Don’t Miss New CEP Research on the Vital Role of Program Officers in Funder-Grantee Relationships

Relationships between funders and their grantees are so crucial because the two must work together to achieve shared goals. But these relationships can be fraught because of the inherent power imbalance between those who have resources and those who need them.

So, what is a strong funder-grantee relationship — and what does it take for a funder to form one with its grantees? To find answers to these questions, CEP analyzed new data from almost 20,000 grantees of 86 foundations in our Grantee Perception Report (GPR) dataset and conducted in-depth interviews with highly rated program officers, as identified through the GPR.

We’re thrilled to share what we found in a new CEP report out this November titled Relationships Matter: Program Officers, Grantees, and the Keys to Success. Based on our analyses, the report sheds light on what grantees say makes up a strong funder-grantee relationship, the vital role that program officers play in shaping them, and what the data shows it takes for program officers to do this work effectively.

We hope this analysis of thousands of grantee views, as well as the wisdom of program officers who do this work well, can help guide foundations as they prioritize building strong relationships with their grantees.

We look forward to sharing it with you soon. Stay tuned.

Want to Go Deeper on Relationships? Join Our Webinar on 11/16!

We’ll be hosting an interactive webinar on Thursday, November 16th from 2:00pm to 3:00pm EST to discuss the new research findings and hear from a panel of three exemplary program officers on their approaches to building strong relationships with their grantees.

Irfan Hasan of the New York Community Trust, Sarah Lovan of the McKnight Foundation, and Teresa Rivero of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will share what they emphasize and practice in their work when it comes to forming and maintaining strong relationships with grantees. All three program officers are rated highly by their grantees and are featured in the upcoming report.

The panel discussion, moderated by CEP President Phil Buchanan, will follow CEP Vice President, Research, Ellie Buteau’s presentation of findings from CEP’s yet-to-be-released research. There will also be ample time and opportunity for attendees to ask questions.

The cost is $35 per person, and you can register here. We hope you’ll join us!

Sign Up for a CEP Assessment in 2018!

With the end of the year fast approaching, now is the time to start thinking about your assessment plans for 2018. To discuss using any of CEP’s core assessments — the Grantee Perception Report (GPR), Staff Perception Report (SPR), and Donor Perception Report (DPR) for community foundations — or working with CEP on a custom advisory services project in 2018, please contact Director, Assessment and Advisory Services, Austin Long, at (415) 391-3070 x127.

Buchanan Discusses Hot Topics in Philanthropy in New Writing

Collaborative partnership between business and foundations is often assumed to be positive, but the reality is more complicated. Sector boundaries matter, CEP President Phil Buchanan writes in a recent Chronicle of Philanthropy op-ed, and “donors’ and foundations’ default position should not be one of collaboration and trust with business any more than it should be one of antagonism and distrust.”

Amid all the recent talk of “giving while living,” Buchanan reviews Putting Wealth to Work: Philanthropy for Today or Investing for Tomorrow?, a new book from Duke University’s Joel Fleishman, in the Fall 2017 issue of the Stanford Social Innovation Review. The book, Buchanan writes, is a powerful defense of perpetual foundations and a reminder that “there is no single right duration for a charitable foundation.”

New YouthTruth Analysis Sheds Light on Bullying

One in four students report getting bullied, but not all student groups experience the same prevalence of bullying, according to a new study from YouthTruth. YouthTruth recently analyzed anonymous feedback from more than 180,000 students across 37 states in grades five through 12 to understand how much, in what ways, and why students are being bullied. Findings of this analysis — released as the sixth report in YouthTruth’s Learning from Student Voice series — are sobering.

The findings show that students who identify in a different way than male or female are slightly more likely to be bullied than their male or female peers. The survey also finds that almost half of all bullied students — 44 percent — cite their appearance as the reason they were bullied. Furthermore, 17 percent of students report being bullied because of their race or skin color and 15 percent of students report being bullied due to their perceived sexual orientation.

“Creating safe schools for all students requires that teachers, administrators, and district leaders be aware of the varying rates and types of bullying that different students experience,” writes YouthTruth’s Hannah Bartlebaugh in a recent op-ed on Getting Smart. “These findings illustrate the powerful insights that adults can glean when they ask students for their feedback. Let’s keep asking — and truly listening.”

Findings of the research were also featured in an NPR piece last week.

What’s Happening on the CEP Blog? (Short Answer: Lots.)

Guest authors shared their reactions to CEP’s report, Benchmarking Program Officer Roles and Responsibilities:

  • Karin Demarest of Community Foundation Sonoma County describes how several of the report’s data points have led the foundation to identify three concrete steps for increasing the efficacy of its program work.
  • Manivanh Khy of First Fruit writes on the importance of prioritizing empathy and joy in program officers’ work with grantees.
  • And Matthew Harty of Columbia Business School shares his thoughts on two revealing data points in particular on program officers’ perceptions of nonprofit performance assessment.

CEP President Phil Buchanan shared thoughts on several pressing topics in the field over the past few months:

  • In response to recent debates, Buchanan explores the roles of community foundations.
  • He also challenges an assertion about the supposed propensity of new donors to give more unrestricted support than older, more established funders.
  • And in the wake of Charlottesville and a failure in moral leadership from the U.S. President, Buchanan reflects on his father, invoking his dad’s willingness to challenge authority and sacrifice as a necessary spirit in this moment.

Elsewhere across CEP:

  • Research Manager Jennifer Glickman shares four takeaways from this year’s GEO Learning Conference.
  • Naomi Orensten, director of assessment and advisory services, answers a frequently asked question about comparative data and why it’s so important in assessing a foundation’s effectiveness.
  • And Vice President, Programming and External Relations, Grace Nicolette discusses strategies for effectively communicating across differences.

And that’s not all!

CEP Board Member Paul Beaudet, executive director of the Wilburforce Foundation, shares how lessons learned at a recent grantee convening are informing and guiding Wilburforce’s work.

Anthony Richardson, program officer at the Nord Family Foundation, details an experience that crystalizes how listening can help funders ensure their intended help actually does no harm.

In a post on strategy and implementation, former Packard Foundation Program Officer Justina Acevedo-Cross shares four examples of mistaken assumptions, and subsequent course corrections, in the strategy for the foundation’s summer learning program.

“Is anybody listening?” asks Malcolm Macleod, president of the Johnson Scholarship Foundation, in a post discussing the value of social media to foundations.

Jessica Bearman and Elizabeth Myrick dig into grant reporting as an important, yet too often overlooked, opportunity for funders to “explore the space between what we hoped for and what actually happened.”

In the wake of a heartbreaking spell of natural disasters earlier this fall, Stuart Foundation President Jonathan Raymond and Pure Edge, Inc. Executive Director Terry Grier make the case for funders straying from their strategies when certain events necessitate flexible responses.

Meg Long and Clare Nolan of Equal Measure stress the need for funders and evaluators to work differently together in service of impact.

And Ava Kuhlen of Taproot Foundation breaks down two distinct ways a changing world is creating new challenges at nonprofits — and argues that an investment in leadership may be philanthropy’s most strategic response to both.

New Faces at CEP

Two new analysts joined CEP’s offices this summer! Emma Poole joined the assessment and advisory services team in Cambridge, and Sohail Kamdar is the newest analyst for YouthTruth in San Francisco. Welcome, Emma and Sohail!

CEP is Hiring

We are currently searching for an analyst to join the assessment and advisory services team in our San Francisco office! This is the perfect opportunity for a data-savvy and detail-oriented recent graduate or young professional who is passionate about helping grantmaking organizations better understand how they’re doing in creating social impact. Know the perfect person for the role? Is that person you? See the full job description here, and share with your networks or apply!