Hewlett Foundation Communications Training Evaluation

What Nonprofits Say

In 2010, the Hewlett Foundation hired Williams Group to conduct an assessment of the various training programs it had offered to its grantees over the years. These programs included trainings designed for: grantees from all the Foundation’s grantmaking programs; grantees from a particular field; and the CEOs in a program that included grantees of other foundations.

Every program featured an emphasis on creating a solid communications strategy using the Smart Chart®, a tool developed by Spitfire Strategies. In addition, the curriculum included sessions on how to create and deliver compelling presentations, how to use social media effectively, and how to improve storytelling skills, among many other topics.

So what did Hewlett learn? Three key things emerged from this assessment:

1. The trainings are excellent. It was no surprise that grantees who had participated in a Hewlett-sponsored training, even several years ago, still remark on the high quality of the trainers, the tools, and the curriculum.

2. Recruitment is key. The researchers confirmed that having the right mix of senior staff and implementers from an organization is a prerequisite for success. Selecting organizations with the capability to implement the lessons of the training is also critical.

3. Follow-up by the Foundation is essential. Training can be very helpful, but the Foundation could have done a better job of following up with its grantees to ensure that they use the follow-up technical assistance built into the program, that program officers at the Foundation personally speak with their grantees about what they learned, and perhaps most important, that Hewlett program staff

ask for the communications plan or campaign plan that the grantees created during the training.

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