In 2020, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation began working with the Center for Effective Philanthropy to collect demographic data that reflects some of the attributes that contribute to the diversity of our society, and provides a deeper understanding of the demographic profile of the Foundation’s staff, Trustees, and grantees. Frequently asked questions about this survey and the data being collected are below.
Demographics Survey Frequently Asked Questions
- Why is the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation conducting this survey?
- Who is the Center for Effective Philanthropy?
- What questions will the survey ask?
- How were the questions in this survey developed?
- Why did I receive this survey?
- I’ve already completed this survey, why am I being asked to do so again?
- What should I do if I believe I should have received the survey, but I have not?
- Can I forward this survey to a different colleague?
- How is the demographic data survey different from the applicant survey?
- Is my response really confidential? How will my response be used by CEP and the Foundation?
- How can I provide feedback about the survey content, methodology, or next steps?
- What if I do not want to complete this survey or receive any reminders?
- What will RWJF do with these survey results?
Why is the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation conducting this survey?
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (the Foundation) is committed to building a Culture of Health that provides everyone in America a fair and just opportunity for health and well-being. This commitment requires a recognition of the many attributes of the different individuals who make up our diverse nation. As demonstrated in our Guiding Principles and Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Commitment, we are dedicated to embedding and elevating diversity and inclusion across our work.
Historically, we have had limited information about the demographic profiles of the Foundation’s employees, Trustees, and grantees. It is crucial that we collect and make sense of this important information if we are to uphold our values. To that end, we have worked with the Center for Effective Philanthropy (CEP) to develop a survey to collect individual-level demographic data from employees, Trustees, and project directors of all grants and program contracts awarded as of 2020.
The Foundation will receive only aggregate results; the names of individual respondents and individual responses will be kept confidential by CEP. The Foundation may report aggregate findings about the demographics of its employees, Trustees, and project directors on its website or in other public spaces. While CEP may provide the Foundation with data aggregated in a number of ways, in order to guard the privacy and the confidentiality of respondents, the Foundation will not receive any subgroup analysis unless there are more than 10 respondents.
Who is the Center for Effective Philanthropy?
The Center for Effective Philanthropy (CEP) is a nonprofit organization focused on enhancing the impact of funders. CEP’s mission is to provide data and create insight so philanthropic funders can better define, assess, and improve their effectiveness and, as a result, their intended impact. You can learn more about CEP at www.cep.org. Over the last two decades, CEP has conducted numerous surveys of tens of thousands of grantees, foundation staff, and trustees across the nonprofit sector.
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation commissioned CEP to conduct this survey on its behalf.
What questions will the survey ask?
This short survey covers questions about the respondent on a number of demographic dimensions, including range of birth year, gender identity, race and ethnicity, sexual identity, and ability status. All questions provide a "prefer not to answer" option for respondents, allowing respondents to skip any survey question.
How were the questions in this survey developed?
There are many widely-accepted definitions and classifications for the ways an individual might identify. In creating the questions and definitions included in this survey, the Foundation and CEP relied on best practices drawn from a variety of sources and received feedback on drafts. Acknowledging that there is not yet one right approach to collect this information, the Foundation and CEP also wanted to ensure that all individuals are represented in the response selections, and included options to write-in an identity if preferred.
Some sources guiding the creation of this survey are:
- Recent research on the practice of demographic data collection conducted by the Psi Chi Journal of Psychological Research [“Rethinking and Updating Demographic Questions: Guidance to Improve Descriptions of Research Samples” (2016)];
- The most recent research on the practice of demographic data collection conducted by the Psi Chi Journal of Psychological Research [“Rethinking and Updating Demographic Questions: Guidance to Improve Descriptions of Research Samples” (2016)];
- The Williams Institute & Sexual Minority Assessment Research Team (SMART) [“Best Practices for Asking Questions about Sexual Orientation on Surveys” (2009)], and the UT Austin Gender and Sexuality Center;
- The practices of some of the largest collectors of demographic data in the United States, including the U.S. Census Bureau, the Pew Research Center, the National Institutes of Health, the ADA, and several public and private domestic universities;
- The practices of several organizations in the nonprofit sector that have done significant recent work in the practice of demographic data collection, including but not limited to GuideStar, Funders for LGBTQ Issues, RespectAbility and others.
Why did I receive this survey?
The Foundation is encouraging all current employees, Trustees, and project directors of grants and program contracts awarded as of January 1, 2020 to respond to this survey. Participation in this survey is voluntary.
I’ve already completed this survey, why am I being asked to do so again?
This survey was first administered in January 2020, and some recipients may recall completing the survey at that time. We are asking all employees, Trustees, and grantee project directors to complete the survey again in 2022, whether they completed it in 2020 or not, for a few important reasons:
- Because RWJF only receives aggregate demographic data, we cannot reuse previous survey responses. Survey recipients must re-complete the survey to capture up-to-date data on employee, Trustee, and grantee demographic make-ups.
- In recognition that some of the characteristics the survey asks about may have changed over time. For example, someone who identified as a person with a disability in 2020 may not identify as such in 2022.
- To deepen our understanding of demographics over time and create an opportunity to reflect on what’s changed and what hasn’t since 2020.
- What should I do if I believe I should have received the survey, but I have not?
Can I forward this survey to a different colleague?
No, please do not forward this survey. This survey is meant for you as an individual given your role in collaborating with RWJF.
How is the demographic data survey different from the applicant survey?
The Foundation is collaborating with SSRS to survey applicants of Calls for Proposals/Applications on the applicant’s experience with the application process. This survey also includes questions on applicant characteristics (both individual and organizational). Those survey findings are shared with the Foundation, in aggregate form only, to inform its future application processes and to better understand its applicant pool and how to expand and diversify the applicant pool.
The demographic data survey, being conducted by the Center for Effective Philanthropy, asks a different, but related, set of questions on individual demographic characteristics of the Foundation’s employees, Trustees, and project directors of new grants and program contracts. This survey, unlike the applicant survey, is intended to inform the Foundation’s ongoing efforts to build a Culture of Health by providing a better understanding of the demographic profile of the Foundation and those with whom it works.
Is my response really confidential? How will my response be used by CEP and the Foundation?
Your response is completely confidential. Only CEP will see your answers to these questions, and your name will not be associated with your response as CEP processes this data.
Whether or not you complete this survey is entirely up to you, and whether you do so will have no bearing on the Foundation’s engagement with you. In fact, no one will know whether or not you completed some or all or none of this survey. CEP will aggregate your response along with the information provided by other respondents and may perform cross-tabulation analyses with the data. Only aggregate findings will be reported back to the Foundation. The Foundation may report aggregate findings about the demographics of its employees, Trustees, and project directors on its website or in other public spaces.
How can I provide feedback about the survey content, methodology, or next steps?
The Foundation and CEP welcome your input about the survey. The last question in the survey provides an optional opportunity to provide written feedback. Please note that CEP will share any answer you provide directly with the Foundation. However, your response will not be connected to your name or any other answers you provided as part of the survey.
What if I do not want to complete this survey or receive any reminders?
Please keep in mind that all questions provide a "prefer not to answer" option for respondents, allowing respondents to skip any survey question. If you wish to unsubscribe from the survey list, however, please locate the survey invitation from Sae Darling at firstname.lastname@example.org and click the unsubscribe link at the bottom of the email.
What will RWJF do with these survey results?
RWJF will make use of the aggregate findings generated from this survey in two primary ways:
- Make high-level results publicly available on RWJF.org in accordance with our Guiding Principles and alignment with our commitment to being continuous learners and working alongside others to cultivate equity, diversity, and inclusion.
- To inform internal analysis, discussion, and support the development of an equity, diversity, and inclusion strategy for the Foundation.