s decision to give most of his fortune to the Gates Foundation also should prompt other charities to think hard about how to improve the way they operate, deliver services, engage donors, shape policy and track their impact.

And media coverage the gift has attracted shows the potential payoff for charities that invest in developing and pursuing media strategies to tell their stories.

Telling stories is a critical job for nonprofits trying to secure resources in a fiercely competitive marketplace.

But the news media pay little attention to charity, and charities pay little attention to working with the media.

As a result, the public gets little news about charity, how it works, its impact and its challenges.

Charities should cultivate the media like they cultivate donors.

By working harder to work with the media, charities can educate the media and the public about the role charity plays in society, and the role society can play in charity.

Todd Cohen is the Editor and Publisher of the Philanthropy Journal.

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