Helping foundations meet community info needs

To help community foundations gain digital skills and better meet resident’s information needs, Knight recently announced its support to expand the efforts of the Knight Digital Media Center.

The University of Southern California-based center will offer community foundations virtual and in-person trainings, regional seminars and more.

The announcement came during this year’s Council on Foundation’s fall conference in New Orleans, where the center led a pre-conference session on  digital strategiesIt helped leaders explore opportunities and approaches in the digital age to advance community leadership and network building. More than 40 community foundation leaders attended, including past and present Knight Community Information Challenge winners.

Cara Matteliano from the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo gave a firsthand account of the foundation’s exploration and adoption of digital tools to build a platform for what she called, “community leadership 2.0,” and shared its journey through the systems change that was vital to help people and communities.  Using mobile technology, she surveyed her peers about their own excitement for the digital age, how they support community information and what tools they are currently using to make sure it is disseminated.

Matteliano was joined by Sarah Goo from Pew Research Center, who gave an overview of digital trends and habits in the United States and insights as to how citizens are becoming increasingly connected, mobile and social.

Beth Kanter wrapped up the individual presentations by sharing the network mindset and the opportunity community foundations have to fill structural holes in existing local networks.

Leaders from the Knight Digital Media Center then talked about their own work with community foundations and the tools they have developed to help catapult them into the 21st century.

It was clear from the session that community foundations are eager to use and experiment with digital tools. A majority of people in the room said they were using Facebook and Twitter to help get their messages out to wider audiences and engage in community conversations.  For many in the room, tying social media practice to organizational goals provides an effective way of engaging digitally and demonstrates how it impacts the bottom line.

Knight Digital Media Center’s expertise in the digital arena has  helped community foundations meet the challenges of their role within the community information ecosystem.  We are excited to work with them over the next couple of years as they provide a valuable resource to the field and advance their practices.

By Bahia Ramos Synnott, director/community foundations at Knight Foundation

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