To embrace an understatement, the past two years have been a lot. To deal, many of us have reached for comfort in the form of sugary cerealindoor plants, Disney movies, and the like. For my part, I have become unapologetically obsessed with Encanto, Disney’s recent animated hit. In Encanto, Mirabel, the only Madrigal family member who was not blessed with a magical gift, does everything in her power to protect her family and the miracle they rely on.

Part of why Encanto resonates with me is because the desire to cling to miracles at all costs feels very prevalent in philanthropy. As Center for Effective Philanthropy (CEP) President Phil Buchanan said in a recent blog post, “we’ve seen more change in how foundation leaders approach their work in the past two years than in the previous two decades combined.” It’s a miracle! In a CEP report released last year, Foundations Respond to Crisis: Lasting Change?, we found that many foundations have started making changes to alleviate the pain points that nonprofits have been experiencing for decades. For many, this included finally rethinking the reporting process. For so long, we acted as though the receipt of funding was a miracle and the reporting process, though arduous and at times overwhelming, was just how we earned it. But maybe there’s another way — and hopefully these changes will indeed last.

As my colleague, Kevin Bolduc, pointed out in the fall of 2021, reporting processes in their historical form could largely be done away with. They were time consuming, labor intensive, and not particularly beneficial to grantees or foundations. In his post, Kevin describes grantees spending an average of 30 hours on reporting processes throughout the course of a grant. That’s 30 hours that are not being spent on mission furthering work. This isn’t a new development. More than a decade ago, in our 2011 report, Grantees Report Back, we found that the typical grantee was spending 20 hours, on average, on tasks related to monitoring, reporting, and evaluation. If anything, until recently, calls to revisit the reporting process, or better yet skip it altogether, had gone unanswered.

Read the full article about reimagining the reporting process by Satia Marotta at The Center for Effective Philanthropy.