The Packard Foundation operates on the basic principle that we must be good stewards of every philanthropic dollar we spend. As a result, we are committed to soliciting feedback from our grantees, peers, and other experts so that we may continually improve the way we work. Our Foundation has undertaken biennial grantee surveys since 1996 to help us become better grantmakers. I am proud of this practice that we helped develop, which is now being widely used in the philanthropic field.
Six times over the past eleven years, we have engaged the Center for Effective Philanthropy (CEP) to survey our grantees and to prepare a Grantee Perception Report™ (GPR). The GPR is a confidential survey that provides a comprehensive assessment of grantee perceptions of our performance, and compares the data to data from other foundations whose grantees were also surveyed. Investing in this process is important to us because it helps us understand how our grantees view the impact of our work and how we’re doing overall with our strategies and our grants processes. For the 2014 GPR, we sent contact information for all active grants in fiscal year 2013 to CEP. 602 grantees completed the survey, giving us a 56% response rate.
2014 Grantee Perception Report Highlights
Funders that conduct the GPR on a regular basis don’t typically see major changes. It’s more like a regular check-up—or a ‘check-in’ with our grantees. This has been the case for the Packard Foundation’s ratings over the past several GPR’s. In 2014, we continued to see strong performance across most measures, including several measures that are particularly important to us:
- Grantees continue to rate the Packard Foundation as having a strong impact in their fields. Our ratings were in the 74th percentile of our cohort of similar foundations. According to one grantee, “Packard is having an impact on [our] sector [by] pushing innovation and taking risks. This willingness to take risk, together with a long term vision, has helped the field evolve.”
- Grantees continue to give us high ratings for the efficiency of our application processes. The median Packard grantee spent half as much time on application processes as the median grantee in our cohort of similar foundations. We care about this measure because it helps us understand the burden we are placing on our grantees through our processes.
- In our 2012 Grantee Perception Report, grantee organizations that underwent a contact change gave us significantly lower ratings than other grantees on multiple measures. In 2014, we saw an increase in satisfaction amongst those grantees that experienced a staff transition.
Our 2014 ratings declined on a few measures. Most notably, we saw a downward trend in how grantees’ perceive our overall impact on their organizations, with 2014 ratings in the 59th percentile (down from approximately the 76th percentile of ratings for our cohort foundations in 2012). CEP posits that this may be related to the fact that the Packard Foundation gives fewer multi-year grants than other foundations in its cohort, and there is typically a strong correlation with multi-year funding and positive grantee perceptions. However, there is no single point solution. The trend is spread across several of our program areas and may be related to a number of new strategies in formation and exploratory grantmaking underway.
We take the GPR results seriously. We shared and discussed our 2014 results at senior management team meetings, with our Board, and with our program teams and staff across the Foundation. We will continue to use our GPR results to inform continuous improvement efforts. We will explore and monitor closely those measures where we saw a decline in 2014, and we will be working to maintain our overall strong performance, particularly for the measures called out above. You can read the full report here: Grantee Perception Report, and can find more information about the report on our website.
The Grantee Perception Report allows us to reflect on the experiences and perceptions of our grantees and to inform our practice of philanthropy. While pleased with the overall ratings, we know that to maximize our effectiveness— and that of our grantees—there is always more that can be done. We will continue to strive to enrich the interactions and relationships we share with our grantees.
Please contact us if you have any questions or comments about this survey, its results, and our efforts to learn from them. We thank all of our grantees who participated in this effort.