We take feedback from our grantee partners seriously. So we were encouraged when we recently received this feedback:
In the history of our organization, the IAF has been the best donor. Beyond monetary contributions, it has had a positive impact on our processes for information transparency, accountability, and systematization.
We seek to be responsive to vulnerable and underserved communities, and it’s important for us to get externally-validated information about how we’re doing on that front. Every three years, we work with the Center for Effective Philanthropy (CEP), which independently surveys our grantees about their perspectives on how we work as a funder.
Here are six important scores from our latest CEP survey that placed the IAF in the top 5% of funders:
1. Positive Impact
IAF grantees rated our impact on their field and local community as “significantly positive,” placing us in the top 1% of CEP’s funder database. This can probably be attributed in part to the fact that the IAF provides strong forms of non-monetary, field-focused support to grantees (at double the rate of the average funder). According to the CEP, providing multi-year unrestricted funding and strong technical accompaniment is associated with higher scores in this area.
2. Mutual Trust
Not only did our grantees express feeling they were being treated fairly and were comfortable reaching out to IAF staff when they encountered difficulties, they also felt strongly that IAF staff trusted and respected them.
In the words of one representative, “Relationships with the IAF are based on trust. The IAF respected the projects and methodology we presented, and also gave critical feedback that has allowed us to grow and improve our services, giving them a more profound community dimension.”
Another grantee wrote, “[The IAF] is one of the donors that we believe is most key to our institutional work. We want to highlight the kindness… and horizontality… shown at all times by the IAF team, in our written communications, field visits, and evaluations.
3. Strong Connections
The IAF provides technical assistance and non-monetary support in addition to funding. In 2020, more than half of our grantees contacted their program officer once a month or more—nearly double what is typical at comparable foundations. This may explain why our grantees have consistently given us top scores for our awareness of the challenges faced by their organizations and their progress in overcoming difficulties.
4. Openness and Transparency
The IAF is the CEP’s highest-rated foundation for transparency with grantees and openness to grantees’ ideas. This is particularly important to us. As an independent U.S. government agency, we strive to be transparent to both our grantee partners and the American public.
5. Helpful Selection Processes
Our grantees considered that our selection process, though lengthy, had helped them strengthen their organization. We’ve been the highest-rated funder in the CEP’s dataset for their past three evaluations in this area, setting a new high mark.
Grantees shared that the selection process “allows us to reflect and improve” and “allowed us to grow as an institution.” Another viewed it as “useful and instructive.” The robust process also ensures we are able to select the most promising local partners.
6. Useful Evaluations
Grantees believed that our approach to monitoring, while time-consuming, provides useful insights for improving their own work and reporting their results to other organizations.
In their words, “We feel accompanied in the best way, and so we are fully transparent about how we’ve used resources and achieved results.”
Another grantee partner said, “The experience, knowledge, empathy, and professionalism of IAF staff is what we value most. It’s not just oversight and evaluation; they share their knowledge of the issues, which has been a great contribution to the organization.”
We strive every day to be worthy of our grantee partners’ regard. Here’s to another great year of partnership and collaboration.