MENLO PARK, Calif. – The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation has released the results of a Grantee Perception Report conducted by the Center for Effective Philanthropy. The report, commissioned by the Hewlett Foundation, allowed grantees to give confidential feedback about their experiences working with the Hewlett Foundation and its staff.
“We believe that success in the field of philanthropy requires transparency and a real desire to learn about what works and what needs strengthening,” said Hewlett Foundation President Paul Brest. “We’re taking an honest, serious look at how we can best achieve our goal of being an effective grantmaking organization, and we’re using our grantees’ input to better understand how to do this.”
As part of its research, The Center for Effective Philanthropy surveyed over 5,300 organizations that received grants from a total of 28 foundations. The organizations surveyed included 367 Hewlett Foundation grantees. By surveying grantees of many foundations, the Grantee Perception Report allows a foundation to see how it compares to other grantmakers. Two hundred sixty nine of the Hewlett Foundation’s grantees responded to the survey (a Hewlett grantee response rate of 73%), which was conducted from September to October of 2003.
The Center for Effective Philanthropy, a nonprofit research organization serving foundation leaders, asked grantees to rate foundations on a variety of criteria, including their satisfaction with the Foundation, its impact on grantees’ field of work, and the Foundation’s clarity of communications, among many other topics.
The Hewlett Foundation received high marks on the impact it has on its chosen fields, as well as for the expertise of its program staff. Grantees were less positive about the Foundation’s grant selection process, which was perceived to be much more rigorous but less helpful than that required by other foundations, and they felt that the Foundation could do a better job of communicating its goals and strategies.
A summary of the 2003 Grantee Perception Report is available here. More information on the Grantee Perception Report process is available from the Center for Effective Philanthropy at www.effectivephilanthropy.org.
About the Hewlett Foundation
The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation has been making grants since 1967 to improve the quality of life of people at home and around the world. The Foundation concentrates its resources on activities in education, environment, performing arts, population, conflict resolution, and U.S.-Latin American relations. In addition, the Foundation has initiatives supporting neighborhood improvement, philanthropy, and global affairs.
The Foundation’s work is informed by three fundamental values:
First, the Hewlett Foundation is concerned primarily with solving social and environmental problems. This requires that staff defines program objectives, grants, and other activities in terms of problems to be solved; identify indicators of progress and criteria for evaluating success; and be prepared to stay the course.
Second, the solutions to serious problems are seldom known with anything close to certainty. The Foundation must therefore be prepared to experiment and take risks in its philanthropic activities. This, too, entails clear objectives and measures of success, without which staff cannot know how the risk eventuated. It also requires a willingness to acknowledge and learn from failures.
Third, grantee institutions – nonprofit organizations and, in some cases, government entities – are essential partners in achieving the Foundation’s mission. This explains the high proportion of the Foundation’s grants budget allocated to general operating support. It also implies a concern not only for the health of individual organizations, but for the fields in which they operate.
About the Center for Effective Philanthropy
The Center for Effective Philanthropy is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to advancing the practice of philanthropy by providing management and governance tools to define, assess, and improve overall foundation performance.