Social media not yet routine at foundations

PJ staff report

Foundation leaders are starting to use social media but not yet making it a regular part of their work, a new report says.

While many foundation executives regularly use more traditional social media like e-newsletters and Listerves, much fewer leaders are using so-called “Web 2.0” applications such as blogs, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Podcasts on a regular basis, says the report by the Foundation Center.

On a regular basis, 65 percent of foundation executives surveyed use e-newsletters and 47 percent use Listserves, compared to only 33 percent who use Facebook, 30 percent who read blogs, 11 percent who use Podcasts, 10 percent who use YouTube, and 6 percent who use Twitter.

“It is clear from the survey that usage of social media is catching on in the foundation world, but it is far from being part of the regular routine of most chief executives,” Lawrence T. McGill, vice president for research at the Foundation Center, says in a statement.

The report, Are Foundation Leaders Using Social Media?, is based on responses from 92 foundation executives among 228 members of its Grantmaker Leadership Panel that received the survey.

While regular use of social media has not caught on yet among foundation executives, 68 percent are using YouTube at least occasionally, 53 percent are using blogs at least occasionally, 39 percent are using Podcasts at least occasionally, and only 18 percent are using Twitter at least occasionally, while 60 percent have never used Twitter.

Only 16 percent of foundation executives have ever “tweeted,” or posted a message on Twitter, while 44 percent have personally contributed or responded to a blog post.

“Foundation leaders appear to be cautiously optimistic about the potential of social networking/Web 2.0 services to help further the work of philanthropy in general, but are uncertain how best to use them to further the work of their own organizations,” the report says.

Seventy-three percent believe social networking and Web 2.0 services have been at least somewhat useful in furthering philanthropic work in general, while only 11 percent believe they have not been very useful and 16 percent don’t know.

Fifty percent believe social networking and Web 2.0 services have been at least somewhat useful in furthering the work of their own foundations, while 25 percent say they have not been very useful and 14 percent say they have not be useful at all.

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