You aim to solve some of the world’s most daunting problems. You need to chart a course toward a desired solution and identify ways to gauge whether your approach is working.
We provide research, assessment tools, and programming that will increase your effectiveness and help you address the following key challenges.
Understanding the impact of an individual grant is hard enough, but measuring your overall performance in a holistic way presents an even greater challenge.
on performance assessment helped us develop a framework
of performance indicators that foundation leaders can use to assess and improve their performance.
Our assessment tools
can help you measure your performance in key areas as you work toward achieving your goals. These assessments are designed to gather feedback from grantees, foundation staff and board members, denied applicants, donors, and stakeholders.
Our case studies on the David & Lucile Packard Foundation
and The Wallace Foundation
describe how these funders used CEP’s assessment tools
to make changes and improve their performance.
Strategy, by our definition, is a framework for decision-making that:
- focuses on the external context in which a foundation works; and
- includes a logical causal connection between use of funder resources and goal achievement.
CEP has completed a series of research studies on foundation strategy.
In Beyond the Rhetoric, we found that while most privated foundation CEOs and program officers extol the benefits of having a strategy, fewer work on a daily basis in ways that meet our basic definition. We also identified four types of decision-makers, ranging from not strategic to strategic. In Essentials of Foundation Strategy, we affirmed our definition of strategy and identified key characeteristics that differentiated more strategic foundations from less strategic ones.
In Rhetoric Versus Reality: A Strategic Disconnect at Community Foundations, we focused on community foundations, finding the same disconnect between the rhetorical embrace of foundation strategy and its actual, day-to-day use that we saw at private foundations. All three reports contain examples of foundations that exemplify strategy in action.
Take our free strategy self-assessment to learn where you stand on the strategy spectrum.
Boards have fiduciary and regulatory responsibilities. Your board is comprised of talented, successful leaders, and they have more to offer than just oversight.
CEP’s report, Beyond Compliance: The Trustee Viewpoint on Effective Foundation Governance, based on the most comprehensive survey of foundation trustees ever conducted, identifies five keys to foundation board effectiveness. Among its findings are that engagement in strategy development and impact assessment are key to foundation board member perceptions of effectiveness -- making CEP’s assessment tools and research on these topics of particular interest to those seeking to improve foundation board effectiveness.
CEP’s research on governance also explores issues of racial diversity in the boardroom and thorny questions such as the role of compensation and family dynamics in the board room.
Foundation governance is also frequent topic on the CEP Blog.
Grantees are often the link between your resources and impact, so a positive and productive relationship with grantees is crucial. We have identified three dimensions that are critical to grantee satisfaction:
- Quality interactions with foundation staff
- Clarity of communication of a foundation’s goals and strategy
- The foundation’s expertise and external orientation
Our research, based on rigorously collected, large-scale data gathered from thousands of grantees of nearly 250 foundations of all types and sizes, provides insights into what grantees value. Major reports on funder–grantee relationships include:
What about your grantees? What do they value about your organization, and what do they think needs improvement? Our Grantee Perception Report provides insight on relative foundation performance on key dimensions, such as the quality of interactions, perceptions of impact, and the clarity of communications. Foundations using the GPR repeatedly are making changes and improving: our analyses show that foundations that use the Grantee Perception Report (GPR) more than once are making changes that are benefiting the organizations they fund.
Managing operations in ways that support your goals and align with your strategy requires good data.
The Staff Perception Report (SPR)
explores foundation staff members’ perceptions of foundation effectiveness and job satisfaction on a comparative basis.
Our Stanford Social Innovation Review
article, "Luck of the Draw,"
explores how differences in the quality of program officers, even within a single foundation, affect grantee experiences. The article also suggests ways foundation leaders can support improved program officer performance.