Giving Compass’ Take:
• The Center for Effective Philanthropy’s Kevin Bolduc writes about the importance of listening to all constituents — not just the most vocal — when it comes to making key decisions in philanthropy.
• Is your organization doing enough to promote the voices of those who don’t always speak up? Is data collection reflective of all grantees’ needs? This piece can help many leaders reflect on methodology.
A few weeks ago, I was chatting with a vice president of a foundation that my organization, the Center for Effective Philanthropy (CEP), has worked with over the course of many years. As we caught up, she interjected, “Remember the time that you were presenting the results of our first grantee survey and you shared a grantee comment that called our processes ‘onerous’ and ‘meddling?’”
I did remember: it was challenging feedback made by a clearly angry recipient of the foundation’s funding. This vice president’s comment, though, took me by surprise. It had been years ago, and we’d worked with her on other grantee surveys in the time since then …
Still, she got me thinking about who it is that gets heard by funders. In an increasingly crowded conversation, issues of voice and power play out in subtle ways. Is it only the squeakiest wheel — the most disgruntled grantee — that gets heard? Only the loudest thank you? Does the quieter common experience get lost?
This dynamic is a challenge not only in the use of feedback in philanthropy but also in the sharing of ideas and information. In a world of information overload, whose ideas break through? The most powerful voice? The most compelling presentation? The newest idea?
Given these dynamics — and they exist well beyond philanthropy, too — it’s incumbent on all of us to ensure we’re attentive to not just the loudest voices. Those that might otherwise go unheard often provide crucial insight about where and how we should choose to act.
Read the full article about why foundations should consider all the data by Kevin Bolduc at cep.org.
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