Monthly Archives: March 2010

San Diego Giving Stories

San Diego Grantmakers regularly publish a feature called San Diego Giving Stories. These profiles of local grantmakers offer a glimpse into the many ways institutional philanthropy is making a difference in the community. Even here in Virginia, separated by the width of the country, these stories are still touching and encouraging. It’s amazing how an individual’s story with its specificity and own quirks can bring the idea of philanthropy to life.

After the jump is latest San Diego Giving Story: The Kenneth A. Picerne Foundation. Continue reading


Book Review: The Tyranny of Dead Ideas

Guest Post by Washington Grantmakers President Tamara Copeland

For the last year now, many have been talking about the “new normal” as we all adjust to what portends to be a new economic reality. But, if we sat down to define the new normal, it’s likely that we would all define it differently.

In The Tyranny of Dead Ideas: Revolutionary Thinking for a New Age of Prosperity, Matt Miller, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress and a contributing editor to Fortune, suggests that just as we share language with differing meaning, we also share broad concepts that we define similarly, but that they simply are not true. They may have been true at one time, but now they are more mythic than real.
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Using Video to Tell Your Story: Examples, Tools, and More

I’ve had video on my mind lately. A guest post at the Communications Network Blog by Helen Lowe, president of Catalytica and former head of visual communications for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, called “Which Stories Are You Likely to Remember?”  sealed the deal for me this morning. It’s a compelling, if not scientific, argument for using video to tell your organization’s stories.

We recently launched the Forum’s YouTube Channel with videos of presentations from Foundations on the Hill. It was our first foray into filmmaking so we kept it pretty simple. Other regionals have been working with video much longer and have developed a more sophisticated style. For example, Minnesota Council on Foundations recently had MCF diversity fellow Tawanna Black lead a conversation on encouraging diversity among positions of power within philanthropic organizations, with several other good examples on their YouTube Channel.

Another effective example of video storytelling comes from Michigan Council on Foundations YouTube Channel. Below is their video of their 2009 Summer Youth Leadership Conference.

What I like about this video is that it shows a narrative of events. You get the feeling of what it was like to be there in person. It’s important to note that the video contains very little actual video. Most of it is photos set to music. That goes to show that you don’t need fancy video equipment to create an engaging multimedia presentation. Animoto is a service that I like for creating video slide shows from photos. There are others, such as Microsoft’s Windows Movie Maker. Just look around and find what tool suits you best.

Video doesn’t always have to tell a story; sometimes video can be very practical. Take Iowa Council on Foundations‘s tutorial on how foundations can use Issuu.

Joseph Piearson does a great job explaining how the service can be used, while the video show each step. By the end, I feel pretty confident that I could use Issuu to do some cool things for my organization.  You can find even more at ICoF’s YouTube Channel.

You may have noticed that all these examples come from YouTube. There are other video hosting services, but YouTube has a few distinct advantages. First, it’s the largest video distributor on the planet. If you want your video to be seen and discovered, it’s good to go where the people are. Second, YouTube offers a nonprofit program that is easy to sign up for and lifts the limits imposed on most video sharing sites (such as file size or video length). Thirdly, a nonprofit YouTube Channel allows you to insert what they call “Call to Action Overlays.” You’ve probably seen these in YouTube videos before in the form of ads. As a nonprofit YouTube user, you can add your own overlays with links to your website or  information about a cause.

Other services that you might consider include Vimeo, DailyMotion, and [Note to KM Partners: All of these services, including YouTube, are embeddable in our shared CMS.]

Are there other regionals or regional association members using video to tell their stories? If so, how? Can you point me to any other effective examples?

If you’ve been hesitant to include video in your communications, what are the major barriers you face?

FOTH: Another Perspective

Get yourself over to SECF’s Philanthropy South blog for FOTH testimony from Helen Ishii, Director of Member and Government Relations at SECF and a six-time FOTH veteran.

NCG on the Arts

Northern California Grantmakers have had a few great arts-related posts in the past day or so. First comes “10 Lessons on Supporting Individual Artists” by NCG member and Durfee Foundation president Claire Peeps.

  1. Artists would rather receive a grant by application than by nomination.
  2. Artists don’t want to be categorized by discipline or career level.
  3. Small grants are like stepping stones.
  4. Ease of application and quick turnaround are highly valued.
  5. Funding is needed at all levels of artistic development.
  6. Artists support artists.
  7. Grants encourage artistic risk-taking
  8. Local giving builds community and keeps it current.
  9. Artists make great panelists.
  10. Optimism Matters.

If you want more, read Claire’s full report, “Supporting Individual Artists: 10 Years, 10 Lessons.”

Just yesterday, NCG posted a link to Marc Vogl’s “Changing the Game: Next-Generation Strategies for the Arts” from the recent Grantmakers in the Arts conference. Well worth a read for anyone interested in supporting artists and arts organizations.

Photo of Daniel Chester French’s “Angel of Death and the Sculptor” courtesy of : / CC BY 2.0


If you read this blog, you already know what FOTH is all about. But have you been there? Have you experienced FOTH? Here’s a taste, with more over on our YouTube Channel. This is Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) talking about how to build Congressional relationships to affect change.

Foundations to Congress: Collaboration Vital to Addressing America’s Challenges

Philanthropic Leaders Meet to Align Efforts, Seek Policy Changes, and Strengthen Impact

Washington, D.C.  March 22, 2010 — More than 200 philanthropic leaders, foundation executives, and staff from 33 states and the District of Columbia convened in Washington, D.C., last week for the eighth annual Foundations on the Hill (FOTH). Co-sponsored by the Council on Foundations and the Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers, the two-day event provided a platform for grantmakers to raise awareness about their philanthropic efforts and to emphasize foundations as collaborative partners and resources for informing policy solutions.

“The philanthropic community is often at the center of fostering innovation and driving real solutions to improve the lives of families in our communities and throughout the world,” said Steve Gunderson, president and CEO of the Council on Foundations. “While foundations are not a financial solution to the budgetary challenges facing state and federal governments, we are committed to working with members of Congress and all of our partners to make sure we have the right policies to strengthen our impact even more.” Continue reading