The California Wellness Foundation has released the results of its 2017 Grantee Perception Report.
Based on a survey of grantees and declined applicants conducted by the Center for Effective Philanthropy last year, the report (119 pages, PDF) found that CalWellness received high marks for its impact on (68th percentile among grantees and 61st percentile among declined applicants) and knowledge of (73rd and 65th percentiles) its grantees' fields, understanding of their beneficiaries' needs (88th and 76th percentiles), and understanding of the social, cultural and socioeconomic factors that affect nonprofits (92nd and 60th percentiles). Grantees also rated highly the foundation's transparency (72nd percentile) and openness (78th percentile) as a funder and partner, and the extent to which it has advanced the state of knowledge in (73rd percentile) and affected public policy (85th percentile) in their fields.
At the same time, both grantees and declined applicants gave the foundation somewhat lower marks for its impact on (48th and 43rd percentiles) and understanding of (55th and 44th percentiles) local communities and consistency in its communications (44th and 45th percentiles), while only 15 percent of grantees reported receiving field-focused or comprehensive assistance (51st percentile). Grantees suggested that CalWellness could increase its investments in non-monetary support beyond grantmaking through collaborations, convenings, and capacity-building opportunities; create more opportunities for relationship building; and provide quicker responses to declined applicants and more clarity about why they were declined.
The foundation has been working to address those areas for improvement by, among other things, awarding capacity-building and technical assistance grants as part of its Advance and Defend Wellness program, moving its Los Angeles headquarters downtown and its Northern California office to Oakland, and improving staff responsiveness through training.
"As a funder, it's not our place to impose our grand ideas from above; our responsibility is to use our judgment and expertise while relentlessly listening to the communities we serve," wrote CalWellness president and CEO Judy Belk in a blog post. "We have to listen even when the feedback is not glowing and even when it doesn't meet our expectations. Actually, that's when we have to listen the hardest."