The second Grantee Perception Report (88 pages, PDF) produced for Kresge by CEP in the last five years — the first was published in 2007 — measured the perceptions of nonprofit organizations that received grants from Kresge in 2010 and early 2011 as the foundation was wrapping up a major operational and programmatic transition. Based on an evaluation involving CEP's full data set of 269 large, medium, and small foundations as well as a smaller cohort of twenty-one peer foundations, including Atlantic Philanthropies, the California Endowment, and the Ford, MacArthur, and Surdna foundations, the report found that Kresge ranked higher than in 2007 on nearly every measure, from having a clear understanding of and impact on fields, communities, and organizations, to the clarity of its written guidelines and program goals, to its helpfulness during the grantee selection process.
Kresge grantees also said the foundation's impact on their respective fields was 70 percent higher than all foundations in the data set and 70 percent higher than its twenty-one peer foundations; that the foundation's understanding of their communities was higher than 75 percent of its peer foundations; and that the foundation's direct impact on their organizations was higher than 80 percent of its peers.
On a less positive note, the report found that the foundation ranked below 70 percent of its peers and below 74 percent of all funders in terms of its responsiveness to grantees. In addition, the report found that program officers at Kresge interact with supported organizations at a rate that was below 70 percent of its peers.
As a result of the findings, Kresge Foundation president Rip Rapson announced changes to the foundation's communications efforts "[to improve] the manner in which we treat all applicants and [to increase] the frequency of contacts with grantees overall." Among other things, the foundation plans to continually improve its Web site, which was re-launched after the most recent CEP survey was conducted; expand the variety and frequency of electronic communications it broadcasts to its fields of interest; assess how it handles incoming phone and e-mail inquiries and make adjustments accordingly; and increase connections between grantseekers and Kresge program staff on a more regular basis.
"Through the CEP survey, our grantees and declined applicants have told us much of what we knew and a good deal of what we didn't," said Rapson. "We think [the] feedback affirms our fundamental course and suggests the necessity of both improving practices related to applicant and grantee interactions and intensifying our commitment to develop ways of assessing whether or not our strategies are successful in advancing our aims."