Your Feedback Matters

At the Cleveland Foundation, we want you to know about us. We have a lot to share and a lot to teach, and many ways to help our community and our society. But we also have a lot to learn from you – from our community – about ways we can do a better job as a leader, a partner, a funder, a friend. That accountability has earned its own buzzword today: transparency.

We consider transparency to be more than a buzzword or a trendy concept. As a public foundation serving the public’s needs with the public’s money, we consider transparency a duty – and an opportunity.

We, like you, want to know what we do well, and where we need to improve.

That quest is why we commissioned the Center for Effective Philanthropy in 2009 to seek out anonymous but meaningful feedback for us from 400 of our grantees – nonprofit partners whose work we help to fund with our grant dollars.

The center compiled the agencies’ evaluations into a report card called a Grantee Perception Report. It shows how our grantees grade us, and how our grades stack up against the scores that hundreds of other foundations across the nation have received from their grantees. 

Here are highlights of what it tells us:

We’re a powerful regional leader that does a better job than most comparable foundations in the country in many key areas. Among them: helping to shape our community’s future, setting priorities, teaching nonprofits how to succeed, and helping them grow and strengthen their programs.

We understand needs and offer expertise, as well as money. We’re pretty clear in communicating what we need and expect when making grants, and we’re often very good at helping agencies get more money from other grantmakers.

Additional resources:

Foundation Center – Check out its Glasspockets website, which showcases online transparency and accountability practices of the largest foundations.

But we have room to improve. We tend to give the most attention and expertise to agencies that get big grants from us, and smaller grantees say they need more of our guidance. We need to be clearer about where our funding priorities lie. Some of our procedures are cumbersome for grantees.

On balance, we’re good at doing good and the Grantee Perception Report will guide us toward continuous improvement and excellence.

How do you think we’re doing? Do you have suggestions about how we can improve? We welcome your feedback, too.

And as a further reflection of our commitment to transparency, we invite you to check out additional data below, and to learn more about the standards of accountability and transparency by which foundations should be judged.