Can Feedback Fuel Change at Foundations?

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) is committed to assessing and communicating about the impact of its work.

An important part of their organizational assessment work is the Foundation's relationship with its partners—its grantees. Although RWJF had conducted surveys of it grantees for many years as part of its annual performance assessment, it wasn’t until 2004 when they commissioned the Center for Effective Philanthropy (CEP) to conduct the Grantee Perception Report® (GPR) that the Foundation's leadership felt they had received meaningful information from their grantees’ perspective. The GPR is a tool developed by CEP to solicit information from grantees on funders' performance.

This brief report, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation: Frequent Checkups Make for Healthier Funding Relationships, presents key findings about RWJF's GPRs over the years, and includes candid comments by RWJF's leadership—CEO Risa Lavizzo-Mourey and Vice President of Research and Evaluation, David Colby—as to how they've responded to some of those findings.

In the full report, Can Feedback Fuel Change at Foundation?, CEP highlights some other foundations who have also commissioned the GPR, and how each organization has used the GPR to drive change and achieve impact within and beyond their individual organizations.

Lavizzo-Mourey notes that the GPR helps RWJF to set priorities and helps her to keep the Foundation focused on those priority areas.