The conversation at the Center for Effective Philanthropy (CEP) tends to move rapidly toward the subject of feedback. The assessment tools we provide to foundations make it possible to collect responses in areas relevant to foundation organization and practice from a wide range of constituent groups — grantees, local stakeholders and donors among them. The goal in every case is credible, comparative feedback that gives those constituents a voice and places them in context.
Donors and the Donor Perception Report (DPR) were the particular focus of a recent seminar conducted at the Council on Foundations’ fall conference by Kevin Bolduc, CEP’s vice president – assessment tools. Video from that session makes a strong statement about the utility of feedback in general but also about the power of comparative data.
What we see here is a look at what foundations get from the DPR. Above all, that is the contrast between what foundation staff members surmise donors think of them, and what the data compiled through CEP’s cumulative surveys actually reveal. During the seminar, Kevin asked attendees to suggest one word that donors might be expected to use to describe their community foundation. Participants offered up a list: trustworthy, responsible, connector, leader, engaged, pretty much in that order.
From research, he then listed what donors actually said to describe the community foundation they work with. These were, in order: effective, professional, helpful and efficient.
The point is that data replaces assumptions with facts. And even a seasoned hunch can benefit from that sort of informational update.
Taking part in the rest of the session with Kevin Bolduc were Amy Cheney, vice president for Giving Strategies at the Greater Cincinnati Foundation; Terence Mulligan, president of Napa Valley Community Foundation; and Sarah Nelson, chief philanthropy officer at the Communities Foundation of Texas. These foundations differ in terms of geography, mission and history but all share an appreciation of how measurable feedback can improve their work processes as well as the specific findings they drew from constituent feedback. A full video of this seminar will be available soon at www.effectivephilanthropy.org.
To find out more about the DPR and the power of feedback, friends and colleagues are invited to join CEP for a webinar from 2 to 3 p.m., EST, on Friday, October 7. Amy Cheney will share her experience with the DPR, and participants will have the chance to pose questions to her, as well as to CEP President Phil Buchanan and Kevin Bolduc. We have had a good show of interest in the webinar already, and expect a lively conversation.
Click here to register.
David Trueblood is vice president – communications and programming at CEP.