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June 2014 President’s Message: Grantees Rate the Work of the Foundation

We are pleased to release the results of our most recent survey of grantees and applicants, conducted in September and October 2013 in partnership with the Center for Effective Philanthropy (CEP). As a part of this process, over 700 current Weingart Foundation grantees and recent applicants were invited to participate in a confidential online survey. We know how valuable your time is and greatly appreciate all of you who participated in this important survey.

Partnering with CEP provided us with benchmarking and comparative data from more than 250 funders and over 40,000 grantees in the CEP database. The results of this comprehensive survey are encouraging, giving us assurance that our focus on providing multi-year core support is helping to build grantees’ organizational and programmatic capacity — and that our staff and grant review processes are working effectively for nonprofits. In particular, two key findings demonstrate this:

  • The combination of large (generally six-figure), multi-year, core operating grants is associated with the highest ratings of impact on grantees’ organizations. About half of Weingart Foundation’s grantees report receiving grants in this specific pattern, and these grantees rate higher on most measures in the report, including the Foundation’s impact on their organizations.
  • More than half of Weingart Foundation’s grantees, compared to thirty percent for a similar funder cohort, indicate that the primary impact of the grant they received from the Foundation was enhanced capacity for their program or organization.

This feedback has also been valuable in pointing out a few areas for improvement, which might require adjustments on our part. These areas include:

  • The combined time Small Grant Program (SGP) grantees spend on both the selection and reporting/evaluation processes, while comparatively lower than in the Regular Grant Program (RGP), is not quite commensurate with the much smaller grants they receive, resulting in a lower dollar return.
  • Grantees rate the Foundation’s reporting and evaluation processes to be slightly less helpful in strengthening their organizations or work compared to other funders. Although not time-intensive, the helpfulness of the Foundation’s reporting and evaluation process is comparatively the lowest rated measure in this report.

Based on the survey results, CEP had a number of recommendations for Weingart Foundation, which we are carefully reviewing. Recommendations under review include:

  • Provide additional training opportunities for grantees and host convenings of nonprofit organizations working in the same fields;
  • Shorten the time between application submission and communication of funding decisions whenever possible;
  • Consider right-sizing the balance between grant size and administrative hours required for SGP grantees; and
  • Discuss with a larger proportion of grantees how their funded work will be assessed, and once grantees submit reports or evaluations, discuss the results with them.

We look forward to communicating further action items related to this report and welcome your feedback. Are the findings consistent with your experience with Weingart Foundation, or do you have a different perspective? Are there additional recommendations you would suggest? To see the full survey results, click here. To comment, click here. We look forward to receiving your feedback.

Fred Ali
President & CEO