In 2019, The Ralph M. Parsons Foundation worked with the Center for Effective Philanthropy (CEP) to conduct a Grantee Perception Report. This survey was our third, and we were eager to hear from you all again, following our most recent survey in 2015. I want to express my personal gratitude to all of our grantees who participated. We are grateful that so many of you took the time to complete this anonymous survey and we appreciate your candid feedback.
Overall, we had a higher than average response rate of 76%, representing 384 organizations. Our grantees provided us with meaningful comments and suggestions. At this time, we have had a few months to review the results and we want to share some of the central themes that emerged and our initial reflections. The following list is not exhaustive, as we are still analyzing the full report and carefully reading more than 80 pages of thoughtful open-ended remarks. The report is available below.
Central themes in the Grantee Perception Report:
- We received positive feedback on our move to an online application portal (completed in 2017), and the interactions grantees have with Foundation staff members throughout the review process. We heard requests for further streamlining, with less burdensome applications, faster funding decisions, and electronic payments as opposed to mailed checks.
- General operating support continues to be highly valued because of the flexibility it affords, and several grantees shared that multi-year grantmaking would help provide greater organizational stability.
- We received strong scores on the clarity and consistency of our communications, and many grantees requested we increase our interaction, particularly after a grant has been awarded.
- Grantees would like for us to provide more than just funding – to go “beyond the grant” and consider how else we might provide support.
Based on this feedback, we plan to make some changes in the near future, including:
- To clarify the grants process further, we will add an infographic, video, or other tool to our website that outlines all the steps involved, and we will review our correspondence and other materials to see how we might be more transparent about what to expect when applying for a grant.
- To create efficiencies and eliminate redundancies for our applicants, we will examine our Letter of Inquiry and Full Proposal applications carefully to find ways we might better align them.
We are exploring changes that will take time to implement:
- Most respondents stated a preference for electronic grant payments. We initially thought this could be a routine improvement; however, we learned it would require migration to a new accounting platform, which will take several years to implement. Complicating the matter, some grantees expressed a desire to continue receiving payments by mail. We remain committed to exploring the nuances of these responses while we further investigate the feasibility of offering an electronic payment option in future years. Stay tuned.
- We are looking into opportunities to go “beyond the grant” and serve as a resource to you in new ways, such as convenings, newsletters, or simply more communication. This will require us to think about our staffing workload and how program officers or other RMPF team members might deploy their time in different ways to build deeper relationships with our grantee partners.
Some changes are not possible at this time:
- Following our 2015 CEP survey, we implemented an online application process which sped up the average time from the full proposal application to funding decision by more than two months. We appreciate that even faster application review times are desirable, but unfortunately, we do not think that we will be able to establish renewal mechanisms or make significant strides on expediting funding decisions at this time. Because we consider site visits and thorough proposal reviews to be important parts of the process, it is necessarily time intensive. However, after approval, we try to maintain a “light touch” throughout the grant term so that you are not burdened by frequent reporting requirements.
- While we understand the benefit that multi-year grantmaking would provide, at this time we are only able to do this infrequently, such as for capital requests or large grants to fund strategic growth, repositioning, or change. Significant multi-year grantmaking encumbers the Foundation in future years, preventing us from ensuring access for a wider number of worthy nonprofits.
As a responsive grantmaker, we take this feedback seriously and have conducted a series of conversations with our staff and Board to discuss next steps. We will continue to seek your input as we develop future initiatives and implement changes to our processes. As always, we encourage you to continue sharing your thoughts with us. Thank you for helping us in our efforts to improve the lives of Angelenos!