Listening Carefully: An Argument for Considering All the Data

This is a guest post by Kevin Bolduc. It was originally published on the Dorothy A. Johnson Center for Philanthropy’s blog.

A few weeks ago, I was chatting with a vice president of a foundation that my organization, the Center for Effective Philanthropy (CEP), has worked with over the course of many years. As we caught up, she interjected, “Remember the time that you were presenting the results of our first grantee survey and you shared a grantee comment that called our processes ‘onerous’ and ‘meddling?’”

I did remember: it was challenging feedback made by a clearly angry recipient of the foundation’s funding. This vice president’s comment, though, took me by surprise. It had been years ago, and we’d worked with her on other grantee surveys in the time since then. She continued, describing how surprised she and her colleagues had been, though they ultimately took it as a call to action and consequently made some changes in their work. Subsequent surveys showed that this funder had stronger relationships with grantees and was increasingly seen to be creating significant impact on the fields in which it funded. You’d be unlikely to find them described as onerous and meddlesome today.

Read the rest of the post here.

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