2005 Grantee Perception Report

In the fall of 2004, we decided it was time to hear in depth from the grantee community—to systematically gather data about grantee perceptions of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and their experiences working with us. To ensure objectivity, we engaged the Center for Effective Philanthropy ("the Center") to conduct confidential third-party surveys of our current grantees as well as recent unsuccessful grant seekers. Sixty-eight percent of our grantees and 38 percent of unsuccessful grant seekers completed detailed questionnaires covering virtually all aspects of our work. During 2003 and 2004, the Center conducted similar surveys for 117 foundations, permitting comparative analysis of RBF performance relative to that of a broad sample of foundations. We are grateful to the individuals and organizations that contributed their time to participate in the survey process—the feedback has been enormously valuable. 

Report Highlights

Overall, the survey confirms a generally positive perception of the RBF in the grantee community. Grantees rank their overall satisfaction with RBF highly and well above the median score for the 117 foundations in the survey universe. The data also indicates several areas where we need to focus more attention. Here are some highlights from the Grantee Perception Report:

  • Grantees rate the RBF well above the 75th percentile in efforts to help grantees to secure additional funding from other sources.
  • We are seen as having a greater understanding of the fields in which we make grants than the median rank for foundations in the survey universe.
  • Grantees appreciate site visits by staff and would like us to visit them more frequently and for longer interactions.
  • We need to improve our efforts to respond to letters, e-mails and phone calls in a timely manner.
  • Both grantees and unsuccessful applicants rate the RBF rather poorly with regard to the clarity of our communications about our goals and strategies, placing us just above the 25th percentile.


The Grantee Perception Report provides a useful snapshot of how well RBF is doing and highlights important areas where we need to improve. From the revision of our program guidelines to improving the timeliness of our communications, we are taking several steps to improve how we work with the grantee community. As we move forward in these efforts, we welcome continuous feedback from grant seekers, current grantees, our peers in the foundation community, and other interested observers. We also encourage you to read the Message from the President in the 2004 Annual Report. This essay addresses the grantee survey and describes in some detail the RBF's particular approach to grantmaking and our broader efforts to serve the grantee community.