Building Trust and Deepening Relationships with Grantee Partners: 2023 Grantee Perception Survey

Building Trust and Deepening Relationships with Grantee Partners: 2023 Grantee Perception Survey

As part of our commitment to trust-based philanthropy, we strive to listen, learn, and develop mutually accountable relationships with our grantee partners.  In that spirit, our annual grantee perception survey is one of the many tools that we use to help us examine our own practices so that we can continually improve. 

We are proud to report that the results from the 2023 survey show that we are improving our relationships with grantee partners. 

  • SFF continues to show steady improvement in our relationship with grantee partners and understanding of their work. 86% of grantees indicated that they have enough touch points with SFF staff, an increase from 76% last year. 94% of grantees reported being comfortable approaching their SFF grant application lead in case of a problem, an increase from 86% last year. Grantees also confirmed that SFF staff understand their organization’s work, as well as the local communities where they work.  
  • Grantee partners recognize our ongoing commitment to racial equity in the region, with 89% reporting that we are committed to prioritizing BIPOC communities.  One grantee shared,  

“SFF could take a leadership role in philanthropy and systems change work. It would be great if SFF shared their own lessons about racial equity, internally at the foundation as a way to influence and impact other foundations, and externally through their grant-making and policy advocacy work, via publications and convenings.”  

  • Grantee partners continue to report positive experiences with SFF’s grant application process. They indicated that the grant terms and expectations were clear (93%) and received sufficient guidance and assistance from SFF staff (85%).  

These increases reflect SFF’s recent efforts to strengthen our relationship with grantees—through the grantee check-in process (also known as conversational reports); site visits; and grantee convenings. We are humbled by this feedback and going forward, we will remain steadfast in our commitment to improving our practices.   

In fact, based on the survey responses, we see opportunities to improve our systems and processes, such as:  

  • Providing greater transparency about how funding decisions are made. We will continue to build the muscle to communicate as clearly and effectively as possible about our funding decisions. To that end, we are working on a series of trainings for new grantmakers. 
  • Providing clear explanations when funding is denied. This year we are developing standard protocols and practices to equip staff with easy-to-use templates when communicating grant decisions. 
  • Supporting grantees in using our grants management software system, Fluxx. To support our partners, we will be offering trainings, including how to navigate our online grants portal so that the application is easy to use. 

Read more about how we center trust-based philanthropy and our 2023 grantmaking data analysis.


In February 2023, we sent the survey to 416 organizations that received grants between January 1, 2022, to December 31, 2022; 121 respondents completed the survey while 8 partially completed it, resulting in a response rate of 31%. Respondents are representative of our grantee pool. This response rate is comparable to the 2018 CEP survey, and in line with averages for online and email surveys.

See the results from the 2023 grantee perception survey as a PDF.