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"How to Make the Most of Social Media"

Posted By Buffy Beaudoin-Schwartz, Wednesday, November 16, 2011

By Buffy Beaudoin-Schwartz, Communications Director, Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers

One of my jobs at the Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers is to help raise the public’s awareness of the role philanthropy plays – especially the work of our member foundations and corporate giving programs – to improve the quality of life in our region. 

As The Resource on Grantmaking, we provide critical information and services to the philanthropic and nonprofit communities. As The Network for Givers in our region, we convene grantmakers and others to address issues and create lasting solutions. And, as The Voice for Philanthropy, we represent the philanthropic sector to key audiences, including the media, legislators, and national organizations, raising public awareness and understanding about the role and impact of philanthropy on our society.

In order to enhance our ability to be the resource, network and voice of and for our members, we have been utilizing social media for four specific reasons:

· Communicate: As an additional avenue to communicate with our members.

· Disseminate: To "Tell the Story of Philanthropy” by highlighting the importance of charitable giving and how donating to one’s community can bring about real change - which is the work of our member institutions.

· Concentrate: To "listen” to what others are saying about issues we care about, and to utilize these opportunities to gather knowledge, information and resources.

· Participate: And, to be a part of, and help to shape the conversation about philanthropy that is taking place all day, every day, through social media.

In recent years, we’ve turned more and more to social media – notably Facebook and Twitter — to help us:

  • Tell the story of what philanthropy is accomplishing in our region and across the country.
  • Listen to what people are saying about issues we care about, and use this information to respond accordingly.
  • Participate in an ongoing conversation with others who are also blogging, Tweeting and sharing about philanthropy via social media.
Based on our experiences and what we’ve learned over the past several years, here are some recommendations we’ve developed for making the most of social media and that might be useful for our member organizations too:
  • Start with a rationale for the use of social media, and make sure it is consistent with your overall communication strategy.

In order to enhance our ability to be the resource, network and voice of and for our funder members, we use social media, and in particular Facebook and Twitter for four specific reasons: To Communicate, Disseminate, Concentrate and Participate.

  • Develop a social media policy for your organization.

Organizations that use social media as part of an overall communication strategy to achieve set goals should have a policy in place in order to have a consistent presence and to inform, guide and empower staff. Our policy is relatively simple, is a living document, and touches on our organizational goals, values, key audiences, staff roles, specific platforms, appropriate content,monitoring and evaluation goals, and personal/professional responsibility.

  • Map your social media distribution and participation opportunities in advance as much as you can– identify based on seasons, holidays, programs, events, trends, hot topics.

For example, we plan in advance to highlight the good work of our members through social media every two weeks when our "Adventures in Philanthropy” column in theMaryland Daily Recordis published; or at the end of the year during the holidays we plan for the opportunity to highlight the employee giving programs of our member corporations.

  • Be clear about who you "friend” and "follow” and why in order to obtain the best and most relevant ongoing information.

We are bombarded with information 24/7 and find it helpful to connect with individuals and organizations that are most relevant to our work – that we wish to reach with information, and that provide us with information to inform our work – for example, our members, partners, other foundations, policymakers and local, regional and national media.

  • Find your organization’s unique and professional yet casual voice – it’s a new and different medium to engage in and with.

Our social media voice mimics our overall voice in all our communications, which is pretty straightforward, but there is a more casual, energetic and cheerful tone that we use in Facebook and Twitter that we hope encourages more dialogue and engagement than our traditional "voice” might.

  • Practice good social media etiquette – participate, reach out, comment, follow, friend and thank your core constituencies on an ongoing basis.

We like to give a "shout” about the good work of our members and partners on an ongoing basis, thank those who RT or MT our Tweets, and answer those who engage with us via Facebook in a timely manner because we believe it’s the right thing to do, but also because it promotes a good working social media relationship and connection with those we are trying to reach and engage.

  • Recognize that a sound social media plan requires an organizational commitment.

We built our social media plan as part of our overall communications plan – designed not to replace our traditional communication efforts, but to enhance them. As ABAG’s Communications Director I manage our social media on a daily basis. An important part of our organizational commitment has been to engage our staff regularly regarding ideas and opportunities to incorporate their work into our social media, and to keep our board and members informed and engaged in our ongoing efforts. There is a time commitment throughout the day but I feel that it has significantly enhanced my ability to obtain and distribute information and has had a positive impact on overall communications.

  • Evaluate! Social media efforts should be monitored as part of your overall communications efforts.

We evaluate all our communications on a quarterly basis, including our Facebook and Twitter efforts. We are primarily looking right now at the basics – # of followers and fans, # of RTs, MTs, views, mentions, likes and comments, andwhat is of most interest to those who are connecting with us. In 2012 we plan to continue efforts to evaluate and understand the impact of our social media and how it relates to our overall goals.

  • Be thoughtful, strategic, fluid and flexible – have fun with it!

We are still learning daily about how to make the most of social media, but plan to continue our thoughtful approach while allowing for some experimentation and flexibility as we understand the opportunities and hone our skills in using social media to tell the story of the good work of philanthropy, listen, learn, and participate in the ongoing conversation every day.

That’s our list of "To Do’s.”What’s on yours?

Buffy Beaudoin-Schwartz can be reached

Tags:  Eye on Philanthropy  facebook  November 2011 Members' Memo  social media  twitter 

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October 2011: ABAG Member News

Posted By Kim Snipes, Thursday, October 20, 2011

Marci Hunn, The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation and Regina Salliey, The Annie E. Casey Foundation are two of The Daily Record's 2011 Leading Women.  

Annie E. Casey Foundation CEO Patrick McCarthy was named to the board of the Foundation Center.

Monique L. Dixon, deputy director - OSI-Baltimore/director - criminal and juvenile justice program, received the 2011 Benjamin L Cardin Public Service Award from the University of Maryland Carey School of Law. The Benjamin L. Cardin Public Service Award is presented to an alumnus/a who has demonstrated significant and substantial contributions to furthering ideals of public service in the law.   

Ralph R. Smith, executive vice president of the Annie E. Casey Foundation, was recently honored by Grantmakers for Children, Youth and Families with the 2011 Fred Rogers Leadership Award in Philanthropy for Children, Youth and Families. 


Brooke Hisle recently joined the The Zanvyl and Isabelle Krieger Fund and The Fund for Change as executive cooridinator for Karen Kreisberg. 

Sade Smith recently joined the Annie E. Casey Foundation as the program assistant for the Baltimore Civic Site team. 

John Lingenfelter has joined the Harry and Jeannette Weinberg Foundation as vice president of finance. 

Tags:  ABAG Member News  ABAG members  October 2011 Members' Memo 

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Recent Reports from the Field

Posted By Elisabeth Hyleck, Thursday, October 20, 2011
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New! Information on Attending ABAG Programs

Posted By Adam Donaldson, Thursday, October 20, 2011

October 2011

Dear ABAG Members,

We want to make sure you have easy access to our offices and excellent education programs (98 programs in 2011) and have some new information to share.

ABAG Office

On your next visit to us at 2 E. Read Street, ALL ABAG MEMBERS will be asked to sign in at the lobby desk to the right of the elevators, which is staffed by Aaron and Keith. This is a building policy and applies to all guests, regardless of their frequency in the building. 

To assist you, ABAG will provide building staff with a participant list of all programs and committee meetings. You can then be quickly checked-in by Aaron or Keith, rather than having to sign. This provides strong incentive for registering your attendance in advance with ABAG!, either through our website or by calling Frances Morris or other staff at 410-727-1205.


Parking is availableon St. Paul, Read, and Charles Streets, using electronic meters that accept coin or credit ($2/hour; 2 hour limit). There is a secure loton the SE corner of Charles and Read Street, diagonal to our building (variable rates). An increasingly popular choice for longer meetings, there is an additional unmonitored lot,hiding between Charles and Cathedral street ($7 all day). Access the lot by alley on the left just past Read Street and the landmark,former Brass Elephant Restaurant when traveling North on Charles Street. Warning, the alley and lot surface are marked by potholes, but you may find it the best value.

Inclement Weather Policy

Hopefully, we are really jumping the gun but I will take the opportunity to remind you of our inclement weather policy. In the event of inclement weather on the day of an Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers' meeting or member program, the following policies will take effect:

  • ABAG morning committee meetings or activities will be cancelled if Baltimore City Public Schools are closed for the day. Some committee meetings may be held via conference call regardless of school closings. The meeting coordinator will provide call-in information in advance and communicate directly with committee members about contingency plans.
  • For ABAG programs and meetings held at noon or later, cancellations will be announced on the ABAG webpage by 9:00 am on the event day.

Calling In to an ABAG Program

Although we always prefer to see you in person, it is possible to overcome time and space barriers by calling-in to any ABAG event occurring in our conference room. Please contact me directly at or 410-727-1205 to request the conference phone option. In most cases, I will reply with a direct dial number 410-727-7177. When there are multiple requests we establish a toll-free conference line.

Thank you in advance for working with the building policy; it will take time for all of us to adopt this habit! Please contact Adam Donaldson, ABAG Member Services Director if you have any questions and look forward to future announcements about our 2012 programs.

We look forward to seeing you soon!

The ABAG Staff

Tags:  October 2011 Members' Memo 

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"We Are in the Information Business"

Posted By Ann Billingsley, Thursday, October 20, 2011

October 2011

By Ann Billingsley, Executive Director, Hoffberger Family Philanthropies

A wise colleague of mine once said that those of us who work in philanthropy are in the information business. An unexpected comment that was right on the mark. While this is not the only "business” we are in, it is certainly a core piece of our work. 

Whatever our deep commitments may be to doing good or making change or any other philanthropic impulse, we pursue our objectives by acquiring information, and we do that in part through the connections we make with colleagues on both sides of the grant table.

With this preface, perhaps you can understand my state of semi-paralysis when I arrived in Baltimore a year ago, with limited knowledge about the local community and no relationships. I had been the recipient of good fortune from the ever-generous Hoffberger family, who invited me to help them reach their philanthropic goals. What a wonderful opportunity to work with great people, in a richly historic and complex town. But, I needed a cheat sheet fast - not only did I not know Baltimore, I didn’t know what I didn’t know!

On my first day in the office, I received an email invitation from Betsy Nelson to meet and learn about the local donor community. Her fingers had barely lifted off the computer keys before I responded with an eager acceptance. Notices about meetings quickly followed, and I immediately became an ABAG groupie. Now, a week without an ABAG meeting feels dull and barren indeed.

Betsy’s generosity in proactively bringing me into the fold has been echoed by all of her staff and other ABAG members (who graciously have not held it against me that I am a transplant to this neck of the woods). At every meeting I attend I learn from my peers and benefit from the conversation with guest speakers. 

ABAG staff have not only encouraged my attendance at various meetings, but have also cheerfully provided information I have requested on a broad range of subjects, from research on philanthropic topics to a list of the best purveyors of chocolate. ABAG has been a living, breathing Cliff’s Notes for this student of the city.

So, 13 months into my tenure in Baltimore, I can confidently say that I now know what I don’t know. But I have found an information loop, and I have begun to build the relationships that are a key part to understanding the fabric of Baltimore. 

Thank you ABAG.

Ann can be reached at:

Tags:  A Word from Our Members  And Now  October 2011 Members' Memo 

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Incentives for Charitable Giving

Posted By Adam Donaldson, Thursday, October 20, 2011

October 2011

By Adam Donaldson

On October 18, 2011, the United States Senate Committee on Finance held a hearing on Incentives for Charitable Giving. Witness testimony focused on the charitable deduction program for tax payers who itemize because several recent legislative proposals have aimed to cap this giving incentive.

And ABAG was watching.

As the voice of philanthropy, engaging in critical dialogue with local, state and national government officials who shape public policy, ABAG monitors news and legislation on the charitable deduction and other policies that promote philanthropy and build stronger communities.

Why is this important for ABAG members?

We believe tax incentives for charitable giving are critical at a time when nonprofit organizations struggle to meet increased demand for their services resulting from the economic downturn, and ABAG has urged Congress to support charitable giving by opposing current proposals to cap the charitable deduction for federal taxpayers. This view was expressed in Betsy’s weekly "Adventures in Philanthropy” column in the Daily Record.

I am excited to announce that the Board of Directors recently approved new protocols for when ABAG will make public statements and engage in public policy strategies on behalf of members, as recommended by the Public Policy Task Force, chaired by Mary Louise Preis. The protocols set criteria and a process that includes the leadership of staff and the Executive Committee. 

We appreciate that members are independent entities who may act on their own or hold a variety of opinions regarding policy issues, but affirm ABAG’s critical role in representing your interests.

To learn more about ABAG’s public policy work, I invite you to our new menu of website pages:

· ABAG’s Public Policy Role

· Public Policy Updates

· Grantmaker Resources

· PolicyWorks

In particular, ABAG will use the Public Policy Updates page to share timely information about policies we are tracking. I hope you will contact me with any questions related to ABAG’s public policy work or the issues of the day.

At present, Congress is not moving forward with changes to the charitable deduction program, but it remains a hot topic, and when appropriate ABAG will update members on this and other important policies related to philanthropy.

Tags:  Eye on Philanthropy  October 2011 Members' Memo  Public Policy 

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September 2011: ABAG Member News

Posted By Kim Snipes, Friday, September 16, 2011
The  September 2011 issue of the Urbanite featured an article on the Urbanite Project 2011 and the Open City Challenge, an ideas competition that asked people to turn the construction of the cross-town Red Line train tracks into a positive experience for the city. The jury, pictured below, included Scot Spencer of the Annie E. Casey Foundation. >>

Photo: Urbanite 

Congratulations to Monique Dixon of the Open Society Institute-Baltimore who was the recipient of the Benjamin L. Cardin Public Service Award. About the award: The Benjamin L. Cardin Public Service Award is presented to an alumnus/a who has demonstrated significant and substantial contributions to furthering ideals of public service in the law.

Danista Hunte of the Baltimore Community Foundation was promoted to Vice President, Community Investment in July. In this role, she will oversee all of BCF’s grants, special initiatives, and advocacy. Click here to read the press release from BCF.  

Tags:  ABAG Member News  September 2011 Members' Memo 

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Supporting Public Schools of Choice

Posted By Carol Beck, Wednesday, September 14, 2011

September 2011

By Carol Beck, Executive Director

Baltimore City Public Schools were back in session last month, and across the city, students got ready for a new year at their neighborhood school, charter school, or specialized high school or transformation school.

Their school might be brand new or have 172 years of tradition. Their learning experience might include lots of projects, a focus on science and math, student leadership, the arts or language immersion.

These options are signs of health, growth and increased family choices within the Baltimore City Schools System. Whatever the type of school, its grades or its curricular focus, all Baltimore public schools share their accountability as part of one Baltimore City Public School System.

There is great depth and breadth to the growth of choices within the school system. It has made school choice an option for all middle and high school students while also investing in creating new options such as the REACH! Partnership School.

Choice comes with its own challenges. It can be hard to keep up with the changes and know how to get all the information you need about your choices within the city school system. But recent experience indicates improvements in educating students and families about their options.

This year almost 99 percent of students entering middle and high school chose the school they wished to attend, compared to 88 percent five years ago. Being able to select middle or high school or a charter school is the ultimate parent engagement strategy.

Funders, community leaders, institutions and individuals have stepped up to make school choice a reality for Baltimore's kids. Local foundations provide crucial startup funds for new schools.

Several foundations also created Supporting Public Schools of Choice (SPSOC), the project that I direct to support charter, transformation, and other contract schools operated by the Baltimore City Public School, System that is hosted here at ABAG.

The Living Classrooms Foundation, Civic Works, Coppin State University, and most recently Maryland Institute College of Art are all operating partners of public schools.

And, The Goldseker Foundation is creatively supporting partnerships between neighborhood groups and local schools. One of these neighborhood collectives features a traditional, a charter and a parochial school.

As the city school system works to provide support for all schools so that progress is made for all students, funders and community partners have never had so many opportunities to make a difference. When asked how people can get involved with SPSOC or the effort, I tell them to:

  • Visit our website at: and contact me to learn more –
  • Join a board of a charter school or the school and community council of a traditional school.
  • Help marketing efforts that will make school choices in Baltimore more robust.
  • Provide financial support for city-wide efforts to educate parents, guardians and community-based service organizations about how to select a school and how to get involved.

Follow SPSOC on Twitter: @SPSOC for updates on schools of choice and education in Baltimore.

Tags:  Eye on Philanthropy  September 2011 Members' Memo 

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Meet ABAG's Staff!

Posted By Buffy Beaudoin-Schwartz, Tuesday, September 13, 2011
September 2011 


KURT SOMMER, Director, Baltimore Integration Partnership

Kurt is the director of the Baltimore Integration Partnership – a Living Cities funded initiative working to unify job opportunities with neighborhood revitalization. Using capital resources administered through The Reinvestment Fund, the BIP is working to seed and support capital projects in targeted Baltimore City neighborhoods in East, Central and West Baltimore. The BIP is also working to connect residents from the area's to community based workforce pipelines that ultimately would work to connect to job opportunities made possible through the projects the BIP finances as well as through anchor institutions.

Kurt became Director of the BIP after serving as Special Assistant to the Secretary and Legislative Director of the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development. He also held policy and research positions the Baltimore City Department of Housing and Community Development and the Brookings Institution. Kurt enjoys the central of focus of the BIP's work on his home town.

You can typically find Kurt on the weekends chowing down on some good local BBQ, working on his house, or chasing down his two year old daughter Sophia. Kurt was one of the first Raven's fans and remains an optimistic and faithful Oriole fan as well.

You can reach Kurt at:

Kurt Sommer
Director, Baltimore Integration Partnership


Tags:  Meet ABAG's Staff  September 2011 Members' Memo 

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ABAG Affinity Group News - Financial Literacy and Asset Building

Posted By Elisabeth Hyleck, Tuesday, September 13, 2011
September 2011


Financial Literacy and Asset Building Group

ABAG members active in Financial Literacy and Asset Building set a course of action early in the year and are steadily moving their agenda forward.

They have been learning together at educational programs including Economic Security for Low-Income Seniors: Creating a Comprehensive Service Coordination System; the webinar: Moving from Financial Education to Financial Capability: Innovations for the Field and Funders; and a briefing on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Maryland Legislative Session, to name a few.

Several funders, namely, the Woodside Foundation, the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, Baltimore Branch and the Baltimore Neighborhood Collaborative held a "Credit as an Asset” training for 40 housing counselors. This training, taught by the Credit Builders Alliance, aimed to increase the capacity of counselors thus strengthening the field. A second training for Maryland CASH Campaign members will be held at the end of this month.

We are planning a not-to-be-missed briefing and discussion about Creating Baltimore's Financial Stability Pathway on November 3rd from 12:00 until 1:30 PM.

All who are interested in financial literacy and asset building should plan to attend to hear about this new project to create a network of organizations in Baltimore that are working to help people become more financially stable. This major grant-funded project, led by the Maryland CASH Campaign, grew from discussions about, a tool to which ABAG members were introduced in April 2010.

This expansion project builds out the online tool for local providers and incorporates field training, and a rigorous research and evaluation agenda. For more information and to register, click here.

In other news, Irene Skricki left the Annie E. Casey Foundation in late July to take a position at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. She is in the financial education unit, designing pilots and policies to help consumers make more informed financial decisions. We wish her all the best and hope to hear from her in the future about the work of the CFPB.


Contact Elisabeth Hyleck at: or Meg Woodside at

Tags:  ABAG Affinity Group News  September 2011 Members' Memo 

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