EMCF’s Jehan Velji, Portfolio Manager and Director of Portfolio Strategy, discusses that ultimately, better listening will ground us in reality while we try to address the needs of the people we seek to help and build a more just society. This focus on feedback is one aspect of the EMCF portfolio management approach that Blue Meridian has adopted.

Now, more than ever, listening to grantees and program beneficiaries is critical to funders’ ability to make a difference on the issues we care about. In Shifting Winds, a new report from CEP about how foundations are considering adjusting their work in response to the new presidential administration and its stated priorities, 36 percent of foundation CEOs responding to a survey mentioned seeking input from grantees as an area where their foundations plan to increase emphasis, and 23 percent reported seeking input from their ultimate beneficiaries as an area to increase emphasis.

While this is encouraging, the numbers are lower than I expected, given findings from another recent CEP study that also captured perceptions of foundation leaders. Released in December 2016, The Future of Foundation Philanthropynoted that seven out of ten CEOs believe that the best way to increase foundations’ impact in the coming decades is for grant makers to seek to learn from the experiences of those they are ultimately trying to help. Foundation CEOs also saw promise in learning from grantee experiences and supporting grantees to learn from their beneficiaries — these practices were cited by 67 percent and 45 percent of the respondents, respectively.

While some foundations feel an urgency to act, others are waiting and seeing, and still others are continuing with their current focus and commitment, the Shifting Winds report shows. I believe, though, that we all need to invest now in learning how to listen better to the people we seek to help — and to the organizations we support to help those people.

Read the full article about listening by Jehan Velji at The Center for Effective Philanthropy.