Traditionally, communications departments of philanthropies try to inform the public about the foundation and its work through press releases, annual reports and dissemination of findings from grantees' work. In recent years, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has also taken a somewhat different and parallel approach—using communications itself as a strategy for attacking some of the nation's health problems. Just as some grants use demonstration or research projects to advance a goal of the Foundation, the grants discussed in this chapter use communications as a strategy.
As the chapter makes clear, the Foundation has experimented with a broad range of media approaches. Some represent core funding to encourage better and more extensive reporting of health news, whereas others support a television or radio production aimed at a specific health issue. There have been successes and failures, and, as is typical, not everyone scores successes and failures in the same way.
The communications office at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and its grantees have received numerous awards in honor of its efforts in the emerging field of philanthropic communications.