Grantee Perception Report

Building a culture of learning and continual improvement

In Fall 2017, the Foundation conducted its second Grantee Perception Report (GPR) through the Center of Effective Philanthropy (CEP). The GPR uses a confidential survey that gathers grantee perceptions across several assessment categories and provides comparative data from over 250 other funders over the past five years. Our team continues to find the GPR an extraordinarily helpful tool as it provides a range of data on how grantees perceive the quality of our relationships, the helpfulness of our processes, and the clarity of Foundation communications. It also furnishes a wealth of ideas, comments, and suggestions directly from grantee partners. Participating in the GPR process helps to guide our continuous improvement efforts to make our team and work more effective.

We welcome you to access the following for more information:

The Rogers Foundation walks the talk of deeply partnering with its grantees to enact positive change in our community. – GPR participant

What We Heard

We received a 68% response rate, and remain humbled and impressed by grantees’ encouragement and willingness to be a critical friend in providing constructive feedback. The results from this GPR round help us understand that while we continue to have strengths as a funder, we have some work to do.

  • We are proud that when grantees think of the Rogers Family Foundation the words that most come to mind are OAKLAND, Supportive, Engaged, and Innovative.
  • Grantee partners continue to rate us high for our impact on and understanding of the local community, as well as for the depth of our understanding of grantee goals, strategies, and challenges.
  • Grantee partners also rated us in the 90th percentile for advancing knowledge in the fields in which we work. This is especially true for our efforts in Early Literacy and Blended Personalized Learning.
  • We saw a dramatic decline with respect to supporting a grantee’s ability to sustain the work that we fund, falling from the 80th percentile in 2014 to the 6th percentile. This is juxtaposed by exceptionally high ratings for the level of field-focused and comprehensive non-monetary assistance our team members provide to grantee partners. These are areas we want to dig into more deeply, and will be doing grantee listening sessions and outreach to continuously improve our practice.
  • The strength and authenticity of our relationships with grantee and community partners is central to our mutual success. We take seriously the decline in ratings for funder-grantee relationships, clarity in communicating our goals and strategy, and the consistency of our communications. We have significant work to do in these categories, and have lined up action steps to better communicate about our work.
  • Our grantee partners spend considerably less time on grants administration (proposal development, site visit preparation, reporting, etc.). We fall in the lower 10th percentile for grantee hours spent on funder requirements over the lifetime of their grant. We intend to keep it this way, and will continue to strive for opportunities to make our grantmaking operations efficient and accessible.

Recommendations & Follow-Up Actions

Based on the GPR results, CEP developed five recommendations for us to consider. Our team spent some time together to dive into these areas for continued improvement and came up with the following course of action:

Consider engaging grantees in targeted conversations to better understand changes in perceptions regarding impact on grantees’ organizations, fields, and ability to sustain funded work. We take the declines in these three areas to heart, particularly around the ability to sustain funded work. At the same time, we also have high ratings for the level of field-focused and comprehensive non-monetary assistance our team provides to over a third of the grantee partners that responded to the GPR. That said, we have work to do in these areas. We have plans to engage our grantees in honest and transparent conversations in the coming months, so we can hear more deeply about their experience and understand how we can improve our practice.

Emphasize a cohesive and clear message about the Foundation’s goals and strategy. Since our first GPR back in 2014 we adopted a new strategic plan, narrowed our fields of focus, and introduced new staff. We value the feedback from grantees that we have room to improve in how we communicate changes and updates that impact on our strategic focus and funding. In the coming months we will be sharing updates and reflection from all three of our strategy areas—Quality Schools, Personalized Blended Learning, and Early Literacy—in an effort to increase awareness and transparency around what changes we want to see in Oakland education and how we hope to make that happen.

Rogers released a new strategic plan in the relatively recent past, but seems to still be working to interpret its application vis-a-vis existing and potential grantees. – GPR participant

Consider providing more general operating support, longer grants, and field-focused non-monetary assistance. We know that multi-year general operating support is the unicorn of grantmaking. Three years ago at the start of our current Oakland Education Strategy, we intentionally ramped up making multi-year general operating support grants as we know these are highly valued by grantee partners and demonstrate our level of commitment. As evident from the GPR results, our team and grantee partners mutually see the value and effectiveness in providing non-monetary, “beyond the grant” assistance. We plan to continue both of these practices and will expand or deepen these opportunities, when possible.

Facilitate conversations about what has led to increased pressure felt by grantees during the selection process (a rise from the 16th percentile in 2014 to the 40th in 2017). As we have tightened our strategy and goals, we have also honed in on what we envision will help move Oakland public education so that more students and families have access to high quality schools. In some cases, particularly for schools involved in NGLC in Oakland, the conversations with our team during the selection process may feel different and more tailored than in the past as we gently push grantee partners to think about what is vs. what could be. In addition, we see the linkage between the potential lack of clarity around our strategy and goals and how it impacts the grantee partner application experience. This remains another area for our team to dig into and learn from our grantee partners as a way to ensure their experience of our process reflects the values our team embodies in our collective effort to achieve excellence.

Consider increasing staff capacity to have more conversations about how to assess the results of the funded work. It has become our standard practice to conduct a grant-level report evaluation as a way to communicate with grantees and the Foundation Board about how we assess the successes and challenges of a grant. Feedback from the GPR suggests that there could also be more opportunities to discuss with grantee partners how their organizations will assess their work. We will explore what this could look like and reach out to grantees to understand what kinds of conversations could be helpful.

Our staff and board continue to value participating in the GPR. This latest round of results gives us much to reflect upon as well as learn from our grantee partners. We are grateful to CEP’s talented staff for helping us understand our grantmaking practice and how successful relationships help drive shared strategic goals. More importantly, we thank all of our grantees for their participation in this survey and their extraordinary efforts on behalf of Oakland’s students and families.

We also welcome you to review the results from our past Grantee Perception Reports: