Foundation Execs Testing Social Media Waters

In a report released today, the Foundation Center, the nation’s leading authority on philanthropy, finds that about one-third of foundation CEOs surveyed regularly use Facebook or read blogs, and only six percent use Twitter. The report, Are Foundation Leaders Using Social Media?, documents the usage of social media tools by foundation executives based on survey responses from 73 members of the Center’s Grantmaker Leadership Panel.

The report outlines which social media services are used regularly or occasionally by foundation leaders, which blogs are read by CEOs and how often, the perceived usefulness of Web 2.0 in philanthropic work, and highlights the social media activity of two “power users” in the field.

Other findings include:

  • More established forms of online communications – e-newsletters and Listservs – are regularly used by foundation CEOs at a much higher rate (65 percent and 45 percent, respectively) than the newer social media tools.
  • The most-read blog by far among foundation chief executives is the Huffington Post (with 53 percent reporting that they have read it at least once in the past six months).
  • Nearly three-quarters of respondents believe social networking services have been at least somewhat useful in furthering the work of philanthropy in general, but only half said it has helped further their own foundation’s work.

By documenting foundations’ online practices and activities, Are Foundation Leaders Using Social Media? supports the Center’s overall efforts to bring transparency to the world of philanthropy. At, a web site launched earlier in the year by the Foundation Center, foundations that have taken the lead in communicating about their work, particularly using online resources and social networks, are featured along with direct links to their initiatives. The number of foundations whose online transparency practices are profiled currently stands at 711.

Grantmaker Leadership Panel

The Foundation Center’s Grantmaker Leadership Panel draws upon the expertise of 228 chief executives at leading U.S. private and public foundations on critical issues of interest to the sector, providing a regionally representative sample of the largest 400 independent and 200 community foundations in the country. Panel members hold assets totaling over $100 billion and make grants totaling more than $7 billion annually.

Are Foundation Leaders Using Social Media? can be downloaded at no charge from the Gain Knowledge area of the Foundation Center’s website.