Perception survey: what are we doing well and what we can do better

In September 2016 we conducted a grantee-partner and applicant perception survey through the Center of Effective Philanthropy (CEP). CEP is a nonprofit that provides funders with tools to improve overall foundation performance. Over the past ten years, CEP has surveyed more than 50,000 grantees of more than 300 funders to build a dataset that allows foundations to assess their performance, as viewed by grantees, on a comparative basis.

We want to thank CEP for their research and our grantee-partners and applicants for their time and their honest feedback.

What we heard from grantee-partners and applicants

In total we received valuable feedback from 89 grantee-partners and over 320 applicants in English, Spanish and French and from all regions Mama Cash works in.

Grantee-partners

Grantee-partners were very positive about your experiences with us. Compared to the grantees of a similar foundations, Mama Cash grantee-partners have more positive perceptions regarding our:

  1. Non-monetary assistance: Mama Cash provides a larger number of grantee-partners with intensive accompaniment support. However, grantee-partners shared they would like to have more opportunities to exchange with other grantee-partners and with Mama Cash. We will look into possibilities to make this happen more frequently.
  2. Impact on grantee-partner organisations: Mama Cash is rated higher than typical for our understanding of grantee-partner organisations and the contexts in which you operate. Compared to feedback we received in 2014, grantee-partners rated us significantly more positively for improving their ability to sustain their work.
  3. Relationship management: Mama Cash’s responsiveness to grantee-partners was rated higher than in 2014; this was an important improvement for us. Grantee-partners also rate Mama Cash higher than other foundations are rated for our overall transparency.
  4. Reporting and Evaluation: Mama Cash’ grantee-partners rate the helpfulness of our reporting/evaluation processes in the top 1 percent of CEP’s dataset. However, grantee-partners do spend more time on Mama Cash’s reporting processes than you do on other donors’ processes.

Applicants

Applicants had more critical feedback for us, compared to grantee-partners. This feedback has been extremely valuable to us as we work to improve our grantmaking application process. Based on the feedback, we have made the following changes to our processes already:

  1. We are providing more personalized feedback on the reason for declining applications, as applicants said they wanted more information about why they were not selected for funding.
  2. We added an extra question to our Letter of Interest for applicants to be able to share more information about their group, as they felt this was not possible in our previous form.
  3. Applicants shared with us that funding should go to ‘unregistered, grassroots, small and new organisations’. This is indeed our priority and we added more text to our Letter of Interest to clarify further that being unregistered doesn’t influence our decision making.
  4. We are providing illustrative examples of grantee-partners that meet our criteria in the ‘Criteria’ section on our website, as applicants shared with us that they wanted to understand our criteria better.

Our next steps & recommendations

Reflect: We will reflect internally on the differences between the 2014 and 2016 results, on the high amount of hours used for our reporting and evaluation process, and on the differences between the feedback of grantee-partners and applicants.

Improve: In addition to the four changes we describe above, we will be using the CEP data to further improve our processes and work in the coming months.

We are pleased to share the full report with you and welcome your ongoing feedback.

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