The Council on Foundations deserves two thumbs up for putting together a thought-provoking leadership summit that attracted philanthropists and foundation staff from across the globe. Unfortunately, their effort to communicate what was happening at the event to people who could not attend was less successful.

The homepage of the Council on Foundations does not feature a single headline about the conference. Visitors can click on a text link that redirects them to Philanthropy Today, the Council on Foundations website devoted to covering the event. This website features pictures with captions that read “undefined.” The video section features a screenshot of a media player with the words, “Coming soon.” On the up side, visitors can treat themselves to PDF versions of the conference’s daily print newsletter.

Contrast the coverage described above with an anecdote from Kassie Rohrbach, director of the Energy Action Coalition and a panelist on a session this morning called The Millennials and the Moment: Youth Engagement and Leadership Development. As the organizer of the PowerShift 2007 Conference, her organization provided video training and gave cameras to interested attendees so they could cover the event using social media. The result is this powerful set of videos and this collection of images, created entirely from attendee-generated footage of PowerShift 2007. If I could make one point, it would be that the Council on Foundations can learn from the communications strategies of its youngest members.

So what are non-attendees interested in the summit to do? There are two solutions.

(1) Sean Stannard Stockton of Tactical Philanthropy, a leading philanthropy blog, organized a blogging team to cover the conference. A group of us has posted more than 30 blog entries, with more on the way. Here are links to the most recent posts:

(2) The Chronicle of Philanthropy also sent a blogger delegation to cover the conference. They have published a Council on Foundations notebook for the last three days. 

Here are the most recent blog posts from The Chronicle of Philanthropy:

The Tactical Philanthropy and Chronicle of Philanthropy blogging teams have done most of the heavy lifting in getting news out about the conference. And yet, not all bottom-up coverage of an event like this one works out 100 percent. Those of us covering the summit have added the COF2008 tag to our blog entries. Technorati, a tag-based aggregator of blog entries, has confused the Council on Foundations 2008 conference with the Czech Open Fighting 2008 competition, which also used the COF2008 tag. 

As a result, all of the blog entries from the Tactical Philanthropy blog team now appear alongside videos of the Czech Open Fighting event. I guess crowd-sourcing has its limits.

imagePeter Deitz is a micro-philanthropy consultant and the founder of Social Actions, a website that helps individuals and organizations use social media to plan, implement, and support peer-to-peer social change campaigns so that grassroots solutions to local and global problems can flourish.  He also writes a blog about micro-philanthropy.