I described in my last letter some of the institutional planning work underway at the Irvine Foundation this year. Related to that effort, and as part of our continuing commitment to learning from the Foundation’s various stakeholders, we conducted a stakeholder assessment survey to receive feedback about our work. I am using this quarter’s letter to share more about this survey as well as what we learned from it.
In-depth, confidential interviews were conducted by a third-party consultant with more than 60 leaders in our fields of work, the nonprofit community in general, and philanthropy. The interview questions focused on awareness and perceptions of the Irvine Foundation; the perceived impact of our work, broadly and in [our program areas;](grantmaking/our-programs) and feedback on direct experience and interactions with the Foundation. We also asked questions about the challenges and opportunities facing California.
Because we intentionally sought the perspectives of stakeholders who know Irvine’s work well, it was no surprise that the general tone of the feedback was both positive and supportive. At the same time, these stakeholders were able to offer substantive and constructive suggestions that will help the Foundation improve our efforts going forward.
I wanted to share with you some of the key themes that emerged from the feedback as well as from subsequent discussions with our board and staff:
These themes were particularly timely because they resonate well with some of the topics and ideas that have emerged internally through the planning discussions we are engaged in this year. As we develop recommendations for structural and strategic refinements in 2013 with the goal of increasing impact, we will be attentive to opportunities to improve the clarity of our communications at all levels, experiment with more innovative approaches for greater impact, and ensure a collaborative approach to working with grantee partners and stakeholders.
As always, I welcome your suggestions as well. If any of the observations above prompt your own thoughts, encouragements or critiques, I would urge you to share them with us. I know that our effectiveness as a Foundation is enhanced by our ability to listen, to learn and to adapt. It is in that spirit that we conducted this survey, and it is in that spirit that we invite your ideas as well.
Thank you for your continued interest in the work of the Irvine Foundation.
James E. Canales
President and CEO