Giving InSight: A Year of Blogging

September 16, 2013

Lauren Linville, HEFN's Communications Associate, authored this blog post.

One year. 48 posts. Nearly 6,000 page views. Judging by those numbers alone, HEFN’s first year of blogging could be considered a success. Yet, as a staff, we’ve found that our proudest achievements over the past year have been more qualitative than quantitative.

A year ago we launched a weekly blog with three overarching objectives. We wanted to share our members’ perspectives and our own views about funding at the intersections of health and the environment. We hoped to reach a broader audience, especially grantmakers, with engaging updates about environmental health and justice work. We aimed to spark conversations across issues and funder groups.

A year later, HEFN staffers are reflecting on our first year of blogging. On what we aimed to do with Giving InSight and what we actually did. By and large, the blog has met our initial goals.

Our members are using Giving InSight as a platform to highlight what they’re supporting or to share new ideas. Carolyn Fine Friedman, for instance, posted about connections she sees between environmental health issues and the role of money in politics. Lauren Davis blogged about links between her grantmaking on human rights in the DRC and on fracking in the United States.

A personal favorite of mine was Ruth Hennig’s eloquent exploration of philanthropy’s struggles to attract and retain interest in environmental health. Her playful, yet fitting comparisons of the field’s challenges to Lilliputians and yardsticks helped illustrate a complex problem facing philanthropy and suggested a solution to boot!

Having the blog has enabled us to share relevant developments beyond HEFN’s borders. We featured updates from our affinity group partners, interviewing newly-installed Grantmakers in Health (GIH) President Faith Mitchell and inviting a post from the Environmental Grantmakers Association about its grants tracking. HEFN staff shared highlights from events of the Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems Funders, Funders Committee for Civic Participation, the Climate and Energy Funders Group, and GIH.

Karla points to a post we did with 5 funder groups cosponsoring an upcoming San Joaquin Valley Funder Tour: “Communities face many challenges. This post is a great illustration of how these challenges cut across funder groups and how affinity groups can collaborate to help funders learn and respond.“

As the real world changed, we’ve used the blog to highlight emerging issues, from posts on environmental health impacts from Hurricane Sandy to policy updates on the Toxic Substances Control Act. Ramtin Arablouei called out Kathy’s All of the Above post as a prime example: “The rush to expand the extraction of natural gas carries many environmental and health consequences that are not being addressed by the Obama climate plans. Kathy’s post gave voice to many people’s concerns about those consequences and interest in moving our economy away from harms of all fossil fuels. I was proud to see it jump from our blog to the Huffington Post!“

We have tried through Giving InSight to showcase diverse ways in which philanthropy is improving conditions for health, from organizing to housing policy to green chemistry tools. Kathy writes, “I’ve often wished others could see what we see, so much great work in different places. Skimming blog topics gives you a sense of how varied and meaningful are the places for funder impact.”

We’ve been gratified to see posts re-posted by other funder groups and regional associations. Andrea liked one of the most widely-circulated, Ramtin’s Seven Reasons Your Foundation Should Be Paying Attention to Fracking. “Ramtin spelled out major issues with fracking, concisely summarizing drawbacks and risks, and including links to further reading. This post is an especially good resource for funders and others who are just beginning to explore the issues associated with fracking.“

We are grateful to everyone who’s contributed, read, shared, or commented. Thank you! And we look forward to the next year of Giving InSight, using this space to share insights about giving that advances environmental health and justice.

Here’s to year two and many more!

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