by David Tandet

Philanthropy and public relations have a long history together. When 19th century tycoons were attacked as robber barons, several set up foundations to contribute to good causes — in part to fend off the verbal assaults.

Sometimes the infusion of capital into new works was so great that foundations had to set up their own mechanisms to make sure proper vehicles existed to utilize the funding.

As sophisticated as those foundations have become, however, the current financial crisis is forcing all entities involved in giving to develop a new breed of partnership between private and public funding.

Last August, billionaire George Soros and the Open Society Institute announced a collaboration with New York State to provide help with the purchase of school supplies to children of low income families.

There was an immediate wave of criticism questioning the motives and strategy of longtime political activist Soros.

The new philanthropy and fundraising has created a need for a type of public relations that is more proactive than any that has previously existed. Add to that the fact that Twitter and other digital networks carry words and pictures around the world as soon as events happen. PR is now a 24/7 concern.

If funders want to make sure they can most effectively fill in “the pieces of the puzzle” (how grant writer Jon O’Brien characterizes each foundation’s unique vision of the world) they need the most effective public relations to accompany any major collaborations with public/governmental entities. Otherwise, their giving will get as bogged down in political rhetoric as vitriolic as the negative ads that have become a fixture on the campaign trail.

Ironically, the old PR maxim “Do Good and Tell the World” has become the most practical rule of thumb for those who work in media relations for funders.

Contact Us

Post filed under Foundations of Marketing, Grant Writing, Marketing Communications, Online Social Networking, Reputation, Writing Tips.