Giving Compass' Take:

• PEAK Insight Journal talks with Deaconess Foundation VP Allison Rand, who discusses the importance of taking a "blank slate" approach when revisiting grant reports in order to sharpen thinking.

• Some takeaways for organizations include: more customized report questions, sharing lessons gleaned from other grants and scheduling more in-person update meetings.

Here's how to fix terribly-written grant reports.

Allison “Lissy” Rand is Vice President, Grantmaking and Strategy for the Deaconess Foundation, in Cleveland, Ohio. She joined Deaconess as Program Officer in 2014 after nearly 10 years as an Associate with Foundation Management Services (FMS) in Cleveland. At FMS, Lissy served as a program officer for five client foundations with funding priorities across health, human services and education. Lissy serves on the Board of Family Connections and is a 2017 graduate from Leadership Cleveland.

PEAK INSIGHT JOURNAL (PIJ): How does Deaconess Foundation think about reporting?

RAND: We think about reporting primarily as a learning tool. Grant reports help us understand the realities of implementation, things like how partnerships are working, whether new program models are working, how our grantees manage multiple funding streams, etc., etc. When the reporting process goes well, we nearly always learn that some of the assumptions — made by the Foundation or by the grantee, or, most often, by both of us — were not fully accurate. We can each incorporate these lessons into future conversations and decisions. The reporting process helps us to sharpen our thinking, so we can make better decisions across our entire portfolio.

PIJ: How has your approach to reporting evolved over the life of the foundation?

RAND: Deaconess has always had a small team and an engaged board. Our learning was more anecdotal and less formal. So, while staff and board interacted with grantees quite a bit, reporting seemed primarily to be a compliance activity. Reports lived in files, but the content of the reports were rarely fed back into the process in a systematic way. This was partly a function of a very broad grantmaking portfolio, dispersed across many different program areas.

Read the full article about full interview with Allison Rand about grant learning by Elizabeth Myrick and Jessica Bearman at PEAK Insight Journal.