Warts and All: Funder Feedback Q2 Report

By: Jessamyn Shams-Lau

Cycle 5 of our Funder Feedback rounded up on June 30th. The first part of the Funder Feedback tool asks respondents to rate us out of 5 across 3 behaviours: 1) Respectfulness, 2) Consistency, 3) Value (as in value we provide in interactions). Each quarter we've been doing consistently well on "Respectfulness", and, ironically, have some small variance in "Consistency", as well as "Value". All score averages remain at 4.7 or above. This is important to us as these scores act as an early warning system. If we see them dip below 4.5 we'll start asking questions about where we're dropping the ball.

The second part of Funder Feedback (FF) asks respondents to answer a question. We change the question each quarter. Q2's question was: "Briefly describe a recent frustrating situation you had/observed with a funder (could be us or another group). What impact did that interaction have on your work and how did it make you feel? Please avoid directly identifying the funder.". We have many repeat respondents (our grantees) and I hoped that people were comfortable enough with FF at this point to be uber honest with us on this juicy question.

They were :)

There were 6 key themes that came through loud and clear. Here's what we as funders look like at our worst.

  1. Constant changes in funding priorities, process, and messaging.
  2. Vagueness about funding priorities, process, why an org wasn't a fit for funding.
  3. Lack of urgency and responsiveness, no follow up, not doing what was promised.
  4. Rudeness or unprofessional meeting behaviour, personal critique, demoralising comments.
  5. Demanding tedious and lengthy reporting, arbitrary guidelines, lengthy and costly grant negotiations.
  6. Ignorance about what we actually need and do, lack of trust, lack of humility.

Phew. Not a pretty picture. But true enough. Luckily most people don't like to give critique without encouragement too. Our respondents are no different. There were also 6 themes people raised about what they appreciate and like to see their funders do. It's a great list of what funders do when we're at our best.

  • Be consistent: keep the process consistent once we're in it.
  • Be transparent: help us figure out if we're not a fit before we talk to you, and if we talk but we're not a fit help us understand and grow from our interaction so we do better in others.
  • Be respectful: do what you say you will, respect our time too.
  • Be kind: everyone appreciates kindness and courtesy.
  • Move past the "I give--you take" mentality: show genuine interest in our work, show confidence in our expertise.
  • Listen to the orgs, communities, and constituents you work with and, most importantly, act on what you hear.

So, we heard it loud and clear. And we're trying to act on it too. This is what's on our office whiteboard right now: 

I know we've been guilty of 1, 2 & 3 at times, maybe other numbers too. The Peery Foundation team will be keeping these top of mind. Thank you to all our respondents who took the time to think about this question. You're helping us hold up a mirror to ourselves so we can see ourselves better--warts and all!