What Are You Communicating?


Kris and James CarvilleLast week in Palm Beach, FL I had the wonderful opportunity to meet with and learn from 25 of the world’s top consultants, culminating in a discussion and dinner with James Carville. He advised us to clearly communicate who we are in order to stand out from the crowd and “break through the clutter.” He asked us to consider five questions:

1. What is your brand?
2. What do you stand for?
3. Are you authentic?
4. Do others say consistent things about you?
5. What can you do better than others?

Coincidentally, I am currently advising a growing family foundation on the development of a communications plan. The questions James asked us as consultants are the same that funders should ask of themselves:

  1. Does our foundation have a clear brand identity?
  2. Do we know what we stand for as a foundation? Do we have clear goals and strategies? Can all of our staff and board easily describe them in a casual conversation?
  3. Are we authentic? Do we “walk our talk”? Would our grantees & funder colleagues describe us in the same ways that we describe ourselves?
  4. Do our key stakeholders say consistent things about our foundation? If we randomly selected some of our grantees and partners, would they similarly describe our brand, our goals?
  5. How does our foundation differentiate itself? What is unique to us?

You might know the answers to all of those questions, or some of them. Regardless, it would be interesting to ask these questions at your next senior management meeting. You will find the discussion illuminating and you might learn it is time to strengthen your communication muscle.

To learn more about foundation communications you can read my article “The Power of Communications Plan: Why You Need One Now and How To Get It Rolling” or listen to a podcast ” Four Strategies for Communications Planning in Grantmaking Initiatives.


© 2014 Kris Putnam-Walkerly. All rights reserved. Permission granted to excerpt or reprint with attribution.

Kris is a sought after philanthropy advisor, expert and award-winning author. She has helped over 90 foundations and philanthropists strategically allocate and assess over half a billion dollars in grants and gifts.

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