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The REACH Foundation is committed to continuous improvement and incorporating grantee input into our operations and strategy. In 2022, the foundation once again turned to the Center for Effective Philanthropy (CEP) to help us gather grantee feedback. CEP implemented a grantee perception survey for REACH in 2016, 2019 and again in 2022, allowing the foundation to compare results across time and relative to other foundations in our region and nationally. The CEP survey gathers insights from grantees about the foundation’s grantmaking processes, understanding of their fields, strength of our relationship-building efforts, and clarity of communications.
The CEP survey was sent to 81 grantees in early 2022; 58 individuals responded for a 72% response rate.
When CEP conducted the first survey for REACH in 2016, the foundation was in its first year of a new strategic plan that organized grantmaking around three primary outcome areas. That first year’s feedback provided clear and actionable suggestions about how the foundation could improve its processes and engagement with grantee partners. Subsequent responses provided in 2019 indicated marked improvements in a number of areas, and helped the Board of Directors and staff understand what grantees experienced and valued, as well as additional areas that required attention and change. CEP completed our 2022 survey this spring; 58 grantees completed the survey for an impressive 72% response rate, higher than the two prior surveys.
The 2022 results were compared to ratings from the foundation’s 2019 and 2016 surveys, and also against a dataset of more than 300 foundations. REACH also selected a smaller comparison group of 16 regional and national funders that resemble REACH in their scope of work and size.
The results from 2022 were very encouraging. We saw significant improvement in a number of survey topics from our last survey in 2019. We’re pleased to see that intentional changes in foundation grantmaking requirements and practices – some accelerated during the pandemic – made a difference in the tenor of our relationships with grantees and their views of REACH as a thought partner and advocate for the health and social issues and operational challenges they face.
Following are a few highlights from the survey results.
The survey pinpointed areas that require our constant diligence and attention, such as how the foundation can more firmly center diversity, equity and inclusion in its funding and approach. Grantees provided helpful rankings of tactics that would help advance racial equity in REACH’s work or in the communities we serve. Importantly, organizations that received non-monetary support as well as grant funding rated REACH higher on several measures. For us, this reinforced the value of engagement and reaffirms the foundation’s Board of Directors’ longstanding commitment to capacity building and leveraging of both human and financial resources in service to community.
Over the last three years, REACH has taken deliberate steps to revise grant requirements, such as simplifying grant application forms and reporting requirements. The foundation also has undertaken internal processes to identify procedures and actions that have reinforced barriers to foundation resources.
New benchmarking tools have been identified by the foundation’s board to gauge our impact and bring greater focus to our role in advancing equity through our regional grant investments.
“We are appreciative of the feedback and especially the narrative comments, which we use to identify new ways to dismantle barriers and inequitable practices in both health philanthropy and the regional health and healthcare ecosystem,” said REACH President and CEO Brenda Sharpe.
“The survey results, along with ongoing conversations staff have with community partners, informs our daily work as REACH strives to more powerfully center equity throughout our organization.”
Read the REACH Foundation CEP report.