Communications Collaborative

After a series of meetings in 2009, grantmakers identified strategic communications as a key area of opportunity for building collaboration around policy and advocacy funding and established a Communications Collaborative (The Collaborative). Based on meetings and conversations with leading communications experts, national partner organizations and state-level grantees, The Collaborative identified building the capacity of state policy and advocacy networks to develop and use effective advocacy messages around the essential role of government as a place to start. Public services, structures and systems are an essential foundation for a healthy economy where opportunity and prosperity are broadly shared. Supporting adequate public resources to meet the needs of families and communities is essential to ensure the best outcomes for the specific issues with which we are concerned. Click here to learn more about the work of The Collaborative to support a healthy public sector.

2016 activities will include:

  • Facilitating periodic calls and a private listserv to provide participating funders with a neutral platform to discuss and exchange information around strategic communications.
  • Supporting national narrative alignment: Continue to support member interest and activities in the alignment and promotion of the use of larger narratives that seek to promote a healthy public sector and economic opportunity for all on the national, state, and local level as an under girding to a variety of human service, education and low-wage worker issues.
  • Making connections among individual grantmakers. As part of the GIST staff “glue” function, we keep abreast of communications areas of interest and giving among collaborative members and make connections among grantmakers pursuing similar objectives or working in similar regions.
  • Coordinating additional activities as determined by the group, such as meetings, research and writing.

Previous activities included:

  • Facilitated periodic calls and a private listserv to provide participating funders with a neutral platform to discuss and exchange information around strategic communications.
  • GIST dedicated its Fall 2015 meeting entirely to the topic of strategic communications. Making Waves: Philanthropy, Communications Investments and Creating Change included interactive discussions on narrative as a tool for social change, public engagement through pop culture and the arts, building communications infrastructure through networks and hubs, the impact of the changing landscape of the media in how we do our work and more. (November 2015) 
  • Co-sponsored a meeting on unifying national narratives, where a small group of practitioners and funders engaged in narrative work joined together to determine the degree of agreement and alignment, as well as any important differences on the shared themes of a commonly shared progressive narrative and explored ideas for strengthening collaboration and changing practice in the field.  This meeting built off the convening on the importance of narrrative as a tool for social change. (May 2014)
  • Co-sponsored a meeting on what polling tells us about the future of fiscal and social safety net issues, where funders joined in a unique day-long conversation with leading pollsters and grantmakers to explore where public opinion and political climate are coming together to create opportunities for action. (September 2013)
  • Co-sponsored a meeting on the what and why of narrative - a powerful tool for social change - where funders gathered for a discussion on the essential elements of narrative, current narratives in practice, and critical issues around narrative, and how funders can advance narrative work. (September 2013)
  • Hosted a webinar on aligning our national narratives during an election year and beyond, to share the basic tenets of larger narratives and communications efforts around government and the economy and to provide funders and state policy and advocacy networks access to the information and tools available to support their work. (October 2012)
  • Hosted a webinar on why a strong public sector is important to philanthropy, examining why philanthropy should care about a healthy public sector, the current research on effective messaging on the essential role of government and how it connects to a broad array of issues areas, with specific examples of effective messaging from the field. (June 2012)
  • Hosted five communications learning exchange calls covering EITC, TABOR, Medicaid, the use of video and coming together around a national narrative. Calls featured state grantees, national communications firms and intermediaries who shared information on successful (and less successful) communications efforts and discussed opportunities and challenges that lie ahead. Participation on the calls ranged from 15 to 100 and included funder colleagues as well as national partner organizations and state-level grantees. (May 2011-January 2012)
  • Drafted an initial set of talking points for grantmakers to use internally to garner support from their colleagues and leadership in forwarding key messages and frames regarding the role of government.

Grantmakers and philanthropic advisors interested in learning more about The Collaborative and how they can get involved should contact Ami Nagle or Cema Siegel.