The Ripple Effect of Foundation Culture

Ethan McCoy

For the past few weeks, we’ve been following the Stanford Social Innovation Review’s new blog series, curated by Grantmakers for Effective Organizations, called “Putting Grantees at the Center of Philanthropy.” Including a post today by CEP Vice President, Assessment and Advisory Services, Kevin Bolduc, the series centers on the theme of grantee inclusion and how both funders and grantees stand to benefit if funders listen to their grantees, incorporate what they learn into their strategies and decision making, and build the productive funder-grantee relationships that are crucial to creating impact.

Among the posts thus far, Chris Cardona of Ford Foundation discussed inequity and the means by which funders can practice inclusion, and Playworks President and COO Elizabeth Cushing shared stories of the profoundly positive impact on her organization of two funders that CEP has worked with in their efforts to seek authentic and actionable grantee feedback — Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Einhorn Family Charitable Trust. The series has shared a number of diverse and interesting perspectives, and I encourage you to read them all, as well as follow the conversation on Twitter through the hashtag #FocusOnGrantees.

Learning from the grantee perspective and understanding the elements of effective funder-grantee relationships are topics we’re passionate about here at CEP, and which have been the focus of much of our work since CEP’s inception. More than 275 funders have used the Grantee Perception Report (GPR) to collect candid and actionable feedback from their grantees. Our Working Well with Grantees guide for program staff explores what is needed for funders to build strong relationships with grantees. And through our Grantee Voice panel of nonprofit leaders, we’ve collected data from the grantee perspective to inform our research on topics including nonprofit performance assessment, beneficiary feedback, foundation transparency, and the extent to which funders are aware of their grantees’ challenges — and sharing their knowledge to help them overcome those challenges.

So needless to say, we’re thrilled to see this focus on the crucial topic of grantee inclusion in this blog series — and to lend CEP’s perspective to the conversation. Today on the SSIR blog, CEP’s Kevin Bolduc shares a bit more about the important connections between foundation staff experiences and perceptions and those of their grantees. As he writes, “What happens inside a foundation doesn’t stay inside a foundation.… Grantee’s experiences are directly influenced by their funder’s own internal culture.”

You can read the entire post here.

Ethan McCoy is senior writer – development and communications at CEP.

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