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Irvine’s 2023 Grantee Perception Report

In spring 2023, we partnered with the Center for Effective Philanthropy to undertake our latest Grantee Perception Report (GPR), a confidential survey of grantees that asks for feedback about our relationships with them, grantmaking processes, impact, and practices related to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI), including racial equity.  

The report also provides a benchmark comparison to peer funders, which together with grantees’ candid feedback, helps us assess our strengths and areas of improvement so we can be better partners, particularly as we work to advance equity. 

2023 Key Findings 

Almost 90% of the survey responses trended positively compared to our 2020 findings, and, with a few exceptions, our scores were above the median of peer foundations. We were glad to see the steps we took in response to the 2020 GPR results resulted in notable improvements, including efforts to improve communication with grantees, more fully fund indirect costs, and communicate publicly about our racial equity commitments and work related to DEI.  

This GPR is the first since Irvine’s Board of Directors approved our racial equity case statement that outlines our beliefs and commitments to advance racial equity. Since then, we have focused on implementing those commitments, including developing racial equity principles and goals to guide our grantmaking and operations.  

We were grateful to see that, overall, grantees are appreciative of our DEI efforts. For example, grantees gave higher-than-typical ratings for their agreement that most staff they interacted with embody a strong commitment to DEI. Grantees also gave the Foundation high ratings for our explicit demonstration of our commitment to DEI and communicating what it means for our work – though these scores still lag behind our most direct peers.  

We added new questions to the survey to gauge the impact of our hybrid work-location policy on our grantee relationships. Results show the policy having a positive impact, as we are connecting with grantees in more ways than we did pre-COVID. 

As in previous years, the feedback surfaced areas that we can continue to strengthen. We are committed to taking the following actions: 

DEI and racial equity. For the first time we asked custom questions about Irvine’s racial equity efforts. While grantees believe we are committed to racial equity, they want to know more about how we’re addressing racial equity across all aspects of the Foundation and what our efforts mean for our work and theirs. Moving forward, we will continue to communicate publicly about progress on our racial equity commitments in our strategy, grantmaking, and evaluation – and share, where relevant, the implications of these efforts for grantees.  

To that end, we have kicked off a blog series sharing our work to advance racial equity and lessons learned to date. We will continue to solicit input from grantees and other partners to guide our efforts and ensure we are holding ourselves accountable to our commitments and progress. 

Gender differences. We were concerned by 2020 results showing grantee respondents identifying as women rated Irvine lower on some grantee experiences than those identifying as men. Our 2023 results showed almost no significant differences in ratings between respondents identifying as women and men, with the exception that grantees who identify as women still see Irvine as less explicitly committed to DEI and combatting racism. We hope our racial equity commitment, our ongoing racial equity efforts, and our practice of regularly communicating about this work will help eliminate this difference. We take this feedback seriously and will continue to monitor progress.  

Indirect costs. As a result of Irvine’s efforts, 70% of grantees report receiving funding that covered the full costs of their projects, up from 54% in 2020. We want to continue this upward trend by updating our indirect cost policy to ensure that more grantees can have their full costs covered. And we will ensure that all grantmaking staff have the training and tools to discuss indirect costs with grantees as needed.  

Evaluation. As compared to 2020, grantees gave Irvine lower scores for their perception that evaluation design incorporated input from their organizations. This finding directly relates to how we are operationalizing our racial equity commitment within our evaluation practices. We believe evaluation should be in service of equity and impact, and we are committed to involving more grantees in all aspects of evaluation, including design, to ensure that learning is relevant to, benefits, and informs grantees’ work as well as the Foundation’s.  

We deeply appreciate this opportunity to hear from grantees and better understand their experience with Irvine, and we thank every person who took the time to share their thoughts. We invite you to read the 2023 Grantee Perception Summary Report and the full results. You can read our previous GPRs here. 

Masthead photo credit: Joyce Xi