Ani Hurwitz, The New York Community Trust
The tools in this report are quite valuable. My main critique of the content of the report is my belief that limited reach to grantees is not crucial. Grantees know how to find a foundation and its website. Using an annual report to communicate priorities to them seems to be a waste of resources.
I think that annual reports can be targeted if the foundation has a small number of program areas—especially if those areas are linked. They can be “targeted purposeful communications,” as are websites that have excellent navigation.
When people are invested in an issue, they still read. And if foundations want to save the environment (and money), there are many other things to cut that will yield better results than eliminating annual reports.
The blanket statement that the vast majority of “engaged citizens” don’t value annual reports is a stretch. They aren’t really sent to the vast majority of engaged citizens. If we’ve learned anything from placing ads in multiple media outlets, it is that people don’t remember where they read or heard about something.
But the takeaway from the research—it would best to move the information contained in annual reports to the web—begs the question: how do you get engaged citizens and decision-makers to the website? Will social media reach the targeted audience to get them there? Even if you make more targeted “publications” and present them in engaging formats online, the same challenge of drawing the audience to the site remains.