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Grantees tell Gates Foundation it's not easy to work with

The Gates Foundation’s thousands of grantees told the foundation it’s not easy to work with in a survey, the foundation’s CEO, Jeff Raikes, reported in a letter yesterday.

The foundation did receive good marks on improving “knowledge, policy, and practice” in its funding areas. But pretty much everything else was bleak — and even bleaker than the average response that the group administering the survey, the Center for Effective Philanthropy, usually sees.

Reports Raikes:

Many of our grantee partners said we are not clear about our goals and strategies, and they think we don’t understand their goals and strategies.

They are confused by our decision-making and grantmaking processes.

Because of staff turnovers, many of our grantee partners have had to manage multiple Program Officer transitions during the course of their grant, which creates more work.

Finally, they say we are inconsistent in our communications, and often unresponsive.

Raikes also said the foundation plans to make changes in response to the feedback, which came from about two-thirds of more than a thousand grantees.

I don’t need to remind our readers that the Gates Foundation is a ginormous giver to education causes, investing more than $4 billion in the last decade. Anecdotal reports suggest the foundation is also one of the major producers of grumbling nonprofit heads and development directors, which may or may not be correlated.

Two years ago, I wrote about the foundation’s decision to rethink its education giving strategy, shifting from small schools to teaching quality.

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