Kresge Foundation Implements Procedures to Enhance Responsiveness

The Kresge Foundation in Troy, Michigan, has announced that it has implemented new procedures and protocols designed to enhance its responsiveness to grantees and applicants.

Based on the results of a Grantee Perception survey (204 pages, PDF) administered by the Center for Effective Philanthropy in 2014 — the third such survey conducted by CEP for Kresge — the new procedures are designed to improve the clarity and consistency of the foundation's communications and strengthen its relationships with its grantees. To that end, the foundation has developed thirteen priorities with respect to improving policies, procedures, and practices in the areas of clarity, transparency, responsiveness, and norms. To enhance clarity in the foundation's communications, for example, each program area has simplified its program description, further detailed its investment focus areas, identified the types of work it seeks to fund, and explained the funding process on the foundation's website. The foundation also has expanded its External Affairs and Communications team so as to share information more regularly with grantees and partners.

In the area of transparency, Kresge is working "to use simplified, less jargony, and more straight-forward language" for grant agreements, declination letters, and grant reporting templates. To improve responsiveness to communications from potential grantees, the foundation has adopted response-time protocols across the life cycle of a grant — from general inquiries, to letters of inquiry, to proposals, while in the area of norms it is working to establish a formal transition process for when a program officer moves to a different role or leaves the foundation so as to avoid an interruption in grantee communications.

As part of what Kresge Foundation president and CEO Rip Rapson called "the most active response to grantee perception input that Kresge has undertaken," the foundation also will institute a real-time survey of some of its grantees every six months that will be  shorter than the full tri-annual Grantee Perception Report conducted by CEP but will enable grantees and partners to provide more frequent feedback to the foundation with the same level of anonymity.

"For Kresge, the reports will offer a 'pulse' to measure how our actions to improve clarity, transparency, responsiveness, and norms are taking hold," Rapson wrote in announcing the new procedures. "And perhaps even more importantly, they will allow us to be nimble and responsive, enabling us to recalibrate in smaller doses and at shorter intervals."