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Ascendium Acts on Grant Partners’ Feedback to Refine Philanthropic Practices

November 9, 2023 2-minute read
Grant Type:
Bethany Miller sitting in a well lit office and smiling

Bethany Miller - Director of Learning and Impact

Listening to our grant partners is a key part of our commitment to learning and continually improving. We are deeply grateful to our partners not only for their hard work to change our systems, but also for their generosity in providing feedback to refine our practices and maximize our effectiveness.

This spring, keeping with that commitment, we partnered with the Center for Effective Philanthropy (CEP) to survey our 2022 grant partners. CEP’s confidential survey helps us understand our grant partners' true perceptions of us as a funder and to benchmark that performance against other funders.

Overall, respondents reported positive perceptions of Ascendium. Here are some key results, which we will strive to sustain.

  • Respondents rated our impact on and understanding of their field higher than other funders in CEP’s dataset, with Ascendium’s contributions to advancing knowledge being particularly high.
  • Ratings placed Ascendium at the top of CEP’s comparative funder dataset for understanding the social, cultural, and socioeconomic factors that affect our grant partners’ work.
  • Respondents described their relationship with Ascendium’s staff in positive terms such as “responsive,” “approachable,” and “knowledgeable.” These comments dovetailed with the high ratings across all measures related to funder-grantee interactions.

Our grant partners’ feedback also helped us identify areas for improvement, contributing to the following commitments.

  • We will convene our grantees more. Respondents repeatedly suggested that Ascendium “use [its] convening power” for grantees to “learn from each other’s work” and allow “for cross-pollination of ideas and collaborations.” We have some exciting ideas for small-scale, learning-focused events in 2024.
  • We will better communicate our strategies and goals. While our ratings are high for the clarity, consistency, and transparency of our communications, many asked for “greater clarity on [Ascendium’s] strategy and intended impact” and “how [grant partners’] work fit.” A strategic refresh of our grantmaking strategy is currently underway and will help us further clarify and communicate our work.

If you have additional views on any topic addressed in this email or in the full CEP report, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me or your primary Ascendium contact. We look forward to continuing this dialogue with you as we strive to be better partners in creating meaningful, durable, large-scale change for learners from low-income backgrounds.