A little more than a year ago, Community Foundation Sonoma County engaged the Center for Effective Philanthropy to conduct a confidential survey of our grantees, called the Grantee Perception Report.

It was enormously helpful for us to receive your feedback, and we were energized by what we learned.  Here is what we committed to providing our grantees last year, along with our reflections on the changes we implemented.

Leading Community Change

2014 Commitment: We were invigorated by your request that we play a leadership role in the community.   We committed to taking steps to increase our knowledge of key community issues and utilizing tools to demonstrate that knowledge to others.

One Year Later: We continued our leadership role in many initiatives and expanded our roles in others. Our CEO Beth Brown joined the Executive Committee of Health Action and Upstream Investments, and our Vice President Karin Demarest continued to serve on the Review and Policy Committees of Upstream Investments. As the lead agency for the Cradle to Career Parent Engagement working group, we launched our three-year Early Childhood Education Initiative to support family engagement in early literacy. Our Program Officer Elly Grogan participated in the Economic Development Board’s Next Economy Project. We continued to stay informed of trends, best practices, and opportunities for collaboration in philanthropy through Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees, Council on Foundations, Grantmakers for Effective Organizations, and the local Funder’s Circle.

Enhanced Transparency and Communications   

2014 Commitment: We also committed to clarifying and streamlining our grantmaking processes and developing a new multi-platform communication strategy for sharing this information.  We committed to responding to your calls and emails within 48 hours and providing you meaningful feedback to all reports submitted about your grants.

One Year Later: Since committing to this goal, we created clear timelines for our grants programs, refined our grants criteria, and transitioned nearly all of our grant applications to the same online program. We developed a bi-monthly newsletter, became more active on Facebook, and hosted four grants workshops, which over 100 organizations attended. We carefully read your final reports, which continue to be enormously helpful for us in understanding your mission and sharing your story with others.  We remain committed to responding to your inquiries in as timely a manner as possible – though this is an area we are humbly aware of not always meeting our mark.


2014 Commitment: We wanted to join you as partners in fulfilling your mission.  While one important part of our community investment is through our grantmaking, we wanted to better understand what you need to achieve your mission and, as our capacity permits, to support your work in ways beyond grantmaking.

One Year Later: In order to deepen our knowledge of your organizations and the issues you are working on in the community, we met with over 100 organizations individually over the past year. We held five Quarterly Coffees with Karin to learn more about what you’re interested in knowing, meeting with a total of 75 organizations. In partnership with Sonoma County Office of Education, Sonoma State University, and others, we helped bring Dan Pallotta to ieSonoma to educate donors and leaders about the importance of looking at an organization’s impact, not the amount spent on administration, to assess effectiveness. We began working with a small cohort of grantees to provide capacity-building support beyond grantmaking.

We are committed to reflection and continual growth and improvement. We so appreciate the feedback provided via the Grantee Perception Report, and we remain invigorated and inspired to lead community change, be in regular communication, and work in partnership with you.  Please do let us know if you have any further feedback by sending us an email to kdemarest@sonomacf.org.

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