Earlier this year, an innovative new project launched within the Washington Monthly’s website to highlight the good work of foundations across the U.S. Successes of Philanthropy isn’t just a new column from the D.C.-based magazine that traditionally covers politics and government. It’s a stellar example of brand journalism, one that is funded entirely by nine foundations.
The project’s founder and curator Jeff Hamond explained the reason for the effort in a Successes of Philanthropy post:
In America, more so than in other countries, philanthropies play a unique and important role of supporting innovative policy experiments that, when successful, often become the basis of future government actions.
These successful innovations, however, tend to be under-covered by the press, and there has been no single place where citizens and public officials can go to read about them. The Successes of Philanthropy series aims to fill this gap.
Since launch, the site has spotlighted a wide spectrum of work, from seniors aging in place to childhood cancer research to boosting high school graduation rates, all from the perspective of funders or philanthropists.
We caught up with Hamond earlier this year around the Successes of Philanthropy launch. Hamond’s background in government relations, focused on the philanthropy sector, helped form the idea behind the project.
“Should the sector come under attack in tax reform, there really is not any place that a staffer or someone in the field of philanthropy could go online that would collect, in one place, lots of good examples of successes in the field – and I’m talking just about the grantmaker’s perspective here,” explained Hamond.
Successes of Philanthropy gives funders a platform to educate policy makers and the general public about challenges and solutions in the sector. Through engaging content submitted by foundations, it’s helping raise awareness about issues across the U.S.
“The series will highlight the work of certain grantees, but the thing that all the pieces will share is that they are all coming from the perspective of the funder,” added Hamond.
Hamond stressed the stories must be written from the perspective of funders or philanthropists. Stories also should thoughtfully describe the steps and process a foundation utilized to solve a problem and prove results.
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Brand journalism, done well, is not easy, but its impact, given its capacity to reach targeted and often niche audiences directly, can be profound.