How we learn
Highlights: Committed to learning
We listen and learn
Learning has always been central to our philanthropic practice. That’s why we fostered a culture of critical reflection and evaluation within C&A Foundation and always shared those results and lessons internally and externally. By learning from what works and what doesn’t work, we have been more able to enhance our partners’ and our own effectiveness to advance systems change.
As a learning organisation, C&A Foundation always maintained the importance of developing and sharing better practice for greater impact. By constantly evaluating our practice and the initiatives we supported, and by responding to and sharing the lessons we learned, we have been more able to assess our programmes, measure our progress and improve our work.
Partner Perception Survey
We have grown together with our partners, and they have continuously made us better. In 2019, two years after commissioning our first Partner Perception Survey, we again asked The Center for Effective Philanthropy to survey our partners so we could measure our progress and identify gaps. We remain grateful for this opportunity to reflect on our relationships. What we’ve learned from our partners, we take with us to Laudes Foundation.
responded to the survey in 2019
5 key indicators
compare results with the first survey done in 2016
Improved relationships with opportunity to further bolster understanding
Partners rated C&A Foundation significantly more positively than in 2016 for our responsiveness and our openness to their ideas about our strategy. They also rated us close to average for our transparency, with results trending upwards since 2016. The results indicated there was also room to solidify our understanding of partners’ local communities and their organisations’ strategies and goals.
From one of our partners: “Be more open to co-create with investees, take time to listen, trust the experience of the investee, challenge constructively rather than impose.”
Funder-partner relationships summary measure
How well does the Foundation understand the local community in which you work?
Valuable non-monetary assistance
We know foundations can serve their partners beyond the deployment of financial resources. Building on a strength first identified in the 2016 survey, more than a quarter of our partners – a larger than average proportion – reported receiving intensive patterns of non-monetary assistance from C&A Foundation. There was still space for unrestricted funding.
Proportion of partners that received field-focused or comprehensive* assistance
Opportunity to deepen impact on partners’ fields and organisations
C&A Foundation was recognised for its unique position in the sector, encouraging collaboration and creating disruptive initiatives that promote sector change. While our teams were rated as having above-average awareness of the challenges partners face, C&A Foundation received lower-than-average ratings for our perceived impact on partners’ fields and organisations. It was also pointed out that there was greater opportunity to influence public policy.
From one of our partners: “The Foundation is thoughtful and forward-leaning in its granting, often making courageous and impactful grants.”
Overall, how would you rate the Foundation’s impact on your field?
To what extent has the Foundation advanced the state of knowledge in your field?
Helpful processes with a persistent sense of pressure
Even though the helpfulness of our selection process was rated as average, the median number of hours spent on funder requirements nearly doubled since 2016, putting C&A Foundation in the top 5% of CEP’s dataset. It is the responsibility of funders to consider ways to limit the pressure felt by partners over a grant’s lifecycle. Part of Laudes Foundation’s emergency response during the COVID-19 pandemic included relaxing reporting requirements and offering greater flexibility to partners during that period.
From one of our partners: “We have found some of the processes to be highly bureaucratic and painstakingly detailed. Also an over-reliance on a linear logframe for a systemic issue isn’t always helpful.”
How helpful was participating in the Foundation’s selection process in strengthening the organisation/programme funded by the grant?
As you developed your grant proposal, how much pressure did you feel to modify your organisation’s priorities in order to create a grant proposal that was likely to receive funding?
We measure ourselves beyond KPIs
During 2019 we commissioned an Overall Effectiveness Evaluation (OEE) to assess the performance of C&A Foundation’s strategy, programmes and structure over its five years.
The OEE, which is under final review by external evaluators, revealed that, with our technical expertise, strong networks and localisation in key contexts and markets, C&A Foundation has gained credibility as an “ecosystemic” funder that has catalysed the development of an “ecosystem of organisations” that share a commitment to truly sustainable fashion.
The report also reflected on our “big and bold ambitions” to transform the fashion industry into a force for good, and agreed that we now occupy a leadership role “on a trajectory to systemic change” that addresses existing problems in the industry while also investing in imagining and building the future.
As C&A Foundation comes to a close, we take enormous pride in the impact we, together with our partners, have achieved. This is not an ending. We will take everything we have learned – being sure to maintain our momentum, spirit and grit – as we build Laudes Foundation.
All C&A Foundation OEEs will be available in September 2020 at laudesfoundation.org.