Three years after the launch of the global C&A Foundation, we have taken a step back to reflect on the progress we've made, the challenges we've faced, and the lessons that will help us be more effective. At the end of 2016, we commissioned the Center for Effective Philanthropy (CEP) to carry out our first “Grantee Perception Survey". The survey collected feedback from around 47 of our partners, highlighting both the positive aspects of working with C&A Foundation as well as areas for improvement and in some cases, significantly improve.
On a positive note, the results showed that our partners recognise that C&A Foundation is establishing credibility in driving transformative change in the global apparel industry. A significant proportion of partners (over one in four) reported receiving intensive non-monetary assistance, which they appreciated. As a result, they rated the foundation higher than typical on many other measures in the survey, such as our perceived impact on their fields, communities, and organisations.
However, we also saw a lot of room for improvement. The results clearly show that our first few years of operating as a global foundation have not always been easy on our partners, particularly as we have been developing our processes and strategy. Reflecting on the results, we have identified two priorities for improvement:
Improving the transparency and efficiency of our processes
Survey respondents rated the foundation lower than typical on the clarity and consistency of its communications. The feedback showed we need to be more transparent on what we do and don't fund, and on how our grant making process works. As a result, we updated our website with a a full overview of our grant development process and we revised our concept and proposal templates. We have also been refining the strategies of each of our signature programme, which we will publish on our website by end of this year.
Improving our quality of relationship with partners
While foundation staff have higher than typical contact with survey respondents, we received lower than typical ratings for understanding of our partners' contexts. In brief, we need to listen better. In response, we've spent time together as a team exploring how we can do this earlier in our relationships with partners, and we've added this important skill to our new competency framework. This framework underpins how we operate and the values driving our work. We have also introduced formal checkpoints to enable better dialogue with partners and we added an opportunity for feedback to our regular monitoring reports. Finally, we are introducing grant closing surveys to collect final feedback from our partners.
We are grateful for this opportunity to pause and reflect on our first few years, which was only possible with the sincere feedback of our partners.
This first report is our baseline, and we are committed to making improvements so that together with our partners, we can achieve our shared goal of a global apparel industry in which everyone can thrive.