2016 Grantee and Applicant Perception Report from CEP

Earlier this year, the Center for Effective Philanthropy (CEP) surveyed the Rockefeller Brothers Fund’s grantees and declined applicants to gain insight into their perception of the Fund’s performance. This process allows core constituencies the opportunity to provide us with feedback on our work and we are committed to responding to their suggestions. CEP previously surveyed our grantees in 2005 and 2010, and these results helped us to improve our communications, grantmaking processes, and approach to assessing impact. The 2016 report is available to download as a PDF.

The Fund received positive ratings throughout the Grantee Perception Report and was rated above or similarly to the median funder in the CEP’s dataset on many measures. As in 2010 the Fund received high ratings for its impact on and understanding of grantee fields and overall relationships with grantees. The Fund also was rated very positively in the dataset for its understanding of grantee fields, ability to advance knowledge in their fields, and its effect on public policy.

Understanding and Impact

  • Grantees rated the Fund overall extremely positively for its understanding of grantee organizations and the social, cultural, and socioeconomic challenges they face in their work.
  • There was an unexpected decrease in grantee perception of the Fund’s impact on their organizations. This was surprising, particularly when coupled with very high ratings from grantees on the Fund’s awareness of challenges that grantee organizations are facing, and grantees noting that staff Fund take advantage of resources to help grantees address their challenges, from grant funds to providing non-monetary support including strategic planning and and conferences at The Pocantico Center.
  • Declined applicants tended to view the Fund less favorably regarding impact on and understanding of their fields, communities, and organizations. Most of the unsolicited applications that the RBF received last year were outside the RBF's funding areas, therefore our staff is not active in their fields and often unfamiliar with their organizations.


  • The Fund saw a significant increase in the perception of consistency of information provided by different communication resources, both personal and written.
  • Grantees continue to rate the Fund less positively than typical for the clarity of its communication of its goals and strategies.
  • Grantees expressed an interest in the Fund sharing more about best practices it has learned, the process for selecting grantees, and what the Fund has tried but has not worked in its past grantmaking.

Grant Processes

  • Grantees noted that they appreciated the leanness of the Fund’s administrative processes.
  • Non-US based grantees estimate spending about twice the amount of time on their grant requirements as domestic grantees.
  • Grantees noted that the reporting process at the end of the grant cycle could be more helpful.

The surveys provided the Fund with a wealth of feedback to consider and inform our grantmaking. Each program received program-specific feedback from the surveys and will have their own individual follow-up based on their results and context. Based on the overall survey feedback, institutionally we are committed to:

  • engaging more with grantees on their organizational development concerns;
  • improving grant processes and procedures for our non-U.S. based grantees, and reviewing our reporting requirements to make them more helpful for both staff and grantees;
  • reviewing our unsolicited application process to ensure that we are being open in a way that is supportive and responsive to the fields we fund, while providing realistic expectations to grant seekers that work outside of our funding priorities; and
  • improving the clarity of our communications, and finding opportunities to share more about what we’ve learned in our work and best practices we have discerned.