Ford Foundation

The Ford Foundation is an independent, nonprofit grant-making organisation and the second-largest philanthropy in the United States. For over 75 years it has helped build institutions and networks, invested in individuals and leadership, and supported new ideas. It is guided by its mission to reduce poverty and injustice, strengthen democratic values, promote international cooperation, and advance human achievement.

The Durable and Ford Foundation team has worked together for over 10 years. The team is highly focused on content strategy as the primary driver of audience engagement across digital channels. The current website is the third major update of the foundation’s site that the team has worked on.

Business Case

Under the new leadership of Darren Walker, the Ford Foundation sharpened its focus on global inequality. A reimagined content strategy was required to communicate this strategic shift and related changes to the foundation’s program areas. The content strategy also needed to advance the foundation’s long-term goals for transparency and thought leadership.

In addition to signaling a strategic evolution, it was essential to reflect the cultural shift taking place at the foundation. Walker’s vision for the Ford Foundation rejected the bureaucratic approach common in the philanthropic world, pushing the foundation to flourish as a vibrant, nimble organisation. To effectively convey this sense of dynamism, the IA and UX needed to be reevaluated.

Fordfoundation.org desktop view of homepage

Our solution

Working closely with the Ford Foundation Office of Communications, we helped define a new content strategy and a redesigned IA and UX. The new site is built on Umbraco and is hosted on Azure. It is integrated with Workday, MS Dynamics and Ford’s bespoke grants management database.

Energetic and Timely

  • To demonstrate that Ford is a vibrant, innovative organisation, the home screen was reimagined to highlight the foundation’s most recent activities.
  • Filterable cards represent a wide range of content, ranging from tweets to press releases, blog posts to events.

Transparent

  • To increase transparency, the grants database was redesigned to help visitors better understand the foundation’s grantmaking strategies.
  • Map- and chart-based infographics are an important aspect of the UX to help visitors visualise the data.
  • An alternative “standard taxonomy” was introduced to accommodate grantmaking paradigms going back 10 years.
Fordfoundation.org grant makers page

People-focused

  • The new site brings the the grantmaking staff into the foreground, unlike typical foundation websites.
  • Grantmakers can be filtered by title, region and program area.

Open Dialogue

  • Presented as a conversation about inequality in all its forms, the #InequalityIs section highlights the foundation’s sharpened focus on global inequality.
  • 38 videos are presented from people of all walks of life—celebrities, blue collar workers, CEOs, academics, etc.—each discussing what inequality means to them.
Fordfoundation.org InequalityIs page

Results

A qualitative research study commissioned shortly after launch confirmed that the key content strategy goals for the website were met.

The respondents, recruited from grantee organisations, were generally quite positive about the new site. Younger participants, in particular, embraced the site’s new approach as fresh, vibrant, and engaging:

  • ...really cool for Ford, not what you would expect.

  • ...visually friendly, it paints a picture and then gives you the narration you need in order to navigate.

  • The way it feels really open says something good culturally.

Want to learn more?

We welcome the opportunity to share our perspectives on content strategy.

Contact Peter Gassiraro at +1 646 397 4940
or peter.gassiraro@durabledigital.com.