At Overdeck Family Foundation, we aim to open doors for every child in the U.S. by measurably enhancing education both inside and outside the classroom. In our collective work towards our mission, we are guided by three core values, all of which we lean on daily with our grantees and with each other: “connect genuinely,” “learn better, together,” and “think and act with rigor.”

In this two-part series, we wanted to share our journey and what we learned along the way to encourage other funders who are seeking to take action on critical feedback to improve their ability to work with grantees and make impactful change.

Forming Insights and Planning

As we dove into the initial Grantee Perception Report in 2019, we sought to first build a shared understanding of the findings and explore root causes for specific grantee feedback. We approached this in several ways:

  • Organization-Wide Conversation: We shared the full report with our entire team so everyone could be knowledgeable and lean into curiosity about the results. We then invited CEP to present the results to our team to ensure we understood them and asked clarifying questions to operate from a common understanding.
  • Leadership Meetings: Our leadership team discussed the report using exercises like See-Think-Wonder to both confirm what we learned and identify questions we hoped to explore further.
  • Departmental-Level & Individual Reflection: We used department meetings to dive deeper into the most relevant aspects of the report. Program officers received individualized reports that they used to better understand feedback amongst their grantees, allowing them to identify areas of strength and opportunities for improvement with grantee relationships.
  • Board Engagement: We reviewed the key findings with our trustees to share and receive feedback on priority areas to focus our attention for improvement.

Our team was grateful but humbled by what we uncovered throughout this process. The discussions revealed disappointment about some of the results and a commitment to do better on behalf of our grantees in the future. The time spent reflecting on the data helped us generate a deeper understanding of our work and clearer hypotheses about the factors causing lower performance on several questions in the survey.

Read the full article about humbling lessons by Anu Malipatil and Jon Sotsky at The Center for Effective Philanthropy.