4 Ways to Help Grantees Share Their Stories

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This article was originally published by Prichard Communications’s Jenna Cerruti

Nonprofit organizations that receive grants from private foundations usually have beautiful stories to tell. They are on the ground building stronger and healthier communities, working one-on-one with individuals and families to improve their lives.

But oftentimes these organizations don’t have the staff, capacity or resources to invest in communications.

A foundation that invests in people and programs can make the most of their investments by supporting grantees’ communications. Communications can attract more people to use nonprofit services; it can garner support for proposed legislation; it can spark interest from new partners or investors; and it can help nonprofits engage new donors and supporters.

Providing communications support to your grantees also creates a unified voice and can help amplify your foundation’s mission.

We help foundations like the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Meyer Memorial Trust and Northwest Health Foundation provide communications support to their grantees. Here are four ways you can support grantees, too:

Host a Training

Providing communications trainings can help grantees learn new skills that they can execute in-house without needing to hire a new staff person. Foundations we work with often deploy their communications team or consultants to share their expertise on a specific topic, like social media, working with the media, storytelling or e-newsletters. You might consider selecting a group of grantees specific to one issue area or portfolio, and deploying a communications training tailored to them. For foundations that work statewide or nationally, a virtual webinar can be a good way to reach many people at once.

Check out how Prichard helped the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation grantees learn about social media best practices in a full-day training.

And if you’re interested in applying this to your own grantees, follow these five steps to launch a top-tier training.

Provide Communications Resources

Another way to support grantees’ communications is to provide resources or tools. The Knight Foundation provides basic but valuable tools to grantees, like key messages and boilerplate language about the foundation, logos and a brand manual for using the foundation’s visual assets, and an editorial stylebook to guide grantees on how to refer to the foundation in promotional materials.

The benefit of providing these resources is that you retain brand integrity for your foundation by ensuring that grantees adhere to guidelines. This also empowers grantees to talk about your partnership in consistent way.

Beyond these resources, you might also consider sharing communications templates, media contacts or access to websites or publications with your grantees.

Offer Consulting Support

It’s challenging for foundations to provide one-on-one consulting support to every grantee—there are practical and financial restraints to doing this. However, there may be opportunities where your foundation may want to provide more hands-on support in order to amplify the promotion of new research or reach a specific audience.

One cost-effective way to do this is to host monthly office hours with your communications staff or a consultant you engage. Grantees can visit in-person or virtually, and get their communications questions answered on the spot.

Build Community and Peer Learning

Convening grantees is a great way to encourage peer learning and build connections. In our experience, bringing grantees together also helps them identify overlaps in their work, and can even lead to partnerships that strengthen your investment.

Your foundation may have the capacity and network to organize social events where grantees can collaborate. Even a happy hour can facilitate valuable connections! If you want to connect grantees across state lines, convene groups online. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation connects its national group of grantees, partners and staff online through its LinkedIn Leadership Network.

How does your foundation support grantees’ communications efforts?

If you’re interested in learning more about partnering with Prichard to administer grantee training and support, let’s talk.

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