« Weekend Link Roundup (January11-12, 2014) | Main | 5 Questions for...Marissa Sackler, Founder and President, Beespace »

The Value Add of Engagement

January 15, 2014

(Jay Ruderman is the president of the Ruderman Family Foundation. You can engage with him on Twitter and/or follow the foundation to learn more about inclusion. A version of this post appears on our sister GrantCraft blog.)

Headshot_Jay-RudermanThere are over 500,000,000 users on Twitter – and I am one of them.

As president of a family foundation, I spend my day managing the foundation's operations and staff, working with partners in the philanthropic and organizational world, and searching for new, innovative projects to invest in. Our foundation advocates for and advances the full inclusion of people with disabilities into the Jewish community. Our focus is on creating lasting change and I work tirelessly in pursuit of creating a fair and flourishing community.

I speak at conferences, conduct interviews with journalists, meet with legislators, and do whatever is necessary to push the issue of inclusion onto the agenda. Like you, I have a very full schedule filled with meetings, phone calls, site visits, and still more meetings.

And then I started tweeting.

Most of my philanthropic friends and foundation colleagues do not use social media, for a variety of reasons. I myself was unsure of how effective Twitter could be in helping to change the status quo. But I embarked on this experiment six months ago to see if I could build community around the issues the foundation advocates for. I understood that it takes time to build an audience and find one's voice online. Change does not happen overnight.

Of utmost importance was having a Twitter strategy in place. I knew in advance whom the influencers I wanted to engage were, how to connect with them, and what type of content to push out. Certainly I had much to learn:  how to engage, how to effectively use the platform, when and how to post, and how to conduct conversations. I have learned through trial and error and the early results are encouraging – there has been a definite increase in the number of conversations I participate in, retweets, and mentions. (Notice I didn't mention number of followers – that's not a metric I'm using to measure success.) Additionally, my tweeting has brought increased exposure for our foundation's official account, and we have seen a marked upswing in traffic to our blog.

So far, so good.

People ask me why I tweet – especially those who think Twitter is where people post about their morning coffee! I see Twitter as an integral tool to furthering our mission. Here's why:

  • Tweeting allows me to see who the players and influencers in this field are. Connecting with them allows us to share experiences and knowledge.
  • Twitter is helping to position our foundation as a thought leader in the inclusion arena.
  • It allows me to advocate for the rights of people with disabilities and raise awareness of the issue.
  • By showcasing the wonderful work being done by our partners and grantees, we advance their individual missions and contribute to "grantmaking beyond the buck."
  • Social media opens my eyes to other projects out there, as well as the latest news and trends, and that gives us a finger on the pulse and assists us in becoming a smarter funder.

Jay Ruderman Tweet

The main reason I tweet, however, is because people like to connect to other people. Putting a face on our foundation's activities helps create a more intimate conversation and brings more people into the fold. As president, I have a unique perspective on the issue that people want to hear, and they connect to my passion and my sense of urgency with respect to creating sustainable change.

Funding innovative projects is not enough – at the Ruderman Family Foundation we want to move the needle. The real value of social media for me is its ability to connect me to people where they ;hang out and are most likely to allow me to engage with them. I want to tap into the energy and passion young people have for social justice isues and encourage them to become involved, advocate, and be at the forefront of change in society. I want to use my newfound connections to urge organizational leaders to make their communities more inclusive.

When I look back in a year or two, I hope to have raised awareness of our issue and to have caused more people in the Jewish community to realize its importance. If I'm successful, the foundation will be that much closer to fulfilling its mission. One tweet at a time.

-- Jay Ruderman

Comments

Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Working...
Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.

Working...

Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

Contributors

Quote of the Week

  • "My favorite Civil War era monuments are the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments...."

    — David Tenenhaus, professor of history and law, University of Nevada Las Vegas

Subscribe to Philantopic

Contributors

Guest Contributors

  • Laura Cronin
  • Derrick Feldmann
  • Thaler Pekar
  • Kathryn Pyle
  • Nick Scott
  • Allison Shirk

Tweets from @PNDBLOG

Follow us »

Other Blogs

Tags