Data Point: Learning From Failure

The use and management of data stands at the core of the work undertaken by the Center for Effective Philanthropy. The set of survey tools CEP has developed as well as field-wide research builds comparative data drawn from key constituent groups—grantees, donors, staff members and others—providing insights that enable funders to better define, assess and improve their effectiveness.

Here is another finding from our recent survey exploring the current status of performance assessment among larger foundations. The survey was conducted in January and February of this year, and we received responses from CEOs of 173 U.S. foundations with annual grantmaking of at least $5 million.

CEOs taking this survey were asked to indicate, on a scale of 1 (Strongly disagree) to 7 (Strongly agree), the extent to which they agreed or disagreed with the statement:

“Foundations would benefit from being able to hear more stories about foundation failures”

Just over three-quarters of CEOs agreed with this statement and another 14 percent were neutral. Meanwhile, fewer than one in 10 CEOs disagreed and not a single one responded stating they “strongly disagree” that stories about foundation failures would benefit their work.

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To read about current foundation CEOs’ attitudes toward assessment and what foundations are doing to understand their performance, see the report, The State of Foundation Performance Assessment: A Survey of Foundation CEOs written by Ellie Buteau, Ph.D. and Phil Buchanan and published by the Center for Effective Philanthropy.


Ellie Buteau is Vice President – Research at the Center for Effective Philanthropy.






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