Case Study: The Rockefeller Foundation

Influencing a Global Network to Effect Change

What’s the purpose of a foundation’s website? That was one of the many big questions we asked The Rockefeller Foundation to identify as the 100-year-old global philanthropy looked ahead at its next hundred years.

Since 1913, the Foundation has been on a mission to promote the well-being of humanity throughout the world. Through various forms of support, from funding to relationship-building, the organization has propelled significant progress across the globe over the past century, but it also recognized the potential to capitalize on the power of digital media to accelerate ideas and people to solve the world’s most pressing problems. Together, we designed a number of changes that leverage The Foundation’s last hundred years of experiences, relationships, and information to influence a global network of business leaders, policymakers, media, and social impact practitioners—inside and outside The Foundation—to take action.

For the past three years and counting, we’ve continued to work side by side with The Foundation on a number of projects, including relaunching their public website, reframing their approach to knowledge management, and creating the digital home for Insight Dialogues, a live event and digital content series.

Drawing Unforeseen Connections: The Purpose of a Foundation’s Website
What will the world need to know in the next hundred years? We determined the primary purpose of the Foundation’s public website is to function as an influence tool, enabling and empowering the right players across sectors with the information and tools they needed to make change happen.

With that in mind, the new website needed to convey their unique approach to philanthropy—that every issue is interconnected and interdependent, and it will take cross-sector collaboration to solve the world’s stickiest problems. This approach drove the new Insights section, which focuses on thoughts and theories from bold social innovators, leading with questions around relevant topics like climate change and health. The section sheds light on the diversity of ideas, opinions, and people within The Foundation’s vast network—staff, grantees, and partners—and shows how seemingly disparate issues intersect. In turn, the site simultaneously inspires new ways of thinking and draws unforeseen connections between people and ideas.

Surfacing Solutions: Knowledge Management for the 21st Century
Like many organizations, particularly in the impact sector, the methods for knowledge-sharing in the digital age couldn’t keep up with the creation of knowledge. The Foundation needed to knit together the various systems already in place to make it easier for staff and partners to collaborate across the globe and reduce inefficiencies like duplicative efforts.

We reimagined the knowledge management strategy and tools—including file collaboration tools, a new intranet, best practices in learning, and an internal communication campaign and training program. We replaced the intranet with a new dashboard that prioritized user-friendliness and surfaced the most relevant information for staff to do their jobs effectively. Among the many benefits this afforded the organization, the new approach and system keeps employees connected to their role in the systemic change at hand, embraces a nimble way of working by maximizing modern tools and practices that everyone already used, surfaces impact stories for the communications team, and connects the dots more readily between organizations and people to share and exchange knowledge across the globe.

We continue to work with The Rockefeller Foundation today, evolving the site to meet user’s evolving needs. Find more on Rockefeller here.