The Kresge Foundation in Troy, Michigan, has announced the results of a Grantee Perception Report (22 pages, PDF), which was prepared for the foundation by the Center for Effective Philanthropy in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
For the report, CEP surveyed recent Kresge grantees and applicants whose proposals were declined about their perceptions of the foundation and compared them to perceptions of other foundations. According to the findings, Kresge ranks at or below the twenty-fifth percentile in five of eleven key indicators, including impact on the community and grantees' overall satisfaction with the foundation. Specifically, grantees said the foundation showed very little evidence that it understood their goals and strategies and that they were not comfortable approaching the foundation when a problem arose.
In addition, grantees rated the foundation below the twenty-fifth percentile for the years 2003-05 in regard to how well its grants helped build an organization's long-term capacity or sustainability — the basis for all Kresge grantmaking — and just below the median in 2006. The report also ranked Kresge's understanding of grantees' local communities below that of 90 percent of the surveyed foundations. And the findings "provided incontrovertible evidence that Kresge must expand its grantmaking toolbox beyond the challenge grant," said Kresge president Rip Rapson.
In a letter on the foundation's Web site, Rapson called the feedback "sobering" and "highly constructive." In response to the findings, the foundation has reorganized program staff into field-specific teams that are charged with acquiring deep knowledge in their respective disciplines. To jumpstart its grantee satisfaction efforts, it has also launched a new Web site designed to provide programmatic and application information in a more straightforward manner and to feature new content such as grantee stories and program updates.
"Kresge has fast become a learning institution," Rapson said. "Site visits have increased significantly as have networking activities. Many of the teams have discovered natural synergies such as the interconnectedness of health with the environment. This commitment to fostering positive change at the field level will eventually enable us to influence public policy — another vital component of our expansion."