Six Ways Foundations Could Be Better Supporting Their Grantees in Their Digital Advocacy

Provide personalized, interactive training: Professional development is often at the very bottom of any busy grantee’s priority list, especially for overworked nonprofit employees with limited resources. It can be hard to make a real lasting impact. Large scale cookie-cutter trainings leave students uninspired and disconnected while in-person single-day sessions often only make a brief impact that fades quickly. We have found that successful training platforms mix customizable, flexible learn-as-you-go platforms with the personal touch of a dedicated trainer pushing students forward.

Centralize creative resources: As a grantmaker supporting many different grantees in the same field, you have an opportunity to build a digital home-base that will make creating quality content easier and faster for your grantees. Build out a resource center where grantees can access high quality digital posts from the field, issue-specific photos and graphic collateral, as well as key messaging and data. Success on digital means equipping advocates and their partners with the building blocks they need to make participation easy.

Build a community of learning: While each campaign and each country is unique, there is much that your grantees can learn from each other. Something that succeeded in Brasilia can spark a winning idea in Beijing despite their vastly different local contexts. Your role as the grantmaker is that you can provide the space for an exchange of ideas. It can also be extremely valuable to bring leading advocates from different campaigns together in one place to learn from each other. Even when that’s not physically possible, we’ve found success in using chat tools like Slack to drive conversation and shared resources between grantees with similar challenges and successes.

Provide framework for strategic guidance: While each campaign certainly deserves its own strategic plan, you can make a large-scale impact by developing strategic frameworks for grantees to use to ground their digital plan in sound strategy in line with their overall goals. It can also be helpful to build out systematic capacity assessment rubrics to identify which grantees to invest in to build their digital capacity.

Provide incentive to invest in advertising. The reality of today’s social media landscape is that it is pay to play and it’s only becoming more expensive. Foundations can provide monetary and strategic support to grantees so that they can run advertising campaigns at a scale commensurable with enacting real policy change.

Provide data analysis and insights. A key part of building digital capacity is teaching grantees how to measure success and set benchmarks for progress. You can invest in analytics tools that your grantees cannot, however, which can allow you to go deeper in providing feedback and analysis to your grantees.