Rapid changes in technology and new approaches in how we share information encourage all institutions to consider how they might be more effective in communicating with their constituents, and so it is with us at the Irvine Foundation. In recent years, we have invested significantly in our website as the primary tool for communication, reducing our reliance on printed reports, aiming to write about our work in more easily digestible lengths and formats, and introducing the use of video and other features that animate the work we are privileged to support.
We now continue this evolution in early 2012 with the introduction of a new section of Irvine’s website, News & Insights, which offers a more interactive, user-friendly place to feature a variety of perspectives from inside the foundation, bring in some outside voices from time to time, and perhaps most importantly, encourage and facilitate more of a two-way dialogue with you, our audience.
The News & Insights section will serve as a central, blog-style news hub for Irvine staff to provide news, updates and reflections about our work. As we did in the old news sections of our site, including the Irvine Quarterly newsletter, we will use News & Insights to share thoughts about what we’re learning and to highlight the inspiring work of our grantees and partners. But we think our new approach will have a number of other important benefits, including the following:
User Friendly — The News & Insights section will be more user friendly because it consolidates all of our news in one location, whereas before this content was organized in different parts of the website. And because it is a blog format, visitors will be able to search and curate the news as they want – by category, tags or contributor. This format is more consistent with how web users have become accustomed to receiving content.
More Dialogue – The web has evolved rapidly, along with social media, as a place for community. Although we have been active on various social media platforms for a while, and I have personally been active on Twitter (@jcanales) for a year now, the News & Insights section represents an effort to take better advantage of this interactive aspect of the web to increase dialogue with and learn from our stakeholders. Every post in our News & Insights section will allow readers to comment or to share it with others through social media. And we will be posting content with an eye toward fostering conversation.
More Voices — In the past, we’ve used the website to speak with a single, institutional voice, and I have often served as the only human face of the foundation. Our new section allows us to open up communication to other voices at Irvine, so you will hear from a wide variety of my colleagues in the months ahead. We also plan to invite partners and colleagues outside of Irvine to offer their perspectives on issues of importance to California and/or philanthropy.
In conjunction with these changes, regular subscribers and users will notice that we have discontinued our newsletter, Irvine Quarterly. We will continue to provide the same kind of content —such as stories about grantees or Q&As with our staff, and more – just via the News & Insights section and in a more timely manner. Moreover, users will be able to receive these updates through regular News & Insights e-mails, as well as through our social media feeds. Finally, I will continue to write periodic updates, highlighting issues that I believe are important for Irvine and for the philanthropic sector. But I look forward to sharing this platform with my colleagues at the foundation.
As a private foundation committed to the values of transparency and accountability, our website has been an invaluable tool over the years. We have used it to make available a lot of information about Irvine and its work, but much of the emphasis has been on one-way transmission of information. That will now change with the introduction of News & Insights, where we seek to create a more interactive, engaging and open approach. This will extend our commitment to transparency and, perhaps more importantly, invite all of you to be in dialogue with us, so we can listen and learn.
As we make this shift, I’m also aware that this will be a work-in-progress with plenty of room for improvement. Over the weeks and months to come, we will be learning a great deal about how to use these new tools effectively, and in that spirit, we will value your thoughts and ideas about how we could do it better.