Our customer satisfaction report
It is important that we receive honest feedback from our grant applicants that we can act upon. For the last three years we have asked everyone who has applied for a grant from us to complete a customer satisfaction survey. This year 135 people took the time to tell us what they think. Below we share the results of the survey, what we think they mean, and what we plan to do in response.
A note on our survey
We used SurveyMonkey to capture our applicant’s responses. It’s a good way to collect people’s views online, and it's a free-of-charge service. We sent our survey to over 400 people who were asked to complete several questions and then add any comments they wanted at the end. Only the highlights of this are included in this news item.
We decided to keep the survey anonymous, as we wanted respondents to tell us exactly what they thought. However, that does mean we can’t talk to anyone who raises a specific concern.
Finally, while 80% of the respondents were successful in their last application, 20% were not. We think this should result in a reasonably balanced view of our service.
How did you find out about our funding?
We want to be the first funder that someone thinks of when they are starting a new group or project in Somerset. We know that this is not currently the case, and so we’ve been working hard to spread the word over the last year.
In our digital age it is interesting to see that – once again – word of mouth continues to be the most common way that people find out about us. It’s therefore pleasing to see that people are talking to us and about us.
Our grants team has made a conscious effort to get out into the community and attend local events and we would like to continue to build upon and expand this activity.
We know that many people keep in touch with each other and their communities via social media. The question is: are we missing a section of the community who could do amazing things with our grants?
How do you rate our service?
There are various stages in our service when a grant applicant can have a good or bad experience of our system or staff. We asked respondents to score six of these stages on a scale of 0 to 5 (with 0 being ‘unacceptable’ and 5 being ‘excellent’).
Once again, all six stages scored an average of 4 (‘good’) and above. Most respondents were clearly quite happy with the service we provided to them, but we did notice that the score for each stage has also decreased slightly over the last three years. We don’t think this is cause for concern yet.
Our staff’s availability and helpfulness continue to be appreciated by many applicants. We know that some trusts and foundations are unable to talk to applicants at any point in their application processes. We continue to believe that having a friendly voice on the end of the phone is one of the best ways to attract high quality applications.
One area that continues to be a concern, and was noted in various comments, is our speed of decision making. Most applications are considered by a quarterly grants panel that meets three or four weeks after our published grants deadline. However, if a grant is awarded we often then have to talk to individual donors (the Foundation currently manages over 80 different funds on behalf of individuals, families, business, and local government), which can take some time.
Did you feel able to apply for what you really needed?
It is important that groups can apply for what they actually need, and not what a funder is able or willing to offer. We manage over 80 different funds, many with their own restrictions, but we work hard to combine these resources to offer flexible grants to the community.
While we are therefore unable to have an entirely open grants programme for Somerset, it is encouraging that three quarters of respondents felt ‘quite a bit’ or ‘very much’ able to apply for what they really needed.
Overall, how fairly do you think the Foundation treated you?
We are your Community Foundation and it is essential that what we do is fair and open. We asked applicants whether they felt they were treated fairly and over 90% responded that they felt treated either ‘fair’ or ‘extremely fairly’. However, one applicant felt they had been treated ‘extremely unfairly’.
How will we respond to the survey?
We are aware that it sometimes takes time to let you know the outcome of your grant application. While we may not be able to speed up the decision making process, we do commit to getting in touch with you within two weeks of our grant panel to let you know what’s happening.
Also, many respondents clearly valued being able to talk to someone, either over the phone or face-to-face, and we will continue to get out of the office and meet you across the county at different events.
We now publish all our grants data on 360Giving, so you can explore the grants that we award, alongside those of the Big Lottery Fund, Lloyds Bank Foundation and many others.
Finally, we look forward to talking to you in the future about your projects and ideas, and would welcome any thoughts you might have about our service. You can contact the grants team on 01749 344949 or email firstname.lastname@example.org