27 November 2023 LESSONS

Partner Perception Report 2023

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From September to October of 2022, the Centre for Effective Philanthropy (CEP) undertook the first survey of partners receiving funding from Laudes. The Partner Perception Report (PPR) results were compared the previous PPR results from 2016 and 2019 (of our predecessor C&A Foundation) to CEP’s broader dataset (CEP funder cohort) of more than 40,000 partners built up over more than a decade of partner surveys of more than 250 funders.


Partner: CEP

Duration: 2022 - 2023

Geographic region: Global


Laudes is Perceived as a Leader in Partners’ Fields

Partners provided positive perceptions of the foundation’s impact on their fields particularly through the understanding and thoughtful support for systems change focused grantmaking. Several important contributions were highlighted by partners, including support for public policy work and innovation related to business.

“The foundation has elevated critical environmental and social issues in the fashion industry in the past and has played a catalyst role. When the foundation embraces a topic and takes a public stand on it, others follow suit.”

Improved Impact on and Understanding of Partner Organisations

Overall, partners rate Laudes' impact on their organisations in line with the typical funder in CEP’s dataset, which is an improvement on previous results of C&A Foundation in 2016 and 2019. The foundation is well aware of the challenges partners are facing and provides appropriate support in terms of the size and length of grants. For example, Laudes grants are larger than those of the majority of funders in CEP’s dataset and 86 percent of partners report receiving multiyear support.

The foundation provides approximately 21 percent of funding as unrestricted support, which is more than the typical funder in CEP’s dataset, at nine percent.

An important aspect of Laudes’ grantmaking that may contribute to stronger perceptions of impact is the provision of non-monetary support. The foundation provides 66 percent of partners with non-monetary support which was described by many as a ‘major benefit’.

“Recently, the Foundation started to offer support in the field of business processes, from HR and legal advice to financial planning. This is super exciting in my opinion and really a value add to the organisations you are supporting...”

Laudes has high touch relationships and opportunities to clarify communications

Overall, partners report positive perceptions in their relations with the foundation, in terms of praising ‘transparency’, ‘approachability’ and ‘helpfulness’. However, there is room for improvement in communications with partners regarding strategy and the grantmaking process, where Laudes is in the bottom five percent of CEP’s dataset.

The foundation ratings are in the top 25 percent of CEP’s dataset for the extent to which partners are comfortable approaching Laudes if a problem arises. This is also linked to high levels of trust, candor and openness to partner ideas from Laudes' employees.

On the other hand, partners report interacting with Laudes' employees more frequently than is typical. Fifty-seven percent of partners reported having monthly contact with Laudes' employees as compared to 26 percent of the typical funder.

Opportunities to improve diversity, equity and inclusion

Overall, for most measures relating to diversity, equity and inclusion, partners provide ratings that similar to the typical funder in CEP’s overall dataset. Notably, one area where ratings were lower is on the extent to which partners believe the foundation is committed to combating racism.

Fifty-three percent of Laudes partners, lower than the typical funder in CEP’s dataset, report that efforts funded by their grant are meant to benefit historically disadvantaged groups. This proportion is lower in the Built Environment and Finance and Capital Markets programmes, than for the Labour Rights and Fashion programmes.

Mixed experiences with the grantmaking process

Overall, partners provide mixed perceptions of the foundation’s grantmaking processes. Whilst some partners find the process helpful and innovative (e.g., on rubrics), others report the opposite.

On the positive side, Laudes’ selection process is a helpful opportunity to strengthen efforts funded by the grant and partner ratings place the foundation in the top 15 percent of CEP’s dataset. On the negative side, partners report feeling higher than typical levels of pressure to modify their priorities in order to receive funding from the foundation. It is worth noting that partners receiving multiyear and / or unrestricted support report feeling less pressure than Laudes' other partners.

On Laudes' distinct approach to measuring (based on rubrics), its progress received mixed ratings. Some partners provide typical ratings and also recognise the innovative approach to measuring system change, which helps them learn and reflect, whilst others, provide lower than typical ratings citing complexity and longer time commitment to report.

“Our grant and first reporting were set at the early stages of formalising the rubrics system, explaining why we had a bit of ‘try and correct’ process. This however created fruitful and quality interactions which were not only confirmed but reinforced along the whole period of the grant. While quite intense [the rubric reporting] in terms of time dedication at some points, the evaluation process was also supportive and useful …”

The evaluation process was viewed differently to measurement by partners. Partners provided ratings in the top 10 percent of CEP’s overall dataset for the extent to which evaluation processes resulted in making changes to the work evaluated. Furthermore, 94 percent of partners exchanged ideas with foundation's employees on how their funded work would be assessed.

Finally, Laudes' grantmaking process is unusually time-consuming for partners – from conception and design through to reporting. Partners report spending 139 hours on Laudes’ requirements over the lifetime of their grant, which is among the highest in the CEP’s dataset (97th percentile). However, due to the larger size of Laudes' grants, partners continue to receive a large “dollar return” for each hour they spend on Laudes' processes, which is higher than 75 percent of funders in CEP’s dataset.

What did we learn?

Laudes Foundation

Deepening and maintaining our understanding of partners, their operating context and organisations is key to providing the right support for them to achieve impact.

Understanding partners is dependent on good relationships that are open, transparent and provide psychological safety to discuss problems, failures and successes – this is built over time through actions and not just words.

Growing unrestricted support to partners is important to enable them to have the flexibility to achieve impact: For us finding the right proportion of unrestricted funding has to be related to context, relevance and relations and not to targets for types of support.

The foundation strategy and changes to the strategy need to go hand in hand with communicating. Poor communication = confusion on our strategy for partners.

New approaches to measuring system change take time to be adopted and accepted.

  • We cannot ignore the fact that system change, non-linear relations and complexity present a challenge to traditional measurement and evaluation approaches based on linear cause-effect relationships.

Reassessing grantmaking processes needs to balance internal organisational needs and culture of the foundation with those of our partners: “You can’t always get what you want.”