Looking Inward

Enhancing Fundholder Satisfaction

Earlier this year, the Foundation commissioned a third-party, independent donor perception study to help us evaluate the effectiveness of our ongoing investments in donor engagement and community leadership. We are thrilled to share highlights of the report below in a note from Linda Beech Cutler, our chief executive, along with a number of ways we will continue working to enhance our donors’ experiences.

The study was conducted by The Center for Effective Philanthropy (CEP) and was a repeat of one that the Foundation commissioned with CEP in 2012; thus, it provides a good comparison of our progress over the last five years. With this qualitative and quantitative data in hand, we can better define, assess, and improve our effectiveness – and, as a result, our intended impact in the Sacramento region.


Dear Friend of the Foundation,

Following the findings of the 2012 CEP survey, the Foundation made some significant organizational changes to enhance our fundholders’ giving experiences, the most critical being the addition of a Donor Services Officer to act as a dedicated concierge to our fundholders. We also initiated a number of new educational gatherings and shared-learning opportunities to strengthen our donor partnerships and become a resource for information about pressing community issues. We embarked on an intense strategic planning process involving input from our fundholders and diverse community stakeholders to help us identify where we could make the greatest impact and strengthen our role as community leader, and we reenergized our commitment to operational excellence.

I’m happy to share that donors’ ratings have significantly increased for most measures in the donor perception report since 2012. Highlights from the report include:

  • When asked to rate the factors that were most important in their decision to establish a fund or make contributions to the Foundation or their fund, donors rated most highly the Foundation’s integrity and trustworthiness, and the quality of Foundation staff, describing the organization as “extremely well-run” and “highly-respected.” Our staff responsiveness and the clarity of our communications were especially important.
  • Donors now rate significantly more positively the extent to which the Foundation is exhibiting a leadership role and making an impact on the community.
  • When asked about other aspects of their experience, donors rate significantly higher the extent to which working with the Foundation enhances their knowledge of the issues they care about. This is especially true for donors who have attended Foundation events or educational programs.

While these findings were heartening, the study also provided information on how we can continue to enhance our donors’ experiences, including providing more information on our Strategic Initiatives and striving for an even deeper partnership by developing a better understanding of our donors’ charitable goals. The study also indicated that fundholders who have been with us for five years or fewer were generally most satisfied, indicating that we need to do a better job of “reintroducing” and reinforcing the value of working with the Foundation to our more tenured fundholders.

All of us at the Foundation are committed to continuous improvement. We take very seriously – and are humbled by – the responsibility that our fundholders have vested in us and welcome your feedback at any time. Please feel free to contact me if you’d like to find out more about this survey or any of our activities.

Thank you for trusting us to be your partner in giving.




Linda Beech Cutler
Chief Executive Officer

P.S. I cannot neglect to mention that many of the initiatives that effected these impressive results began under the leadership of Shirlee Tully, who recently left the Foundation for a new adventure with our colleagues at Capital Public Radio. We miss her guidance and good humor – and the occasional appearance of her Southern twang! – but, of course, her legacy at the Foundation endures in the strong relationships she built with our fundholders and the donor-first philosophy she helped to weave into every aspect of our work.



By focusing on the root causes of local challenges, seeking solutions with long-term results, and supporting the organizations that tend to the vital needs of the capital area, we help create the conditions for meaningful transformation in the Sacramento region. 

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