Guest post: Who’s afraid of the big, bad blog?

Ever wondered how foundations are (or aren't) using social media? A new study reveals all. Here to tell you about it is our guest blogger, Jereme Bivins of The Foundation Center.

The Foundation Center recently surveyed the heads of foundations to discover who’s using social media to better their organization. The report, Are Foundation Leaders Using Social Media?, discovered that surprisingly few actually are.

Of the 73 survey responders:

  • About 33% actively use Facebook and 30% regularly read blogs
  • Podcasts and YouTube are used regularly by 10% and 11% respectively
  • Only 6% of foundation leaders use Twitter regularly
Jereme Bivins

Jereme Bivins

In the philanthropic world, web 2.0 and social media have not been widely adopted, even though many businesses and nonprofits have enjoyed success by creatively leveraging these technologies. For-profit and nonprofit organizations alike use social media to build their brands, engage with current supporters and find new ones.  Some nonprofits have even started leveraging social media to fuel their fundraising (think: Kiva). But for many foundation leaders, taking the plunge into web 2.0 has not been as easy. Some have suggested that social media is generational and that many foundation leaders aren’t as comfortable with it as their younger colleagues. No one reason can explain their hesitance, however.

So what does this lukewarm reception for social media in foundations mean for philanthropy and nonprofits as a whole? For starters, nonprofits searching for foundation partners, but not using database solutions like Foundation Directory Online, will have to scour the Internet to find their perfect match. Additionally, it’s important for foundations to show their supporters where grant money’s going. Grants are made with the intention of fostering social good, so promoting your grants (and the recipients) helps boost their impact by increasing awareness, rallying volunteers and inspiring new donors to your cause.

Even though few foundation leaders are Twittering their days away, over 70% of them do believe that social media has had a positive impact on the sector. So, we can reasonably expect more foundations and their leaders to be on Facebook, Twitter and in the blogosphere as time goes on. But, at least for now, I don’t think you’ll be sending grant proposals via Twitter anytime soon.

Jereme Bivins is the Social Media Manager at The Foundation Center, whose mission is to strengthen the nonprofit sector by advancing knowledge about U.S. philanthropy. Stay connected with the Foundation Center on Twitter, on Facebook and in person.