Building Better Grantmaking

The idea is fairly simple: if foundations can define and measure their own effectiveness, they can use that information to improve their work for the benefit of nonprofit organizations, people, and communities.

It was that thinking, in part, that led to the creation of The Center for Effective Philanthropy (CEP), an organization providing a systematic approach to gauging foundation effectiveness.

In 2001, the Packard Foundation was one of three original funders of CEP, supporting its first major project: a foundation performance metrics study. Since then, CEP has continued to develop data that provides valuable insights on foundation performance, strategy, governance, and relationships with grantees, among other areas.

For example, CEP’s Lessons from the Field case studies highlight foundations that have taken assessment data and turned them into action, along with the challenges they faced. Likewise, after realizing that grantee perceptions of foundations depend largely on their experience with individual program officers, CEP profiled five high-performing program officers to illustrate ways foundations could build strong relationships with grantees.

Insights from CEP reports have also helped the Packard Foundation better understand its grantees, leading to the creation of the Foundation’s Grantee Experience Standards, which promise clear communications and quality interactions between staff and grantees. The Foundation continues to provide general operating support to CEP, and uses their Grantee Perception Report every two years to assess the satisfaction of our own grantees.