Use of Survey Results
The Council is committed to ensuring that foundation administrators, academic centers, government and the general public have wide access to timely information about the internal workings of foundations and corporate giving programs. To meet that commitment, the Council regularly collects information via surveys and shares it through publicly-available survey reports. We thank the grantmakers who complete our surveys and enable their colleagues to benefit from this valuable information. Their continued support makes our reports both possible and credible.
While some of the information we collect is also provided by the grantmaker through its Form 990 or Form 990-PF, most of it is not. We also request information earlier than the 990.
Information on board or staff compensation and administrative expenses is only released in the aggregate or with identifying information deleted. Other information specific to an individual organization's survey is never publicized or shared with the general public, the media, or government. Such information is shared with other members of the Council or with Council staff only if respondents have indicated on their surveys that they are willing to be contacted about their management practices.
Publication of Data
The results of Council surveys are published in survey reports and through online reporting and benchmarking tools on its Benchmark Central website. These published and online reports only display confidential data in the aggregate; the data are arrayed in tables by grantmaker type, asset or grant level, staff size, or other breakdowns of utility to foundations in understanding practices within the foundation world. All published Council survey reports are public documents that can be bought through the Council. Please note that beginning in 2007, with the Foundation Governance Survey, the names of respondent organizations will be publicly available both in published reports and online.
Sharing Data with Other Grantmakers
In every survey, respondents are asked if the Council "may refer grantmaking colleagues to your foundation/grantmaking program on management issues." Nearly 90 percent of survey respondents indicate that they are willing to be contacted. As a professional membership organization, the Council receives thousands of requests for information from its members. Many of these requests are for information about the management practices of other grantmakers. Information about a particular organization will only be provided if that organization has given the Council permission to do so in advance. More detail about the information we provide in response to such requests is identified below.
Sharing Data with Council Staff
Similarly, when the editors of the newsletters produced by Council staff (for example, Family Matters and CF Source) are writing about grantmaking practices, they may request lists of survey respondents who are willing to be contacted about their management practices. Council staff may also request such lists when looking for grantmakers who are willing to share sample documents. Again, this information is only shared if the respondent has agreed in advance to be contacted.
Accepting or Declining Colleague Contact
Checking "yes" means that you are willing to respond to phone calls and emails from Council on Foundations members or Council staff about your management practices. It also necessarily means that you are willing to have the Council identify you to those people (and only those people) and provide the information needed for them to contact you. For example, a Council member calls and wants to know how frequently similar foundations have written job descriptions for their board members. In response, the Research staff sends them the corresponding aggregate table from the survey report and a table restricted to the following information-foundation name, state and assets; survey preparer's name, phone number and email address; and membership status with the Council-about similar grantmakers that are willing to be contacted by colleagues about their foundation management practices and that have written job descriptions for their board members. The member can then contact foundations on the list to request copies of the job descriptions, talk about best practices, etc.
You can expect to be contacted two or three times a year by Council members and staff if you check "yes."
Check "no" if you do not wish to be contacted by your fellow Council members or Council staff about your management practices.
How We Process Your Survey
Your survey is assigned a unique six-digit number, and the survey response is entered into a database. The identity of your individual organization and the survey preparer is kept, along with the six-digit number, in a separate table of the survey database. All other survey information resides in other tables of the survey database using the six-digit ID. Access to the survey databases is limited the Council's Research and Management Information Systems departments.
The survey you sent to us is kept in a locked file cabinet until it is destroyed.
When and How We Dispose of Your Survey Response
We keep your actual survey response until the survey report is released and a new survey questionnaire is distributed. For example, Grantmakers Salary and Benefits Report is produced annually, so the past year's survey responses are not disposed of until the current year's survey instrument is distributed. The page(s) that have the identities of the responding institution and survey preparer are separated from the rest of the survey, shredded and discarded. The balance of the survey is discarded separately.
There is no limit on how long the electronic version of your survey response is maintained. Access to the databases is limited to the staffs of the Council's Research and Management Information Systems departments.
Protecting Your Information Against Loss or Accidental Disclosure
The Council on Foundations created this Survey Data Collection and Dissemination Policy in order to demonstrate its firm commitment to (1) the privacy of Council members and survey respondents and (2) wide access to timely information about the internal workings of foundations and corporate giving programs. This policy statement may change at any time. Changes will be posted on the Research page of the Council's website (www.cof.org). If you have additional questions, comments or concerns please contact:
Council on Foundations
2121 Crystal Drive
Arlington, VA 22202