A Note from CEP President Phil Buchanan:

It’s a busy and exciting time at CEP, and I am pleased to share with you the latest news. Let me know your thoughts and reactions.

If you are a foundation CEO, Vice President, or Trustee, please mark May 20-21, 2015 in your calendar to join us at our next biennial conference – in San Francisco. Details on the program will be coming soon.

Phil Buchanan



Heinz Endowments President Grant Oliphant to Become CEP Board Chair

board-grantGrant Oliphant was elected to serve as the next Chair of the Board of Directors of CEP, succeeding the Greater Cincinnati Foundation President Kathy Merchant effective January 1, 2015.

“We have been incredibly fortunate to have Kathy as our Board Chair and are equally fortunate to have a terrific successor in Grant,” said CEP President Phil Buchanan. Merchant has served on CEP’s Board since 2008 and will continue on as a board member after completing her term as Chair.

Oliphant, who was just named president of Heinz Endowments after six years as president of the Pittsburgh Foundation, has been on CEP’s Board since 2012. “Grant brings to the Board unparalleled experience and perspective given his leadership roles at both community and private foundations – both of which are crucial audiences for CEP,” said Buchanan.

“What I value most about CEP is its bedrock commitment to giving our field the thought leadership and the tools we need to make us more effective, relevant and, perhaps most important, empathetic,” said Oliphant. “This organization has stellar staff and leadership, and my role as Board Chair, along with the role of all our board, is to support them in delivering on the promise of better philanthropy. That’s the commitment we have embraced for the coming years, that CEP will keep pushing our field to hold itself accountable for its own performance.”

During Merchant’s term as Chair, CEP went through considerable change. A planning process that concluded last year saw CEP chart a number of new directions, including launching an advisory services practice, a major operational benchmarking initiative, and committing to increasing programming efforts. In addition, CEP’s Donor Perception Report (DPR) for community foundations achieved widespread adoption – it has now been used by 49 foundations – and CEP released a major report aimed at community foundation leaders and focused on donor satisfaction. Merchant has been a crucial advisor to, and champion of, both efforts.

“I cannot overstate what Kathy has contributed to CEP,” said Buchanan, “or the gratitude of the staff and other board members for her leadership. I am glad she will continue as Chair through the year and on the Board after Grant assumes the Chair.”

“It has been my pleasure, and a true learning journey, to serve as Chair of CEP’s Board for the last three years,” said Merchant. “As its name suggests, CEP is constantly in search of ways to help foundations achieve greater effectiveness. Serving on CEP’s board has been a real bonus for me, adding to the core benefit of being a frequent user of CEP’s assessment tools at The Greater Cincinnati Foundation. CEP is truly fortunate to have Grant Oliphant, with his wealth of private and community foundation experience, as our next Board Chair.”



New CEP Research Coming Soon

CEP’s research team is working on a report examining the relationship between foundation staff perceptions of the organizations at which they work and grantees’ perceptions of those same foundations. The research, which draws on surveys of nearly 1,300 foundation staff members and 7,000 grantees at 29 large foundations, explores the degree of alignment between the perspectives of foundations’ staff and grantees – and the connection between a foundation’s internal culture and processes and their grantees’ experiences.

Another upcoming research report from CEP will explore the extent to which nonprofit organizations collect and use feedback from their beneficiaries to improve their work. The research will also examine whether nonprofit leaders believe that their foundation funders understand the needs of these beneficiaries.

CEP’s research will also be featured in an upcoming issue of The Foundation Review in an article titled “Transparency, Performance Assessment, and Awareness of Nonprofits’ Challenges: Are Foundations and Nonprofits Seeing Eye to Eye?” The article, by CEP’s Vice President of Research Ellie Buteau, PhD and Senior Research Analysts Ramya Gopal and Mark Chaffin, will appear in The Foundation Review’s next issue.



CEP Adds New October Round for Grantee and Donor Perception Reports

Due to demand, CEP has added a new survey round for 2014 for foundations interested in commissioning either a Grantee Perception Report (GPR) or Donor Perception Report (DPR). Foundations that participate in this new round should express their interest by August 15th; results will be delivered in early 2014.

“We’re very pleased that so many funders are choosing to get important feedback from their grantees and donors in 2014. And we’re glad that CEP’s new online reporting system gives us the flexibility to work with more funders than ever before,” said CEP Vice President-Assessment Tools Kevin Bolduc.



Analysis of Who Serves on Foundation Boards

Boards of large foundations are surprisingly light on philanthropy and nonprofit experience, according to analysis by CEP President Phil Buchanan and Research Analyst Jennifer Glickman.

Buchanan and Glickman examined the composition of 25 of the largest private, grantmaking foundations with board member information readily available on their websites. On the CEP Blog, they wrote that that of the 295 board members studied, just two are current foundation CEOs and another seven are former foundation CEOs. Buchanan and Glickman also looked at the relatively low number of nonprofit CEOs on those foundations’ boards and shared findings in a column in The Chronicle of Philanthropy, “More Grant-Maker CEOs and Presidents Should Serve on Foundation Boards.”



On the CEP Blog: New Data, New Views, and New Perspectives

Several CEP staff and a lineup of influential guest bloggers voiced their opinions, shared new research, and made compelling arguments on the CEP blog this spring.

CEP’s Senior Research Analyst Ramya Gopal reported on new research findings from CEP’s Grantee Voice panel on what grantees think foundations most need to understand about the issue of nonprofit sustainability. As Gopal reported in her post, nonprofit leaders want support for their indirect costs and more unrestricted and consistent or multi-year funding.

The research also revealed grantees’ perceptions of the consequences of not receiving such support, including an inability to plan for the future, inadequate capacity or infrastructure, and diversion from focusing on their mission and impact.

CEP President Phil Buchanan took issue with inadequate research methodology in his series of posts on the tendency for respected publications to present research “findings” without transparency about methodology. Buchanan argued that “claims about outcomes should not be made lightly. Supporting evidence should be provided.” Buchanan also wrote a widely discussed post on increasing public critique of foundations, arguing that “more and different approaches from different organizations raising different questions are, in my view, signs of progress and health.

CEP’s Vice President of Assessment Tools Kevin Bolduc drew inspiration from philanthropist Alan Pifer and argued on the blog that informed decision making must draw from not only the intellectual “head” but emotional “heart” in order to maximize philanthropy’s effectiveness.

Also on the blog, William Keator, vice president for programs at the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations, outlined precisely why business is an ineffective analog for philanthropy and found a compelling analog between effective education practices and effective foundation strategy. Kelly Brown, director of the D5 Coalition, argued that advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion is only possible with the right organizational culture and leaders who draw support from their peer networks to advance this work and hold themselves accountable. Finally, Sarah Beaulieu, senior advisor at Opportunity Nation, answered Phil Buchanan’s “Five Questions” about evaluating philanthropic research and encouraged other nonprofits to do the same when assessing their research and data sources.



dpr2-webcover3New Research Reveals Keys to Community Foundation Donors’ Satisfaction

CEP released a new research report in April 2014 revealing what it takes for community foundations to satisfy their donors and describing the consequences of having less satisfied donors: they are less likely to give in the future or to refer others.

The research came as the nation celebrated the 100th anniversary of the community foundation. “The accomplishments of community foundations over the past century are significant,” said CEP Vice President of Research, Ellie Buteau, who co-authored the report, What Donors Value: How Community Foundations Can Increase Donor Satisfaction, Referrals, and Future Giving. “However, community foundations today are operating amid much more competition for donor attention and resources.”

The report showed that donor satisfaction is high on average across community foundations, yet there is meaningful variation. The research also revealed that the strongest predictors of donor satisfaction are donors’ sense of the foundation’s level of responsiveness when they need assistance and donors’ perceptions of the foundation’s impact on the community. The report profiled three foundations rated particularly highly by their donors:  the Dallas Foundation; the Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham; and the Community Foundation Serving Boulder County.

“These three foundations are among the highest rated in our comparative dataset of more than 6,000 donors of 47 community foundations,” said CEP President Phil Buchanan. “We hope their stories are useful to other community foundations seeking to improve the way they work with their donors.”

CEP’s findings suggested that community foundation donors care more about community impact and community leadership than they do about areas such as administrative fees. “These findings should provide some encouragement that donors can – and do – value what community foundations are especially well positioned to deliver,” said Buteau.

The Chronicle of Philanthropy’s Maria DiMento also covered CEP’s research findings – reporting that “Donors to Community Funds Praise Their Leadership, Knowledge, and Integrity.” You can read the full article here.

The new research generated a lively conversation among community foundation leaders and staff. More than 300 participants joined an April 28 webinar to hear Ellie Buteau present the new research findings. Deborah Ellwood, executive director of CFLeads, moderated a discussion with Josie Heath, president of the Community Foundation Serving Boulder County and Neil Steinberg, president & CEO of the Rhode Island Foundation, focusing on how their foundations have achieved high marks from donors. To listen to their thought-provoking discussion, the webinar is available for download here, or visit the Previous Events section of our website.

CEP invited several community foundation leaders and exemplars to blog about their thoughts on the research. Guest bloggers included Meredith Jones, president & CEO of the Maine Community Foundation, Neil Steinberg, president & CEO of the Rhode Island Foundation, Lora Terry, Donor Relations manager at the Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham, Lori Larson, senior director of DonorEdge at Guidestar and Phillip Lanham, director of Donor Services at the Greater Cincinnati Foundation.



CEP Staff Take on New Roles

alyse-thumb Alyse d’Amico will assume a new role as Special Assistant to the President and Director of Human Capital effective September 1. d’Amico, who has been at CEP in a host of roles since 2003, will be responsible for recruiting, professional development, coaching, and strengthening CEP’s positive work culture. She will hand off her current development and fundraising responsibilities to other staff.

“I am thrilled that Alyse will be moving into this new role,” said CEP President Phil Buchanan. “I can think of no one better positioned to handle these crucial functions.”

d’Amico, who works a half-time schedule, has served over the past decade in roles from Office Manager to Vice President – Development, Programming, and Communications.



CEP’s Austin Long was promoted to Director of Assessment Tools after three years as a Manager leading CEP’s work with a wide variety of clients from CEP’s San Francisco office. In his new role, Long will continue to lead client engagements particularly with CEP’s west coast audience and will more frequently be representing CEP at conferences and for other funder audiences.

“Austin is an incredibly skilled and dedicated member of our team, and an absolute pleasure to work with,” said Kevin Bolduc, CEP’s Vice President of Assessment Tools. “He knows CEP’s research and assessment tools extremely well, and is constantly inspiring all those with whom he works, both inside CEP and at the funders we work with, to maximize our impact on philanthropy. This promotion recognizes his considerable contributions to driving the effectiveness of CEP’s work.”



Jen Vorse Wilka was promoted to Director of Partnerships on the YouthTruth Student Survey team after three years as a Manager.

“Jen has worked with dozens of major school districts and innovative school networks to utilize student perceptions in leadership and instructional decisions,” said Marny Sumrall, Executive Director of YouthTruth. “Jen’s promotion is in recognition of her invaluable contributions expanding YouthTruth to help educators accelerate improvements in their K-12 schools and classrooms.”





CEP’s Mark McLean was promoted to Associate Manager of Assessment Tools, after a combined three years as a Research Analyst and Senior Research Analyst delivering high-quality work to many of CEP’s clients. In his new role, McLean will continue to provide leadership for many of the data operations on the team, as well as begin to manage client engagements.

“Mark’s dedication to high-quality, rigorous, and accurate work is unparalleled,” said Kevin Bolduc. “This promotion recognizes the significant extent to which our team has come to rely on Mark as a real leader of some of our most important work.”



2013AnnualReport_slider2013 Annual Report

As CEP implements a new strategic plan to do to more to help foundations in 2014, we also paused to reflect on what we accomplished in 2013. Our 2013 Annual Report, which is now available on our website, reviewed the research we released, innovations we made in our delivery of assessment tools, progress of our YouthTruth initiative, and the success of our biennial national conference in Detroit.



CEP is Hiring!

CEP is currently seeking candidates for several positions. We are looking for a dynamic and experienced Manager to join the Assessment Tools team.  Reporting to the Vice President of Assessment Tools and working in CEP’s Cambridge, MA office, the Manager will work with both internal and external stakeholders to lead the development of client relationships with foundations using CEP’s assessment tools, to oversee data generation, analysis and report creation processes, and to ensure quality in CEP’s work.

CEP is also looking for an entrepreneurial, experienced individual who will have the unique opportunity to help develop and lead CEP’s new Advisory Services efforts. Also reporting to the Vice President of Assessment Tools and working in CEP’s Cambridge office, the Director of Assessment Tools will partner with CEP’s senior leadership to establish the strategy for Advisory Services work and identify the offerings that best leverage CEP’s knowledge base.

CEP is also searching for a Development and Communications Writer. The Writer will work closely with the President to create letters, grant proposals and reports for CEP’s fund development efforts and the Director of Marketing and Programming to craft effective communications targeting CEP’s primary audience of foundation leaders. The successful candidate will have a demonstrated talent for writing and editing, as he/she will play a key role in crafting and honing CEP’s external messages.  He/she will also be a collaborative team player who has a personal interest in the nonprofit sector. This is a junior level position based in CEP’s Cambridge, Massachusetts office.

For more information and to apply, visit our Careers page.