Thank You to CEP’s 2016 Assessment and Advisory Services Partners

Kevin Bolduc

As we approach the end of 2016, I want to take a second to thank the many funders that entrusted CEP’s Assessment and Advisory Services team this year to help them grapple with important questions about their effectiveness.

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Every year at this time we take a look back as a team to moments when funders and their grantees, donors, and staff inspired us through their thoughtfulness, action, and perseverance in moments of success, challenge, and, sadly, even tragedy.

This year we had the privilege of working on nearly 90 different engagements with 72 partners, including private, community, corporate, government funders, and even a philanthropic affinity group. Our work was increasingly global, with funders located in seven countries and surveys conducted in multiple languages all over the world. We produced 50 Grantee Perception Reports, our most common assessment, and released a new video that includes perspectives about the importance of grantee feedback from the Ford Foundation, Barr Foundation, and Einhorn Family Charitable Trust.

Our customized advisory services — focused on helping funders find actionable answers to questions of effective structure, process, and approach — increased in depth and breadth. Across about a dozen projects, our advisory work ranged from the publication of a major piece of commissioned research on the future of foundation philanthropy; to developing input for strategic planning for a philanthropic association; to helping a group of peers at different institutions explore the various ways they approach their work, structure their roles, and address common challenges.

There’s a lot on the horizon for 2017, including more flexible, streamlined pulse survey options for funders seeking rapid feedback from grantees and staff, new grantee survey questions exploring the value and quality of funders’ reporting and evaluation process, and a half-day at CEP’s biennial conference specifically for users of CEP’s assessment and advisory services to learn from CEP’s and each other’s experiences making change stick in their organizations. (Sign up now!)

We’re excited to continue to play our small role in helping you do your work as effectively as you can. If you’re interested in exploring whether CEP can help you in your work — whether it’s surveying your grantees, your donors, or your staff, or something much more customized — please drop me a note. I’d be happy to chat.

The challenges on which philanthropy focuses are immense and important. So I’ll leave you with one of my favorite grantee survey comments of the year. It’s a comment that reminds me of the multitude of important ways funders play unique and irreplaceable roles in creating a better world for all of us, and it motivates me to continually improve CEP’s work in helping funders achieve impact.

“Few foundations have as much impact in the field. A grant from the Foundation gives extraordinary gravitas … and acts as a magnet for great creative minds to participate and collaborate. It provides a life force to a project that can be leveraged across sectors to facilitate the project’s embedding in culture and social change movements. It creates dramatic new proportions for a grantee, adds a global imprimatur, and brings in a support network beyond anyone’s wildest dreams. While the money is extraordinarily significant, Foundation staff also takes the time to show up in the field and hold space for questions, conversations and new ideas to emerge in a very open and generous way. Their presence is responsive and not proscriptive; exploratory and not didactic. The grants the Foundation gives are a blessing, a high bar, and a promise — that they believe in you and have your back.”

Happy New Year and best wishes for an effective 2017.

Kevin Bolduc is vice president, assessment and advisory services, at CEP. Follow him on Twitter at @kmbolduc and reach him by email at kevinb@cep.org

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