Grantee Survey Results Guide Improved Foundation Communications and Operations
September 15, 2017 | Article

Last fall, we asked all of our active grantees to participate in a survey administered by the Center for Effective Philanthropy (CEP). Our purpose in working with CEP was to establish a candid, comprehensive baseline assessment of grantee perceptions of and experiences with the Foundation.

The CEP survey process is one way that we can seek the critical feedback we need to help us learn what works and does not work from the perspective of the organizations that we support. The Grantee Perception Report we receive from CEP presents aggregate findings without revealing the identity of individual respondents. This aggregated feedback is already helping us make changes in our operations, with the goal of achieving greater impact in the world through individuals like you and your organizations all around the world.

We last commissioned the survey in 2007. Since then, the Foundation has undergone many changes. When I became president, I committed to ensuring that we manage our operations as effectively and efficiently as possible, with deep respect for our grantees. The CEP survey is an important mechanism that supports that commitment.

We are taking this feedback very seriously, and have already begun to make important changes.

We are taking this feedback very seriously, and have already begun to make important changes. For example, we regret that there was confusion among grantees about how we made decisions about what areas we intended to exit and which would be priorities beyond 2016. Starting this fall, we will send semi-annual, directed communications to grantees in each Big Bet and Enduring Commitment area and will provide greater clarity about the Foundation’s priorities as well as individual program-level strategies. We are committed to being in regular communication with our grantees.

We are also reviewing our grantmaking processes with a goal of ensuring that we provide value beyond the grant check, in a manner that is efficient and effective for everyone involved. With several other large foundations, we are examining our indirect cost policy to make sure we understand and pay attention to the true costs of doing business and making the impact we both seek. We will codify the training for new program staff, emphasizing the art and the science of philanthropic work. And, we are working to improve our formal interactions with grantees around the annual and final grant reports that they prepare at our request.

With these findings, we have a baseline from which we can work to improve. We plan to administer this survey again in in 2019 and then every three years thereafter.

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