Becoming a Web 2.0 Philanthropy at Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) has sponsored a series of webinars hosted by the Council on Foundations, discussing organizational effectiveness in philanthropy.

The first webinar, entitled “Improving Effectiveness in an Age of Uncertainty: Lessons Learned from Grantee Budget Reductions and Business Model Changes,” was held Tuesday, January 17. This webinar featured presentations from Debra Joy Pérez, assistant vice president of research and evaluation at RWJF, and Heidi Williamson, interim vice president of grantmaking at the Berks County Community Foundation (BCCF).

Pérez shared RWJF’s experience with grantee budget reductions, lessons learned from a process evaluation conducted after the economic downturn, and suggestions to improve performance and respond effectively in the event of future challenges. Williamson discussed the changes BCCF made and the challenges it overcame to identify and implement an updated business model.

The second webinar, entitled “Improving Internal Practices in Philanthropy: Case Studies on Effective Performance Appraisals and Streamlining the Grantmaking Process,” was held Tuesday, February 21. This webinar featured presentations by Jeffrey Malloy, director of finance and administration at the Irvine Foundation and E. Thomas Brewer, director of programs at the Archstone Foundation.

Malloy discussed how the Irvine Foundation reviewed its 10-year old paper intensive grant process and developed a more streamlined, technology-driven approach to simplify the process, while providing more readily-available information to its program staff and key executives. Brewer reviewed the Archstone Foundation’s assessment of appraisal effectiveness and presented a model to address the needs of a multi-generational workforce that values employees and offers incentives to increase motivation, productivity, and employee satisfaction.

The third webinar, entitled “Becoming a Web 2.0 Philanthropy,” was held Thursday, May 17. This webinar featured presentations Steve Downs, chief technology and information officer at RWJF and Claire Gibbons, a senior program officer at RWJF.

Downs discussed the path RWJF has adopted to become a Web 2.0 philanthropy and the effects this has on foundation employees, grantees, and programming. Gibbons focused on the challenges and opportunities for measuring the impact of social media tools starting with how expectations can be captured in a logic model. She also discussed developing indicators that incorporate Web 2.0 into RWJF’s work, and achieve greater impact using social media.

HOLD THE DATE: "Exiting Responsibly: Best Donor Practices in Ending Field Support,” the fourth webinar in this series hosted by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Council on Foundations, will be held on August 16 from 2:00-3:30 p.m. EDT. Join Janice Petrovich, EdD, a private consultant to foundations and nonprofits in the areas of research, evaluation and program development, who will discuss effective practices to promote the sustainability of fields as donors exit. Exiting a field responsibly is essential to achieving the compelling and far-reaching goals that foundations set out for themselves.