Philanthropy is supporting incredible work for the greater good. But in the ways we talk about that work, we could do better. Even as we evolve to meet the compounding challenges that society faces, trust in institutions, generally, is falling.

As we work to respond to legitimate concerns, philanthropy must build its capacity to elevate the positive impact of its work, push back against misconceptions, and build trust.

To support this work, the Council on Foundations and the Center for Public Interest Communications performed a landscape scan of the dominant narratives on philanthropy in the United States. In short, the research showed that philanthropy needs better stories and better language if we want to be better partners to our communities.

A New Voice for Philanthropy

Telling better stories with better language is more than a public relations exercise. It is a comprehensive, data- and research-driven approach that will engage the field, the public, and experts in communications, academia, and public opinion research.

Among other things, this initiative will explore:

  • How both positive narratives and misinformation are shaping Americans’ view of philanthropy
  • The best kinds of stories for lifting up philanthropy’s impact
  • New tools and practices that best deliver new messages
  • How different audience demographics, ideologies, and experiences affect how people receive stories about philanthropy
  • The way transparent, clear, and accurate language affects how Americans perceive foundations
  • How philanthropy can unite behind a narrative that connects what we do with whom we serve

Our ask

We know that some of you are already doing this work well, or you may know foundations or individuals that are telling great stories. Please email us with ideas, tips, or examples.


Connect with Council Staff

Jason Ludwig

Manager, Communications and Content

Nicole Bronzan

Vice President, Communications and Content

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