A great way to develop and enhance your grantmaking program, process, and communications is to ask grantees and grantseekers for feedback. There are a few ways you can do this:
Conduct a facilitated discussion
You might convene grantees periodically over a breakfast or lunch to ask for feedback. You can plan these sessions as a way for grantees to share experiences about their work in the community, as well as offer comments and suggestions to the foundation. Depending on the culture, you may or may not receive honest feedback.
You can solicit feedback with a simple questionnaire that grantees can complete anonymously if they wish. You might ask questions to gauge grantee perceptions and the impact of the foundation’s programs and operations. For example: Once a grant period ends, consider asking grantees for feedback about how easy and efficient it was to:
- Find out about your funding interests and application process;
- Apply for a grant;
- Report on the grant;
- Correspond with the foundation in general, and have questions answered; and
- Get help from the foundation beyond grants (if appropriate).
Once you get surveys back from grantees, your board can review the feedback and discuss how to interpret and use it.
Survey unsuccessful grantseekers
Some foundations even mail surveys to all grantseekers who applied to the program, and were denied funding. In an anonymous survey, you might ask: How did you hear about our foundation? What factors influenced your decision to apply? What was the impact (on you, your staff and/or board) of your not being selected for the award? Would you consider reapplying? Why or why not? What comments do you have on the application process itself?
Not only can such feedback be invaluable in helping you develop your process, but it also sends grantees and grantseekers a message—that you care what they think!