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Grantee Perception Survey

2017 Grantee Perception Survey Results

Accountability, continual learning and respect for our community partners have always been among our core values. That’s why, over the past 25 years, we’ve regularly used surveys to ask our grantees for candid, anonymous feedback about our work.

We’re excited to share the results of our most recent surveys, conducted for the first time in partnership with the Center for Effective Philanthropy. In spring of 2017, we surveyed two groups of our community partners: our grantees and our declined applicants. We worked with CEP because it designs best-in-class surveys that provide funders with actionable results. Working with CEP also gave us the opportunity to benchmark our results against 250 other funders.

CEP’s analysis of the survey results provided us with insights that will ultimately help us better define, assess and improve our effectiveness as a funder. A total of 202 grantee organizations and 272 declined applicant organizations participated in the surveys. The response rates exceeded our goals, giving us high confidence in the data.

We highly value our grantees and those who wish to partner with us and have always aimed to adapt and improve as best as we can in response to what we learn from them.

Our Strengths

We're proud to report that survey respondents believe we’ve excelled in many aspects of our work. We received high marks for our impact on, and knowledge of our grantees’ fields; our transparency and openness as a funder and a partner; and our understanding of the sociocultural and socioeconomic factors impacting nonprofits.

In particular, our grantees and applicants say that we treat them fairly and understand their work and their challenges. Our grantees appreciate our consistent support for their organizational sustainability, our visionary investments in public policy, our investments in an electronic grant application system, and our efforts to streamline our processes. Even when declined, applicants reported appreciation for our staff’s feedback and advice for strengthening future proposals.

Our Opportunities

Our grantees and declined applicants flagged a few areas as needing improvement. Their feedback was invaluable and timely. After all, the needs of our grantees and of our communities are constantly changing, and we must change with them to remain effective.

  • Impact beyond grants: Grantees suggested that we increase our investments in nonmonetary support — support beyond grantmaking. They asked for more opportunities to collaborate with us, more convenings and more opportunities to build their capacity.
  • Relationship building: Both grantees and declined applicants suggested we create more opportunities for them to interact with our staff, in particular our program directors.
  • Transparency: Declined applicants asked for quicker response times to their inquiries and more clarity about why they were declined.

Our Next Steps

We’ve been working diligently to address the key areas of improvement our community partners pointed out. Below are just some examples of that work, which is ongoing.

Impact beyond grants

  • We provided capacity-building and technical assistance grants to a number of grantees as part of our Advance and Defend Wellness efforts.
  • We’re planning convenings on topics that are relevant to our grantees’ work, similar to Unlocking Power, a violence prevention conference we held last December. An upcoming convening in November 2018 for all grantees will focus on community and power building.
  • We’re investing again in our sabbatical program to support nonprofit leaders.
  • We’re raising our voices in support of our grantees and the issues they’re working on.

Relationship building

  • We moved our headquarters to downtown Los Angeles in September 2017 and will move our Northern California office to downtown Oakland in May 2018 because place matters, and our new locations make us much more accessible and available.
  • We celebrated our 25th anniversary at our new Los Angeles headquarters in November 2017 and used that opportunity to celebrate our partners and strengthen our partnerships with key stakeholders. We’ll be doing the same in our new Oakland office in 2018.
  • We're holding ongoing informal lunches between our CEO and our community partners.
  • We're expanding our public affairs and grants management efforts to better engage grantees online and to build visibility and awareness of their work.


  • We increased our responsiveness by training more staff to provide information to grantees and applicants.
  • We're looking for ways to more clearly explain why letters of interest are denied.
  • We’re encouraging our partners to schedule informal chats with our program team members in order to better understand our funding priorities.
  • We’re redesigning our website to make it easier to navigate for our grantees and applicants and to ensure that it accurately reflects our current work and priorities.
  • We’re rebuilding our grants management system from the ground up, which will help us streamline the application process and capture lessons learned – both for staff and community partners.

Looking ahead

We are committed to improving our processes and practices and are grateful to everyone who participated in the survey. We look forward to many more productive conversations with our community partners as we continue to build on strengths, and learn and improve as a result of constructive feedback.

2017 Grantee Perception Survey Results

Read the Full 2017 Report
Read the Key Findings Summary

2014 Grants Program Survey

View the 2014 Report (PDF) | View the Questionnaire (PDF)

The California Wellness Foundation commissioned outside consultants, Julia Pennbridge, Ph.D., and the National Health Foundation, to conduct the Grants Program Survey in 2014. The survey was distributed to organizations that included: grantees during 2013, organizations that applied for funding in 2013 and organizations that were denied funding in 2013. The evaluators’ report, survey results and the survey questionnaire can be accessed above.

The survey is part of the Foundation's commitment to our organizational values, in particular, learning, accountability and excellence. These regular surveys have been instrumental in our efforts to improve customer service and our approach to grantmaking.

This questionnaire is for informational purposes only. Please do not complete and mail it to the Foundation. Feedback and comments may be sent through to our general email address: [email protected].

Previous Surveys

2014 Grants Program Survey (PDF), Grants Program Questionnaire (PDF)
2010 Grants Program Survey (PDF), Grants Program Questionnaire (PDF)
2006 Grants Program Survey (PDF), Grants Program Questionnaire (PDF)
2003 Grants Program Survey (PDF), Grants Program Questionnaire (PDF)
2000 Grants Program Survey (PDF), Grants Program Questionnaire (PDF)
1997 Grants Program Survey (PDF), Grants Program Questionnaire (PDF)

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