Foundation CEOs Testing Social Media Waters, Survey Finds

According to a new report from the Foundation Center, about one-third of foundation executives regularly use Facebook or read blogs, while only 6 percent use Twitter.

Based on survey responses from seventy-three foundation executives, the report, Are Foundation Leaders Using Social Media? (4 pages, PDF), found that more established forms of online communications — e-newsletters and Listservs — are used by foundation executives at a much higher rate (65 percent and 45 percent, respectively) than social media tools. It also found that the most-read blog by far among foundation executives is the Huffington Post, with 53 percent of those surveyed saying they have read it at least once in the past six months. The survey also found that nearly three-quarters of respondents believe social networking services have been at least somewhat useful in furthering the work of philanthropy in general, while only half said social media has helped further their own foundation's work.

Based on responses from the center's Grantmaker Leadership Panel, comprised of nearly two hundred and thirty chief executives at leading U.S. private and public foundations, 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 tools in philanthropic work, and the social media activity of two "power users" in the field.

"It's clear from the survey that usage of social media is catching on in the foundation world," said Lawrence T. McGill, vice president for research at the Foundation Center, "but it is far from being part of the regular routine of most chief executives."

"Charitable Foundation Execs Testing Social Media Waters, Survey Finds." Foundation Center Press Release 09/16/2010.