Listening to our funded partners: 2021 Perception Survey

10th January 2023

In 2021 we asked the Centre for Effective Philanthropy(opens in new window) (CEP) to help us gather anonymised feedback from our funded partners so we can get a better sense of how organisations find working with Comic Relief. In this update, we’ll be sharing how we engaged with funded partners, an overview of the feedback we received, and what we’ll do to respond to the findings. 

Our commitment to listening

As an organisation that strives to be learning-led, feedback from the people and organisations we work with is integral to us continuously improving the way we work. Given the historic power imbalance between funders and fundraising organisations, we know that feeding back to funders isn’t always an easy thing to do. In line with our ambition to be power-aware, we have committed to offering our funded partners safe and confidential channels to share regular and candid feedback; this includes our work with CEP on our latest Grantee Perception Survey.

What the process involved

CEP reached out to all the 618 organisations that received funding from us  in 2021 and asked them to complete an anonymous survey. The 53 questions in the survey touched upon an array of themes including: our response to COVID19, application and reporting processes, interactions with Comic Relief, and our understanding of funded partners’ work and contexts. The majority of questions in the survey were standard CEP questions to allow for our results to be benchmarked against other funders working with CEP on their own Perception Survey. Of all the organisations contacted, 57% responded to the survey to share their experiences of working with us.

An overview of findings

When compared to our last survey in 2019, our funded partner ratings have significantly increased on more than half of the measures in the grantee survey. Below is an overview of what funded partners have told us – if you would like to review the full report you can do so here(opens in new window).

Key achievements

  1. Large, multi-year investments: Funded partners have clearly told us that larger and longer-term investments are preferred; CEP highlights this as a meaningful predictor of the perception of funder’s impact. When compared with a cohort of funder peers, Comic Relief’s investments are larger and longer term – £210K and 2.8 years is the median size and length of a Comic Relief investment.

  2. Funder Plus support: Our funded partners told us how much they value the Funder Plus support we provide, particularly through capacity building support, convening cohorts of funded partners, and using our networks to introduce organisation’s to other funders and field leaders.

  3. Helpful Evaluation processes: Approximately 40% of respondents took part in an evaluation process related to their Comic Relief investment and funded partners hold generally positive perceptions of the evaluation process. In addition, 85 percent of organisations who underwent an evaluation reported that the costs of the evaluation were funded at least in part by Comic Relief, compared with 54% of a typical funder.

Key areas for improvements

  1. Streamline processes: There is a clear need to review and streamline application and reporting processes so they are less burdensome, whilst still maintaining the collaborative nature and helpfulness of these processes. 

  2. Understanding of funded partners’ contexts: Survey respondents highlighted the need for us to build a better understanding of the challenges and contextual factors that affect their work, and the needs of the people that access their services.

  3. Quantity and quality and communications: Funded partners have told us that they would like to see an increase in the responsiveness of interactions with Comic Relief, as well telling us that changes in funding managers can cause significant disruption. Responses also reflected a desire for Comic Relief to share more about our own goals, strategy and current actions.

Responding to what funded partners have told us

We know that listening to feedback means very little without action. We are committed to responding to what we have heard so that we can continuously improve our practice and enable the organisations we work with to focus on delivering their vital work. Here’s an overview of some of the things we have already started to put in place following the findings of our 2021 CEP Perception Survey:

  • Review and update of our processes: At the beginning of this year we began a review of our Programme Design and Application processes. This collaborative review, which centered the voices of our funded partners and other UK and internal sector experts, has focused on many of the pain points raised by our funded partners with regards to our application process. We will be announcing the outcome of this review and update process in Summer 2022. Alongside updating our application process, we have committed to streamlining our reporting processes for funded partners. This work will be carried out in the second half of 2022.

  • Improving the quality and consistency of our approach to managing investments: We’ve started putting in place clear standards, guidance, and training for Comic Relief colleagues managing investments. These standards will aim to bring greater consistency to the quality of interactions funded partners experience across all our programmes. In addition, we will soon be launching a new Funding Charter which will explicitly outline what our funded partners can expect of us, which will hopefully make it easier for organisations receiving funding to hold us to account.

  • Increasing and strengthening feedback mechanisms: In addition to working with CEP on regular Grantee Perception Surveys, we have also introduced our own Applicant and Funded Partner surveys which are live all year round. These surveys will allow organisations to submit anonymous feedback on their interactions with Comic Relief. If you are a current Comic Relief funded partner you can leave your feedback at any time here:

  • Continue to strengthen what we’re doing well: In addition to responding to key areas of improvement, we recognise that it is equally important to continue to strengthen the initiatives funded partners have found most valuable. So, we aim to further strengthen our approach to Funder Plus support, as well as prioritising large and multi-year funding that invests in organisations, not just projects.

We’d like to sincerely thank all the funded partners who generously took the time to share their invaluable feedback with us. We look forward to providing further updates on how we will continue to improve our practice so that we can better serve the people and organisations we work with.