Educators talking at Barr event

The Importance of Candid Feedback

Barr’s VP of Strategy and Programs on why we seek (and share) grantee feedback on what it’s like to work with us.

Every few years since 2003, Barr has participated in the Center for Effective Philanthropy (CEP)’s Grantee Perception Report (GPR). The GPR provides a way for grantees to provide confidential, anonymous feedback to the foundations that support them. This spring, we are contracting CEP to once again conduct this survey with our grantees, and I wanted to provide some perspective on what the GPR is, why we participate, and how we use the results to guide our continuing efforts to be a better partner to our grantees.

Simply put, the GPR is a way for nonprofits to share honest feedback about what it’s like to work with their funders. The GPR has been honed through implementation with thousands of nonprofits and hundreds of foundations, and we have found it to be enormously helpful. It has enabled us to look critically at our practice, and to find concrete ways to be better partners.

To encourage candid feedback, CEP maintains complete confidentiality of grantee responses and provides an aggregate of the feedback for Barr. Importantly, CEP provides comparisons of that data with results from peer foundations. This comparative data helps us to understand the data in both absolute and relative terms. Survey questions probe grantee perceptions of a foundation’s transparency, communications, interactions, strategies, and impact. We have also asked CEP to include a small number of custom questions to help us get feedback on specific areas such as Barr’s focus on racial equity and the range of support we provide "beyond the grant”.

For the Barr Foundation, how we do our work is just as important as what we do.

We take the survey results seriously. As we have in the past, we will discuss the results as a staff and with our trustees, working to identify opportunities to build on what’s working and to identify ways for ongoing improvement. We also post the results publicly on our GPR page, including a summary of the steps we intend to take as a result of the feedback.

For the Barr Foundation, how we do our work is just as important as what we do. Surveys can never take the place of honest, open, ongoing dialogue that occur when relationships are rooted in trust and respect. It is always our aim to cultivate those kinds of relationships. Nonetheless, we believe the GPR is a valuable source of data to inform how we do our work. We are grateful to all who will dedicate the time to completing the CEP survey, and we look forward to sharing the feedback we receive.

comments powered by Disqus