Based on a survey conducted by the Center for Effective Philanthropy, the second such survey commissioned by the foundation since 2008, the report gives the foundation high marks for its communications efforts, placing it in the 89th percentile among a cohort of similar funders, a significant improvement from 2008, with 96 percent of survey respondents saying the foundation had clearly communicated its strategic plan, and 93 percent saying they understood what the foundation was seeking to accomplish — including its new focus on advancing racial/ethnic equity. At the same time, the survey found that only 64 percent of respondents felt that foundation staff had the background and skills needed to help advance equity, and only 45 percent felt the same about the foundation's board. As part of its efforts to become a better advocate for equity, the foundation expects to recruit new board members with the necessary background and skills.
While the foundation also was rated highly in terms of its transparency (73rd percentile) and improved its rating in the areas of staff responsiveness (59th percentile) and funder-grantee relationships (82nd percentile), its rankings in the areas of impact on grantees' organizations, communities, and fields; helpfulness of the grantee selection process; and reporting and evaluation process all fell from 2008 levels, with 96 percent of respondents saying the foundation has been an effective leader in the Greater Washington area, but Maryland and Virginia grantees reporting that they felt the foundation created less impact in their communities.
In addition, many respondents reported a low level of program staff engagement around final reports and efforts to assess the results of the grantees' work. As one of its priorities in the new year, the foundation will work to clarify its approach to evaluation and measuring impact, share that information more broadly, and create opportunities for capacity building around evaluation.