2015 Grantee Perception Report

A Message About our Grantee Survey Results


Jen Rainin, CEO

Jen Rainin, CEO, Kenneth Rainin Foundation

January 2016

The Kenneth Rainin Foundation recently received the results of our very first Grantee Perception Survey, conducted on our behalf by the Center for Effective Philanthropy, to evaluate how we are doing. We are thrilled by the overwhelmingly positive scores we received. This is a very proud moment for us, individually and collectively. As a young foundation, we are heartened to hear that we are serving our grantees so well. Highlights from our report follow. 

First, thank you to everyone who participated in the survey—a remarkable 69% of our grantees responded. The input we gathered is valuable because it lets us know how we can better serve our grantees and partners, and informs our program strategies. We are always looking for feedback and suggestions to make sure we are addressing grantee needs and the needs of the community as effectively as possible. We appreciate grantee responses to the survey, especially the insightful comments.

Second, when we invest in an organizations’ work, we commit to advancing our shared goals. Candid feedback from our grantees helps us determine whether there’s alignment between our aspirations of the type of foundation we want to be and grantee experiences with us. It also tells us if the innovative approaches we are implementing are paying off or if we need to make adjustments.

Finally, we are very happy to report that we ranked in the highest percentiles in the vast majority of categories. The Center for Effective Philanthropy has used the same grantee survey for over 300 foundations. The data they have collected over the years allows us to compare ourselves to other funders throughout the country. It’s always gratifying to receive an A+. And please know that where the report showed room for growth, we are implementing changes. We listen and we respond to be the best partner we can be.


Highlights from our Grantee Perception Report

We received higher than typical ratings for funder-grantee relationships and ranked in the top 85% of funders for all aspects of work in grantee fields, including:

  • Impact on and understanding of grantee fields.
  • Advancement of knowledge in grantee fields.
  • Effect on public policy.

Grantees said:

  • Our content knowledge helps them do great work.
  • They value our time together as thought partners.
  • They appreciate our responsiveness and fairness, and are comfortable reaching out to us.
  • They perceive us to be “supportive, bold, innovative and forward-thinking.”

Some of our favorite quotes include:

  • “The Foundation in my mind is leading the field locally. They are unafraid to experiment and try initiatives…”
  • “The Foundation really connects people working on education issues, including their grantees as well as other community members…to collaborate more effectively.”
  • “The Foundation’s commitment to supporting non-traditional art forms and emerging artists is crucial…and is hopefully a model that other funders are taking note of and adopting.”
  • “The Foundation provides support beyond that of funding. It creates a community of researchers dedicated to [Inflammatory Bowel Disease] IBD that is extremely helpful with networking.”

There are some areas where grantees would like better support from us. 

Grantees told us that:

  • They want to better understand our grantmaking processes and criteria for selecting grants.
  • They want more contact with program staff and feel that they would benefit from more interaction.
  • More operating support was needed, while others asked for increased project/program funds.

Observations include:

  • “We have found it difficult to ascertain why some projects have been funded and others have not. It would be helpful to…better understand which of our projects are ‘good matches’.”
  • “All the grants are short-term, which helps kick start more projects but there is a need for sustained funding beyond 1-2 years…”
  • “I wish an officer of the foundation had initiated contact with me…during the application process…I had no idea that the foundation had an interest in doing this.”

Overall, the survey results were very informative, and have helped us recalibrate how we work and communicate. In the near future, grantees can expect:

  • Program specific e-newsletters and blogs that share updates from staff and perspectives.
  • Implementation of a new grants management system to make the application and reporting processes clear and efficient.
  • Reorganization and revision of website content to better articulate opportunities for partnership, clarify our grantmaking and make it easier to find information.
  • Contact from program staff during the grant term.
  • Possible changes to how program areas approach operational support.gpr participant image

The full results of our survey are available for download:

The Rainin Foundation is committed to continuously improving the way we work and deeply value feedback as part of this process. We are grateful to all who participated in the survey and welcome continued conversations. Your thoughts and observations are important because they contribute to our grantmaking and the future direction of our programs. Please contact us if you have questions or comments about this survey and our efforts to learn from them.

With warm regards,

-Jennifer Rainin, CEO
Kenneth Rainin Foundation



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