Have you ever had food stuck in your teeth and only found out when you looked in the mirror hours later? If you’re like us, you probably thought, “Why didn’t anyone tell me?” The truth is that it’s tricky to give honest feedback to the people who give out grants.

Yet we all know that honest feedback is essential to improve our work. As a racial justice funder, we also know that shifting power and building equity, mutual accountability, and authentic, trusting relationships are vital to our grantmaking. And as people, we appreciate when folks share their opinions (good and bad) of what it’s like to work with us and tell us when we have food in our teeth!

That’s why we’ve partnered with the Center for Effective Philanthropy (CEP) to periodically survey our grantees to understand how we’re doing as a partner in our shared work. This is our fourth such survey since 2004.

In late 2020, the CEP asked approximately 300 Surdna and Andrus Family Fund grantee organizations to participate in an independent, confidential survey. Fifty-two percent of grantees completed the survey, which CEP then analyzed and prepared as a Grantee Perception Report comparing our results to prior years and a larger set of foundations.

We want to thank everyone who completed the survey amid a pandemic and the 2020 presidential election. Its findings show significant improvements in some areas and new challenges in others.

Here’s what we heard and how we plan to do better.

  • Our commitment to racial and social justice is a strength.
  • Multi-year general support is invaluable.
  • We need to communicate clearly, consistently, and responsively.
  • Support beyond the grant makes a big difference.

Read the full article about supporting grantees by Don Chen and Jon Goldberg at the National Center for Family Philanthropy.