The Weingart Foundation as Viewed by Applicants and Grantees of the Regular Grant Program
A Letter from Fred Ali, President and CEO
We are pleased to release the results of our most recent survey of grantees and applicants to the Weingart Foundation’s Regular Grant Program. This survey was conducted in March and April 2012 and is the third survey of our Regular Grant Program within an eighteen month period. These assessments are important components of our ongoing efforts to solicit feedback on our work as well as to understand issues and concerns faced by the nonprofit communities we serve.
The results of this most recent survey are consistent with the two past surveys of the Regular Grant Program. Overall, they provide us with some assurance that our grant review processes and our staff are working effectively with grantees and applicants. There are also some findings that cause us to reflect and which will require follow-up actions on our part. These findings include:
- 77 % of applicants to the Regular Grant Program report that the letter of inquiry (LOI) process was either clear or very clear to them. The remaining 23% responded “not applicable.” It is possible that some survey respondents were not the individuals who had written the LOI and simply didn’t know the answer to the question. However, it is also possible that the process was not clear to some applicants. We will follow-up in order to better understand the reasons for the “not applicable” response.
- The sample of declined applicants in this survey is very small, given that invitations to submit full proposals are only made to the LOIs that show the strongest likelihood of success. As a result, most declinations happen at the LOI stage. Therefore, we plan to survey the applicants denied at the LOI stage as well.
- For the first time, more survey respondents report that their capacity to accomplish their missions has decreased than that their capacity has remained stable or improved. This response is consistent with our FY2013 Grant Plan assumptions and further validates our focus on Core Support grants and capacity building.
- At the same time, we are heartened by the answers we received in response to operating cash on hand and reserves. In comparison to previous surveys, fewer respondents report that they have no cash or cash equivalents on hand and more indicate they have operating cash for six months or more. For the past few years, we have been concerned about the lack of liquidity we see on the financial statements of our grantees. We will continue to closely monitor this in our grant review.
As a direct result of the feedback we have received from our applicants and grantees, we are implementing the following action items:
- We’re working on an online grant reporting system to help streamline the reporting process.
- To further clarify our process, we have re-worded or added some clarity to our guidelines and FAQ's on a number of topics. For example, some applicants felt that they didn’t need a full three months to submit a proposal. We’ve revised the FAQs to clarify that applicants may submit a proposal as soon as it is complete and we will act upon it when we receive it.
- The Core Support application is considered slightly more challenging and/or time consuming by applicants, as it looks at the organization as a whole rather than a single program or project. To address feedback from our applicants on this issue, we are adding additional space for our applicants to respond to some of the questions on our Core Support application.
Since we have now found fairly consistent results in three surveys of our Regular Grant Program over the past eighteen months, we will likely reduce the survey’s frequency. At the same time, there may be some areas of special focus, such as on financial health, that we may want to continue to track on a more frequent basis.
We welcome your feedback about this report. We would also appreciate your thoughts about what trends, issues and topics are important for the Foundation to follow in the nonprofit community. Please let us know at WFfeedback@gmail.com.
Finally, I would like to thank you for your ongoing responsiveness to the Weingart Foundation and the important contributions to the community that you and your organization make.