10 Questions or Less is a feature here on the Forum’s Forum in which we get to know regional association staff members a little better—their work, what drives them, and more. This week, Buffy Beaudoin-Schwartz, Communications Director at the Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers.
The New Ventures Initiative recently wrapped up with a report celebrating its accomplishments. You played a big role in the initiative and the report. Is there any one New Ventures project you can point to as a favorite?
I think the role of new ventures played in promoting the growth of giving circles across the country is very exciting, in particular the ground-breaking national research and online giving circle knowledge center.
You’ve been a longstanding proponent of giving circles, even co-authoring “Growing Philanthropy Through Giving Circles” and founding the Women’s Giving Circle of Howard County. Why do you think giving circles have such wide appeal?
I think they are a fun and inviting way for people to engage in the community and causes they care about and have a greater impact than they might alone—while learning, networking and socializing at the same time. I also think they are popular because many are encouraging the involvement of kids and entire families. As the mother of four kids, this is particularly important to me.
At least an hour a day is spent on promoting the good work of ABAG, our members, partners, regional and national philanthropy—by “listening” to social media discussions on philanthropy, as well as posting…which in turn enhances my communications efforts across the board. I think two distinct advantages are 1) the ease of use of social media to reach our core constituencies as well as the broader community, and 2) the opportunity to be a part of and perhaps help shape the philanthropic conversation that is happening 24/7 through social media.
ABAG’s members also seem to be social media conscious. Who’s doing a particularly good job?
It’s exciting to see a number of our members having fun with social media, while being effective in engaging others to their work… I think the Annie E. Casey Foundation, Baltimore Community Foundation and Ausherman Family Foundation are doing a great job with Twitter; the Columbia Foundation and TKF Foundation are doing the same with Facebook; and OSI-Baltimore is reaching and engaging people in a new way through their “Audacious Ideas” blog.
What’s one thing you do in your position as Communications Director that the Forum network can help with?
It’s been great having the Forum start to provide information and templates for news that is universal for all regionals, and guidance on new and old tools to use to promote this news.
You have a BA in Russian History. Tell me something even Val wouldn’t know.
Hmmmm, I’ll have to think back, perhaps to when I did a semester’s independent study on the history of strife between Armenians and Azerbaijanis regarding a disputed area called Nagorno-Karabakh…
What exciting projects does ABAG have coming up in 2010?
We are going to launch our new public website and private online community for members in the fall, where we are looking to engage members in a new way utilizing social media and other online tools—and will be looking to our Forum colleagues for advice in how best to do so!
Anything else you’d like to add?
I’m excited that my promotion of philanthropy work—in particular with giving circles and women—has allowed me recently to co-author, along with Sondra Shaw-Hardy and Martha Taylor of the Women’s Philanthropy Institute, a new book that will be published by Jossey-Bass this fall called “Women and Philanthropy: Boldly Shaping a Better World”—the good work of the Forum is highlighted! I really appreciate the new way in which the Forum staff is engaging with regionals across the country—keep up the good work!