Trista Harris you are not as smart, funny, or as helpful as you think you are.

That was my humbling revelation last week after our foundation received our Center for Effective Philanthropy (CEP) Grantee Perception Report. When I first started philanthropy work and this blog, I gave advice for foundation staff not to get caught in the hype of their positions. The CEP data was a good reminder for me to follow my own advice.

First a little background on the data. CEP offers individual foundations the opportunity to assess performance on key dimensions relative to other foundations. The survey also asks very informative questions of grantees about their program officer's ability to clarify the grant application process and the foundation's reputation in the community.

We received our grantee satisfaction data by program officer and in some of the measures I received a score I haven't seen since 5th grade math, a "below average" or more specifically a "below foundation average". For my own self esteem I will say that our foundation's performance on the study was amazing and I am part of an extremely talented program staff with many years of philanthropic experience. Half of us had to get a below average on each measure or else it wouldn't be an average. But still, seeing a below average score is a much needed humbling experience for any program officer.

The Center for Effective Philanthropy has set the data up in a way that makes it easy for staff to see where they can make tangible improvements to how they interact with grantees. Effective and sensitive interactions with grantees is a responsibility of every program officer and the CEP survey is a tool that can help all of us do our work better.

Have you used the CEP tool or a similar evaluation and how did the results change your work?