María Cano, communications and marketing of the Spanish Association of Foundations, highlights the importance and keys of communication in the foundational sector. The foundations and, in general, the entities of the third sector are agents of change and transformation. For a long time, they have mistakenly been perceived as unprofessional entities that practiced charity without great pretense or demands in their impact, management and obligations.
During the last few years and protected by the constitutional right to found, more than 8,000 foundations have grown extraordinarily in volume, professionalization, good governance and influence in the development of our society. They currently employ 256,000 people, invest more than 8,000 million euros annually in projects of general interest, generate 0.8% of GDP and serve more than 35 million people. Their diversity and agility allows them to reach all kinds of situations and groups, so that we can say “where there is a need there is a foundation.”
The keys to good communication are based on these three aspects:
- To Inform
- To Connect
- To Invole
Each one of them is fundamental and complementary. We cannot improve the perception of the sector without informing. Today, there is still a high percentage of the population that is unaware of our abilities to make their situations better. Our mission is to reach out to citizens in their needs, shortcomings and problems. But how are we going to help them if they don’t know us. We must be informative, there is no other way. On the other hand, information generates transparency that is the greatest, most demanding and critical requirement to the sector. For a long time we have confused humility with opacity, gratuitousness with responsibility, which has generated great currents of distrust. This excess of informative zeal has brought very negative consequences to the sector.
It is necessary to connect with the emotions of citizens to create opinion and joint action. We are not simple service entities, oblivious to people’s sensitivities, motivations and concerns.
The foundational sector is full of stories that are worth telling, real stories of people who generously contribute their work, their talent and their time where they are most needed. There are few things in life that connect us as human beings more than stories. And if we can connect, they will embrace our foundation’s own values and objectives. And most importantly, the trust that validates our existence will develop.
Finally, if we manage to inform and connect, it will be easy to reach the third milestone, to involve. With involvement we move forward, grow and inspire society to collaborate in our projects. Together we are more and we are when we are able to involve and create a community. Today, the groups of interest, the so-called stakeholders, not only want to know where their donations contributions are going, now they want to participate. They want to be a part of the cause and that’s why you have to know how to connect.
In this context, digital transformation offers us a thousand different possibilities to communicate effectively. The Internet is the speaker of what we are and what we do. Social networks are great conversation platforms that allow us to connect with users’ emotions and provoke responses.
Pero además, somos grandes expertos de lo que acontece. Nuestro conocimiento y experiencia en los diversos ámbitos del sector, tantos como situaciones, tiene un gran valor en el análisis de la actualidad y en su transformación.
But in addition, we are great experts in what is happenning. Our knowledge and experience in the various fields of the sector, as many as the situations which they serve, has great value in the analysis of current affairs and its transformation.
With good communication we build trust, inspire, sensitize, connect, transmit, involve and transform. That is the challenge and the way.
María Cano, communication and marketing of the Spanish Association of Foundations