Time to register for CEP's 2009 Conference
Registration for "Aligning for Impact: Connecting the Dots" is now open. The conference will take place March 31-April 1, 2009 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles, California.
Foundation executives and trustees attending the conference will explore ways to align foundation staff and resources to achieve maximum positive impact on the issues, communities, and people they seek to affect. Conference participants will hear from a distinguished roster of speakers, including: Jim Collins, best-selling author of Good to Great, Built to Last, and Good to Great and the Social Sectors; Gara LaMarche, President and CEO of the Atlantic Philanthropies; Carol Larson, President and CEO of the David and Lucile Packard Foundation; Nancy Roob, President of the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation; and Robert K. Ross, President and CEO of the California Endowment.
The conference is co-sponsored by Southern California Grantmakers and has the generous support of the California Community Foundation, the Stupski Foundation, the Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles, and the S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation.
CEP's conferences always sell out, and space is limited. To register, go to www.regonline.com/CEP09.
Using Baseline Data as a New CEO: An Interview with McKnight Foundation President Kate Wolford
Kate Wolford joined the McKnight Foundation as president in December 2006. The Foundation had commissioned its second Grantee Perception Report® earlier that fall, and the results arrived just as Wolford came on board. A few months later, she used CEP's Staff Perception Report. In this interview with CEP Senior Research Writer Judith Ross, Wolford tells how receiving feedback from the Foundation's grantees and staff helped her hit the ground running as she embarked on her new role.
JR: Let's start with the Grantee Perception Report. What were the benefits of receiving those results as soon as you came on as president?
KW: Coming from the other side of the table as a grantee, I am very aware of the difficulty of getting honest feedback, given the inherent power differential between foundations and grantees. To receive anonymous data that is based on consistent questions that are asked of other foundations' grantees, and have the answers compared with those received by a group of foundations that are fairly similar to one's own, is an invaluable opportunity. It gives grantees the confidence, hopefully, to be quite honest. The Grantee Perception Report definitely provides insight into the perspective of those with whom you are interacting. It tells you how well grantees perceive your foundation's management of relationships, communications, and the tasks to which we commit as grantors and grantees in trying to shape a different future. That kind of objective data is very helpful.
JR: How did having the Grantee Perception Report results help you in your new role?
KW: First and foremost, it was an opportunity for us to be much more consistent and clear about our internal procedures. We had quite a few new staff because of turnover and expansion during the transition before I came on. So it was a way to get us all on the same page in terms of what we hold ourselves accountable for in managing both tasks and relationships. Since we depend on our grantees to accomplish our mission, we need expertise in issues and understanding how to assess grants, but also skills in managing relationships with our grantees. The Grantee Perception Report gave us an opportunity to develop an organization-wide plan for addressing issues, and it gave me a chance as the new CEO to signal that I take this seriously – it's not going to be put on a shelf. For example, we now have a grantmaking standards guide specifying the timelines in which certain procedures should take place.
JR: You used the Staff Perception Report a few months after becoming president of McKnight. Why?
KW: In part, it was the experience that we had with the Grantee Perception Report, which was an incredibly helpful tool in getting a baseline perception from grantees. I felt that I would benefit from having a similar assessment where internal people could respond anonymously and give very honest feedback about their perceptions. I also wanted the comparative information to get a sense of where we were positioned in relation to our peers. And it was an opportunity for our senior leadership to set a new agenda for the internal organizational culture.
JR: What did staff think of the Staff Perception Report process?
KW: The biggest question for the staff going in was, "Is it really going to make a difference?" There was already some credibility developed because of the way we responded to the Grantee Perception Report: within six weeks we debriefed staff, created an action plan, and appointed work teams to follow up. So that garnered credibility in that were we to engage a staff survey, those results would be taken just as seriously.
JR: Can you share any details about what you learned from the Staff Perception Report?
KW: There was an incredible amount of goodwill from the staff and a strong sense of camaraderie, so there were a lot of positives to build on. There were some areas where people said, "Here's something that would really help us to feel more effective in our work." For example, like many organizations, there was a sense that there were too many silos and that we needed ways for people to better appreciate functions and roles across the organization, understand how each person's work contributed to the mission, and in that way help them feel more directly engaged no matter where they were in the organization.
Another perception was that professional development opportunities were not spread equally across the organization – that senior and program level leadership had more of those opportunities. And so, with staff input, we created a wider range of staff development opportunities. Some were specific to the job, and some were more about career development. These included everything from training in communications and giving presentations to managing work-life balance. So while some were job- or organization-specific, others were meant to help people develop into well-rounded individuals committed to the nonprofit community.
The survey also confirmed what I had already been hearing, namely that staff wanted more clarity and transparency around how decisions are made in the organization. These included decisions about how compensation is structured, expectations for the performance management system, and how organizational goals and priorities are set.
JR: Did the Grantee Perception Report and Staff Perception Report work together to give you deeper insight?
KW: Yes. The staff survey really focuses on the foundation's internal stakeholders and internal procedures, and the grantee survey pushes you to look at your external stakeholders. But if you are not perceived as having consistency of communications on one, for example, you are going to be hamstrung on the other.
The issues that we focused on in the Grantee Perception Report were around transparency and clarity and consistency of communications of goals and strategies. A lot of what we heard in the staff survey really did dovetail with those issues. The more we can be clear and really make sure that everybody internally understands and has buy-in, the better we can meet the challenges that we set for ourselves in responding to the Report.
JR: What are some of the specific things you are doing to improve in those areas?
KW: We constantly remind ourselves that one of our values is respect for those with whom we interact. That then becomes a work-related behavior of how we manage our communications – whether we're delivering news that people would want to hear about a grant or what they're hoping not to hear. We must be able to do that with as much clarity and respect as possible.
Then there have been some very pragmatic steps. For instance, we didn't have individual email addresses on the Web site. If grantees are asking for more frequent and personal communications, putting staff's direct emails on the Web site versus funneling them through info@mcknight is one of those practical steps that communicate transparency and accessibility.
JR: And what about improving the clarity and consistency of communications about goals and strategies?
KW: The communication staff did an internal review of all our guidelines. As a result, quite a few were updated, streamlined, and then tested with grantees to determine whether or not they were actually clearer. Also, our Web site now offers more opportunities for feedback about the clarity of different communications.
We are also taking steps to ensure that as new staff come in they are thoroughly oriented about areas where there is flexibility and areas where we expect consistency. We do a lot of internal coaching with all of our program staff to make sure that they understand not just what we do but why we do it.
JR: You put your Grantee Perception Report results on your Web site. Why?
KW: One of our values is accountability, and we want to demonstrate that sense of accountability and transparency to the general public and to our grantees. We want grantees to know that we value the time they took to give us input, and that we are willing to share it. We ask our grantees to learn and to share their successes and failures, so we want to model transparency and accountability ourselves. Also, we work with tax-privileged dollars. We are accountable to the public for operating with sound practices and with being willing to look for areas of improvement.
JR: Would you recommend engaging assessment tools like these to someone who is starting a new leadership role?
KW: I would. Data is helpful. Comparative data is even more helpful. You always have to look at it vis-à-vis your own organizational structure, your mission, your values, but in the absence of data, it's pretty hard to make judgments. You want to be grounded rather than simply anecdotal.
JR: Do you have any advice for others who are considering using the Staff Perception Report and/or the Grantee Perception Report?
KW: If it's going to sit on a shelf, you're probably better off not doing it. Just by doing it you set an expectation that you are serious about what staff and grantees are telling you. Having a follow-up process is critical.
We used a fairly participatory process in sharing the results of these reports with our staff. We had CEP's staff in to debrief our entire staff both times to signal the importance of these reports. For the Grantee Perception Report we set aside an additional day to really dig in and allow everybody in the organization to respond and give ideas about opportunities for improvement. And then the senior leadership team forged those ideas into an action plan.
JR: Do you plan on repeating these assessments?
KW: Yes. Our board is committed to repeating the Grantee Perception Report. In terms of the Staff Perception Report, the first one was a baseline. I'll be keen to see where we are in another year or two. Otherwise, how else do you know if you've improved? By repeating the same tool, you have the benefit of comparison. If you have a theory going in that certain changes will actually lead to a different result, you can test whether or not that's been accomplished.
RBF President Stephen Heintz Elected CEP Board Chair
Stephen Heintz, president of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund (RBF), has been elected by the CEP Board of Directors to a three-year term as chair, to take effect on January 1, 2009.
Heintz will succeed Phil Giudice, who has been CEP's board chair since 2004 and will complete his term on CEP's Board in December 2009. "CEP exists and is where it is today due in great part to Phil Giudice's efforts and leadership," said CEP President Phil Buchanan. "CEP is now extremely fortunate that Stephen Heintz, who has been a leader in pushing for greater foundation impact, will serve as our next board chair. We are moving from a board leader who literally helped create the organization to one who was among the earliest adopters of our tools."
Heintz, who has been president of RBF since 2001, was founding president of Demos: A Network for Ideas & Action, a public policy research and advocacy organization working to enhance the vitality of American democracy and promote more broadly shared prosperity. He has also served as executive vice president of the EastWest Institute (EWI) and has been a cabinet official in the State of Connecticut.
Giudice has been commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources since July 2007. He is active on the board of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative and a member of the Commonwealth's Energy Facilities Siting Board. Giudice has also served as board member and senior vice president of EnerNOC, a start-up company providing electricity demand-management services to businesses, institutions, utilities, and grid operators to obtain savings and relieve stress on the electric system.
Giudice will be honored for his service to CEP and foundations at CEP's March 31-April 1 conference in Los Angeles.
For a full list of CEP's Board of Directors, click here.
CEP Data Assists Effort to Streamline Grant Processes
A new report commissioned by Project Streamline examines the red tape in grant application and reporting processes. Drowning in Paperwork, Distracted from Purpose identifies ten ways that the current application and reporting system drains time and energy from nonprofit practitioners, ultimately hampering their effectiveness.
Drowning in Paperwork draws heavily on CEP's grantee survey dataset. The report is also based on surveys, interviews, focus groups, and outside research. CEP aided the study's researchers by analyzing and coding tens of thousands of grantee survey responses.
The report lists four core principles to help funders reduce paperwork with concrete steps for each – starting with a rigorous assessment of what kind of information is truly needed to make grantmaking decisions. Other steps include making the grant reporting requirements proportional to the size of the grant; saving and storing grantee information so repeat grantees don't have to resend; accepting common applications/reports and existing grant materials when possible; and making communications and grantmaking processes clear and straightforward.
"We were very happy to help with this effort," said CEP Vice President – Research Lisa Jackson. "Providing solid data that leads to practical solutions is what we are all about."
Project Streamline is a coalition of organizations representing both funders and grantees. The report is available for free download here.
Crystal Hayling, Blue Shield of California Foundation's President and CEO, Joins CEP's Board of Directors
Blue Shield of California Foundation President and CEO Crystal Hayling has been elected to a three-year term on CEP's Board of Directors. Hayling's term began in July 2008.
Hayling brings 20 years of nonprofit and foundation experience to the Board. Prior to joining the Blue Shield of California Foundation in 2004, she was senior advisor for the Marguerite Casey Foundation. She also has served as director of special projects at the California HealthCare Foundation and has held leadership positions at the California Wellness Foundation and the Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund.
"Coming from a foundation that is at the forefront of the sweeping changes in health care taking place in California, Crystal Hayling adds a unique point of view to our Board. She also has a solid track record of advocating for the underserved. Those attributes, combined with her commitment to effective philanthropy, make her a stellar addition to CEP," said Phil Guidice, chair of CEP's Board of Directors.
A graduate of Yale University who also holds a Masters in Management Science from the Stanford Graduate School of Business, Hayling serves on the Board of Grantmakers in Health and the Northern California Advisory Board of College Summit.
CEP on the Road
CEP staff members will address topics ranging from foundation strategy to assistance beyond the grant this fall in a series of speaking engagements.
- Lisa Jackson, vice president – research, will lead an interactive workshop focused on findings from CEP's foundation strategy research at the Council of Michigan Foundations' Advanced Grantmaker Workshop on October 13.
- CEP President Phil Buchanan will tackle the elements crucial to maximizing foundation impact as he leads an interactive leadership workshop on October 22 at the Grantmakers for Education's 12th Annual Conference. On November 11, Buchanan will join Perla Ni, chief executive officer of Great Nonprofits and Katherina Rosqueta, executive director, Center for High Impact Philanthropy School of Social Policy and Practice at the University of Pennsylvania, at the Independent Sector Conference. The three will discuss innovative methods for measuring impact and the connection between results and particular management practices.
- Manager Romero Hayman will present CEP's research on program vs. operating support on October 28 at the Ohio Grantmaker's Forum 2008 Conference. Hayman will explain the contexts in which greater operating support may or may not be most effective.
- Senior Research Officer Ellie Buteau will present CEP's new research findings on assistance beyond the grant at CEP's West Coast office celebrations on October 29 and 30, and at the Community Foundations of Canada Conference 2008 to be held November 7-9.
News from the West Coast: CEP San Francisco Office Opens in October
CEP will be hosting events in Los Angeles and San Francisco to celebrate the opening of its new West Coast office and share a presentation of CEP's new research findings on assistance beyond the grant.
Valerie Threlfall will lead the new office. Threlfall joined in March 2008 to lead CEP's Constituent Voice Initiative. Before joining CEP, Threlfall served as a nonprofit consultant and was the director of commercial and strategic planning at start-up biotechnology firm, Momenta Pharmaceuticals. She holds a joint MBA and MPP from Northwestern University's Kellogg Graduate School of Management and Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government. In her new role, Threlfall will continue to direct the Constituent Voice Initiative while also leading assessment tool and client development work as she manages the San Francisco office. Joining Threlfall are Senior Research Analyst Kelly Chang, and Research Analysts Rachel Niederman and Sally Smyth.
A new Manager – Client Relations, Sindhu Madhavi Srinath, will also join the West Coast office. Srinath holds a Master of Public Administration from Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs. Before joining CEP she was a Senior Consultant at Deloitte Consulting, LLP.
"I am extremely pleased with the team staffing our West Coast office," said CEP President Phil Buchanan, "Valerie, Rachel, Kelly, and Sally have all made important contributions to our work while in Cambridge, and I know they will do more of the same in San Francisco. We also look forward to working with Sindhu, who is a valuable addition to the team. The new office will enable CEP to create relationships with more foundations and enhance existing ones, yielding more improvement and greater ultimate impact by funders."
The James Irvine Foundation is supporting the establishment of CEP's West Coast office, located at 120 Montgomery Street, with a $500,000 three-year grant. The grant also supports the expansion of programming and communication efforts within California – with a special focus on Southern California, the growth of CEP's tools among West Coast foundations, and the development and use of new tools more broadly.
Please join us in Los Angeles or San Francisco. Events to launch the new West Coast office will pair a special presentation of CEP's latest research on assistance beyond the grant with a cocktail reception. The events are designed for foundation CEOs, trustees, and program staff.
October 29, 2008
4:00 pm to 7:00 pm
Millennium Biltmore Hotel
506 South Grand Avenue
Los Angeles, California
- San Francisco Event:
October 30, 2008
4:00 pm to 7:00 pm
222 Mason St
San Francisco, California
There is no cost for this event. Space is limited. RSVP by October 15 to Kathryn Sherman by emailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling (617) 492-0800 ext. 230.
CEP Expands Assessment Tool Staff to Meet Growing Demand
To accommodate growing demand for its assessment tools, CEP added three new research analysts to its ranks in August. The three additions to the assessment tool team will be involved in CEP's ongoing collection and analysis of foundation performance data and in the creation and delivery of assessment tools to foundations.
Mishan Araujo, an honors graduate from Stanford University, has a BA in Public Policy and a minor in Spanish. While at Stanford she co-chaired a conference on International Women's Health and Human Rights. Her honors thesis examines the effects of sex education policy on adolescent sexual risk-taking behavior in the United States.
Tim Chu graduated from Bowdoin College with a BA in economics. As a student at Bowdoin, he interned with the senior management team of Esperanza Health Center, a nonprofit community health center in North Philadelphia. He also conducted health access research in Maine and worked in a cancer biology lab at the Mt. Sinai School of Medicine.
Shahryar Minhas is a graduate of the University of Michigan with a double major in Political Science and Economics and a minor in Classical Civilizations. Prior to joining CEP he worked with Professor J. David Singer researching interstate conflict.
"We are delighted to have Mishan, Tim, and Shahryar on staff," said Kevin Bolduc, vice president – assessment tools. "We received more than 200 applications and interviewed more than a dozen candidates in order to select these outstanding research analysts."
For a full list of CEP's staff, which now numbers nearly 30, click here.
About this Newsletter
Effective Matters is a quarterly newsletter
published by the Center
for Effective Philanthropy (CEP), a nonprofit organization
focused on the development of comparative data to enable higher-performing
foundations. CEP's mission is to
provide data and create insight so philanthropic funders can
better define, assess, and improve their effectiveness and impact.
If you have questions about this newsletter
or would like general information about CEP and its activities,
please contact Alyse
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