Over the last couple of years, CEP has formalized its advisory services offerings. Through these engagements, we work with individual funders on highly customized projects related to foundation effectiveness. As we’ve grown this practice into a core part of our mission to help funders be more effective, we’ve worked with a number of organizations on customized projects to help them learn and improve. This newsletter provides an update on several of the engagements CEP’s Assessment and Advisory Services team has recently undertaken.

If you’re interested in exploring an advisory project with us, contact Kevin Bolduc or Mena Boyadzhiev.

Stakeholder and “Pulse” Custom Surveys

Confidential surveys to collect perspectives from diverse stakeholders and “in-the-moment” feedback.

To help funders better understand perspectives of their impact and the experience of those with whom they work, CEP creates customized surveys to help funders learn from the perceptions of a wide array of stakeholders — such as leaders in the private, nonprofit, and public sectors, academics, and other foundations. These surveys can be conducted on their own or together with CEP’s other comparative assessments.

CEP conducts short “pulse” surveys for foundations between their periodic Grantee and Staff Perception Reports to gauge in-the-moment feedback. For foundations that regularly survey their grantees or staff, pulse surveys can act as a check-in on the changes funders make in response to their latest assessment.

CEP is currently working with a foundation to help them learn more about their board members’ areas of expertise, perceptions of impact, and opportunities for further work.

Customized Benchmarking and Advising

Using surveys, interviews, and data analysis to create custom benchmarks for funders to better understand and assess their operational and administrative processes.

CEP works with a role-based philanthropy membership group to gather activity and process-related information across members, benchmark peers’ work at other foundations, share effective practices, and increase their strategic impact.

Using our proprietary dataset of grantee feedback, CEP created a custom benchmark of foundation staffing and caseloads for a foundation with a high-engagement model of program officer-grantee interactions.

Working with a group of self-identified peer funders, CEP has created an in-depth set of operational benchmarks to be shared openly within the confidential group. This benchmarking highlights similarities and differences in structures and practices to inform leaders’ decision making.

Support for Philanthropy Infrastructure Organizations

Confidential member surveys to help philanthropy-supporting organizations increase their effectiveness.

CEP surveyed members of a regional philanthropy association to help the association hear candid feedback on its offerings and better understand member engagement.

Supporting Implementation

Custom benchmarks, research, and interviews to assist funders in implementing effective practices supported by data.

To inform a corporate foundation’s assessment of its selection processes, CEP developed a customized benchmark of corporate foundations’ due diligence processes by interviewing foundation CEOs about their grantmaking, compliance, and selection practices.

Using interviews with other grantmakers, CEP’s research, and a review of field-wide practices, CEP partnered with a funder to support implementation of their decision to increase their provision of general operating support.

With CEP’s research on funder-grantee relationships as a guide, CEP leads workshops for foundation program staff on developing and maintaining strong, effective relationships with their grantees.

Funder Performance Assessment

Comprehensive analysis to assess perceptions of funder effectiveness over time, including reviews and/or creations of performance dashboards.

Many foundations periodically repeat — or use multiple types of — CEP’s assessments. For one funder, CEP analyzed the comprehensive history of feedback the funder had received in order to identify themes and trends over time. This synthesis was designed for a board of directors and focused on specific questions the board would be discussing at an upcoming retreat.

Custom Research

In-depth research — including interviews, field-wide research, surveys, and data analysis — focused on specific funder needs that align with CEP’s research capacity and agenda.

CEP is currently interviewing and surveying foundation CEOs and program officers as part of a study to identify foundation leaders’ perceptions of trends in the future of philanthropy.

Interested in learning more about any of these types of advisory projects? Contact Kevin Bolduc or Mena Boyadzhiev.