Assessing the Assessment: The Donor Perception Report

I’m pleased to share results of our latest third-party-collected feedback about CEP’s Donor Perception Report (DPR), an assessment used by many community foundations to better understand their donors’ perspectives, experiences, and future giving. As we always have and always will, we take the results seriously and use them to inform our learning and improvement efforts. Thank you to those of you who responded.

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Overall, we were happy to see that the results reflect many of our aspirations for the DPR and that every respondent said they would recommend the DPR to a colleague.

Most importantly, though, funders that commissioned the DPR are using the results of their donor feedback to change. We’ve worked hard since we last solicited feedback to expand the comparative dataset of donor perceptions that provides valuable benchmarking, to refine the tool to be relevant for multiple types of donors, and to ensure that the customizable survey addresses issues of great importance to many community foundations. We were very excited to see that all respondents reported using the DPR to make some or significant change in each of the following areas: foundation strategy, resources offered to donors, communications with existing donors, and approaches to working with donors generally. As one user wrote: “The survey showed where we had huge opportunities.” That’s always our hope!

We were also happy to see that the quality of the process and experiences with our staff were also rated quite positively. Our goal is always to provide a service that combines rigorous data analysis, meaningful synthesis of recommendations, a strong understanding of community foundations, and a good value for the cost. These responses seem to reflect those aspirations, and we hope that they’ll help us continue to expand the number and diversity of community foundations using this assessment regularly to track their performance.

“CEP staff was knowledgeable, engaged, and incredibly willing to serve.” -Respondent

Not everything was sunshine and roses, of course. DPR users pointed out ways we could improve our online reporting system, making it more intuitive and user-friendly. That and similar feedback motivated us to move up some planned enhancements to that system and to our data presentation. Additionally, no donors were “extremely satisfied” with the use of the DPR on its own, without CEP guidance. And so we continue to work on the ways that we can make the DPR not just a “report,” but a living tool that can inform foundation staff decisions over time.

As always, my colleagues and I welcome your input, advice, criticism, and suggestions. We look forward to continuously refining and improving our work to be as effective and helpful a service as possible to community foundations.

Kevin Bolduc is vice president, assessment and advisory services, at CEP. Contact him at kevinb@cep.org, and follow him on Twitter at @kmbolduc.

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