What are we doing well and what can we do better?
Earlier this year, we conducted our biennial grantee partner and applicant perception survey through the Center of Effective Philanthropy (CEP). CEP has surveyed more than 50,000 grantee partners of more than 300 funders to build a dataset that allows foundations to assess their performance, as viewed by grantee partners, on a comparative basis.
Tracking, monitoring, reviewing and improving our grantmaking and accompaniment processes is very important to Mama Cash. We want to remain accountable to the movements we work with and for. As Mama Cash is becoming a participatory grantmaker for all our funds from 2021, institutionalising principles and processes of transparency and accountability have become even more important than they already were.
We want to thank grantee partners and applicants for their time and their honest feedback.
What we heard from grantee partners and applicants
We received feedback from 93 grantee partners (60%) and 198 applicants (36%) from all regions Mama Cash works in. Grantee partners were very positive about their experiences with us. Compared to the grantees of similar foundations, Mama Cash grantee partners have more positive perceptions regarding our:
Impact on the field: As in 2018, grantee partners give outstanding ratings for our impact on their fields, placing Mama Cash in the top five percent of funders, comparatively. Grantee partners also provide significantly higher ratings than in 2018 for perceptions of how well Mama Cash understands their context– now in the top ten percent of CEP’s comparative dataset.
Grantee partners see Mama Cash as “a leader in women’s rights”, with grantee partners stating that Mama Cash “opens spaces so we can continue to publicise our battle,” has “a clear and absolute understanding,” and is making a “very significant and visible impact”.
“As the biggest fund in Europe, Mama Cash has a leading role in conversations/advocacy with donors, governments, institutions and it’s one of their biggest impacts on our field/movement.”
Relationship management: Grantee partners rate Mama Cash’s transparency and clarity of communication very highly– placing Mama Cash in the top ten percent of the comparative dataset.
Grantee partners also continue to be more comfortable approaching us if a problem arises than is typical with funders. In fact, ratings on this question place Mama Cash in the top five percent of CEP’s dataset.
“We find Mama Cash to be 'a breath of fresh air' when it comes to funders, they listen, they don’t push, don’t enforce a different agenda, ask questions to understand contexts, and genuinely care how things are going…”
Reporting and Evaluation: Mama Cash receives one of its highest comparative ratings – in the top two percent of CEP’s dataset – for the helpfulness of the application and renewal processes. This rating is significantly higher than in 2018.
However, grantee partners indicate that they spend more time on Mama Cash’s reporting processes compared to other donors in the benchmark, and find the processes less straightforward.
“Mama Cash is a wonderful funder and partner. However, in everything there is always room for improvement - the financial information, especially the forms can be daunting...the conversions and calculations.”
What we can do better
Interest in more non-monetary support: Beyond traditional grantmaking, 11 percent of Mama Cash grantee partners, a smaller than typical proportion, report receiving intensive non-monetary assistance. A number of grantee partners requested support beyond the grant. For example, we have received requests for additional collaboration and for opportunities for more training and organisational capacity building support.
Declined applicants ratings: As in 2018, Mama Cash applicant ratings are somewhat lower than typical when compared to other applicants in CEP’s dataset. For example, they find Mama Cash less responsive and accessible than the average funder in CEP’s dataset. 39% of applicants reported receiving feedback or advice, and a larger than typical proportion of applicants report that the reason they were given for being declined was “not enough funds”, or “too many good proposals”.
Mama Cash remains one of the few core funders who has an open call for applications. As a result, we receive a high number of grant applications and are only able to fund a small number. For example, in 2019, we received 1303 funding requests of which we could approve 15 new grants (1.15% of all requests) in our portfolios of Money and Voice. This unfortunately limits our ability to give detailed feedback to declined applicants.
Yet despite these lower than typical numbers, applicants indicate significant improvement in Mama Cash’s understanding of their organisations’ strategies and goals, as well as its understanding of their local communities, compared to the 2018 survey.
And Mama Cash now receives significantly higher ratings –and near the top 25% of CEP’s data set– for the extent to which the application process was helpful in strengthening their organisation or programme.
We have been and will be using the CEP data to further improve our processes and work, in particular:
- We will continue to improve our accompaniment programming. Beginning in our next strategic period, in 2021, we will offer greater clarity on what we mean by accompaniment as well as the kinds of accompaniment support we can provide to grantee partners. We will sharpen our procedures so that more grantee partners are aware of and able to access the accompaniment opportunities we will have available.
- We are making our application and reporting documents easier to use, more efficient, and more streamlined. We will be evaluating and adapting our reporting practices to ensure that the information gathered from our applicants and grantee partners is not needlessly duplicative, time consuming and complicated.
We are pleased to share the full report and an executive summary with you: