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Building Trust through Grantee Feedback

Headwaters Foundation

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“A foundation’s work will be inherently more successful if it is informed by the expertise and experience of grantee partners and communities.” –Trust Based Philanthropy Project 


At Headwaters, we practice a different kind of philanthropy. A kind that builds trusting relationships, supports grantees beyond grantmaking, and centers learning together. By practicing Trust-Based Philanthropy, we strive to break the traditional power dynamic between funder and grantee and create a collaborative environment that centers community needs and supports listening, learning and adaptation. 

Our values include putting our partners at the center of the work and soliciting and acting on their feedback. We know that we’re not getting it right all the time, and we need your help to do better. Now that we have reached our fourth year of grantmaking, we want to ask you how it’s going, so we can determine our success as a trust-based funder. 

The power dynamic of traditional philanthropy has made it difficult for funders to receive honest, candid feedback from grantee partners. That’s why we have partnered with the Center for Effective Philanthropy to conduct an anonymous and confidential survey (Grantee Perception Report) of our grantees to determine how they perceive our processes and partnership.  

If you received a grant from Headwaters Foundation in 2021 or 2022, you’ll receive an email on September 21 from Center for Effective Philanthropy with a link to participate. The survey will be open until October 21.  

Please respond and do so boldly! Your feedback will be used as a learning tool for Headwaters Foundation, informing our focus, strategies and processes. Early next year, we will share responses publicly, alongside an action plan to address any issues or concerns. We will then continue to report on changes we have made based on the findings. 

Questions in the survey will focus on: 

  • Our impact on your field, community and organization, 
  • Our understanding of your organization and its challenges, 
  • Your interactions and communications with our team, 
  • Our application, reporting and evaluation processes, 
  • Assistance you have received beyond your grant, 
  • Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. 

Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts. Your feedback will help us improve as a funder and better serve your organization and our community.  

Learn more about the Grantee Perception Report here, and explore Trust-Based Philanthropy here