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Valuable Feedback from Our Partners – CEP Survey Results

Posted on July 1, 2013 by David Farren

By David Farren

Innovative, collaborative and impactful – those are worthy aspirations for any foundation.  Last fall, the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation completed a grantee and stakeholder survey with the Center for Effective Philanthropy-our third effort over the past decade to solicit feedback.

Our heartfelt thanks to all those who completed the anonymous surveys. They are an important tool for us and, as the new executive director at GDDF, your feedback is particularly valuable for me.

CEP logo

High Marks for Understanding, Focus and Impact

We were gratified that the Foundation ranked very highly in both the grantee perception and stakeholder surveys. Grantees rated the Foundation highly for its impact on and understanding of their fields – the highest of our cohort of regional funders, and significantly higher than our ratings in past surveys. Also, our ratings for understanding grantee organizations’ goals greatly improved from past surveys. 

Equally encouraging, we rated at the very top level in stakeholders’ impressions, which surveyed our conservation work in the two regions. The targeted nature of GDDF’s strategy is viewed positively by many stakeholders and several cite “focus” as our greatest strength.

We are Listening on the Areas for Further Improvement

While we are pleased with the positive response, there is always room for improvement. Since CEP’s presentation to our board in March, we have been chewing over all of the feedback, and we are now ready to share our thoughts about further enhancing our relationships with both grantees and other stakeholders.

On comfort approaching the Foundation, our Chicago ratings dropped from past years. This may have been due, in part, to several staff and consultant changes in the year prior to the survey. But it’s also true that with over 150 arts grantees in Chicago, we sometimes find it challenging to maintain optimum contact with everyone.

To address this, we are pleased to be adding a new arts Program Officer in Chicago later this year, and also fine tuning a revised artistic vitality strategy overall, which will give grantees many more touch points with the Foundation. These will include technical assistance workshops and informal gatherings, among other voluntary offerings. We are also actively exploring the opening of an office in Charleston for the first time, to better serve the bulk of our arts and conservation partners who are located there. 

The helpfulness of our reporting and evaluation processes fell since our 2009 survey. Most grantees are repeat applicants – 96% of those surveyed in 2012 had received prior support from GDDF – and having reports due after a new proposal has been submitted has never worked well. Based on the success of the arts re-application process which we started in 2006, we will implement a similar approach with all other grantees by 2014.

Finally, we want to do more to continue to improve communications across the board. The website rated highly for providing valuable content, so we’ll continue to use that as our main tool to stay in touch with all of you. We will also consider more e-newsletters and the selective use of social media where we see opportunity.  More broadly, our partners in both regions are challenging us to have higher visibility in our two mission areas. We can use these and other tools to become more public about our leadership in support of our dual passions.

We've included PDFs of the full Grantee and Stakeholder reports below.

2013 Grantee Perception Report

2013 Stakeholder Assessment Report


I think it is great that the Donnelley Foundation seeks this feedback, acts on it, and publicizes the actions you intend to take.  Mark

— Mark Robertson July 2, 2013

Thank you for the opportunity to provide feedback AND for sharing the synopsis of the results and the PDFs.  I already feel more connected with GDDF!

You alluded to perhaps opening an office in Charleston.  That’s a very exciting idea.  Please keep me posted.—Tish

Tish Lynn July 2, 2013

Great to see the foundation using an “Adaptive Management” process, just they way we do in natural areas restoration!  I applaud your efforts to always be improving!  Thanks for helping protect our natural heritage!

— Brian Anderson July 2, 2013

Thanks a million for checking in with all of us. It’s been an absolute joy working with GDDF for well over a decade. Thanks for all you do.

Nicole Barker July 3, 2013

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