News and analysis
November 20, 2014

13 Nonprofits Get Grants to Encourage Openness in Philanthropy

A new, seven-foundation partnership created to support nonprofits working to collect feedback and be more effective today announced its first round of grants.

The Fund for Shared Insight has awarded 13 organizations a total of $5.26-million in 14 separate grants of one to three years, designed "to accelerate the culture of listening" among nonprofits, according to Melinda Tuan, a spokesman for the group.

A news release says the grants are intended "to encourage and incorporate feedback from the people the social sector seeks to help; understand the connection between feedback and better results; foster more openness between and among foundations and grantees; and share lessons."

The biggest single award—$700,000 for one year—will go to GlobalGiving, an online fundraising site that connects donors with development projects overseas. Ms. Tuan says the money will support GlobalGiving’s efforts to build, test, and share new tools to help nonprofits collect feedback from their constituents. One example is Global Giving’s Storytelling Project, an effort to learn what residents of other countries think about the nonprofits that serve them.

Habitat for Humanity International, among the largest charities to receive a grant, was awarded $600,000 for up to three years to improve and systematize the way it gathers and uses feedback from residents in the 220 U.S. communities where it works.

Keystone Accountability, a nonprofit consultant that developed Constituent Voice, a feedback tool used by many organizations (including at least a handful of the other grantees), will get $300,000 to develop Feedback Commons, an effort to openly share resources and research among nonprofits.

The Fund for Shared Insight, created in July, is a collaboration among the Rita Allen, Ford, William and Flora Hewlett, JPB, W.K. Kellogg, and David and Lucile Packard Foundations, along with the charitable arm of Liquidnet, a financial trading company. Together, the organizations have committed $18-million over three years, with plans to give away at least $5-million to $6-million a year, or more if additional grant makers join.

The fund, which received nearly 200 proposals for its first round of grants, plans to provide individualized feedback to all rejected applicants—that pledge, it said, was part of how it hoped to show grant makers ways to promote openness about decision making. It also plans to circulate a survey to get applicants’ views on the grants process and ideas on how to improve it.

The additional grantees announced today are: The Center for Employment Opportunity, Feedback Labs, LIFT, the Center for Effective Philanthropy (for its YouthTruth project and for separate research), Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago, a joint project by the Urban Institute and Feeding America, Creative Commons, Exponent Philanthropy, the Foundation Center, and GiveWell.