Connecting in Real Life to Build Our Social Media Savvy

This post was authored by: Carrie Harlow, EPIP LA Steering Committee Co-Chair and Program Officer, The Ahmanson Foundation and Alexandra Carew, EPIP LA Steering Committee Member and Communications Manager, Southern California Grantmakers

In June, EPIP Los Angeles held its very first EPIPhany Hour. (Shout out to the EPIP Philly Chapter for inspiring the program name, adapted from their EPIPhany Groups.  We loved all of the idea sharing at this year’s Chapter Leader Gathering in New Orleans!)


We envision this series to be loosely organized—no agendas or formal presentations! Using hot topics in philanthropy and leadership development for guided, informal discussions, we hope to see this program style blossom and evolve based on the interests of emerging professionals in our region. Ultimately, we want networking opportunities to have SUBSTANCE, and we want educational opportunities to be FUN.

For our first EPIPhany Hour, we met for a casual lunch focused on social media and how it continues to transform philanthropy and our careers. Through small table discussions, participants came up with some valuable insights we’d like to share:

  •  Twitter is a great tool for learning trends in the field on the philanthropy side; on the nonprofit end it's a difficult place to build community and drive content unless the nonprofit is involved in advocacy.
  • Sometimes retweeting > tweeting
  • Facebook seems to be a stronger way to create community, interest, and generate potential fundraising through storytelling for nonprofits. Side note: quotes overlaid on pictures seem to really resonate.
  • Though a new field of professional development, don't be afraid to advocate for organizational support in helping you develop communications skills: social media can help us be engaged as grantmakers and better share our work and the work of our grantees.
  • LinkedIn is an emerging tool; this is one place it may make sense to clean up and limit your network to those you actually know.
  • In our experience, efforts like #GivingTuesday and other social media campaigns don’t necessarily translate to gifts.
  • Facebook is not just a donor engagement/marketing tool; organizations are also using social media as a communication and coordination tool for programming with youth.
  • Social media can be a great way for funders to engage with grantees throughout the year, not just during the review process.


One of the biggest takeaways from our conversations was the importance of maintaining personal identity/brand consistency. For example, use the same picture and general themes across your Twitter accounts, LinkedIn, et cetera. That said, social media is a place to "widen" your profile—the best twitter feeds are those that showcase interests "outside the comfort zone" of safe work topics. So, you might be a program officer for environmental issues, but don't shy away from including your interest in animal rights or women in the workplace. Some genuine personality is needed to make things interesting, and can help you "pivot" careers down the line.

We can’t wait to organize our next EPIPhany Hour!

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