Transparency Talk

« Leadership and the Lessons of Change | Main | Read All About It: “Foundation Plans to Stay In Business Forever!” »

Glasspockets Find: The Ford Foundation’s Un-Survey Invites Inquiring Minds
April 28, 2014

(Janet Camarena is the director of the Foundation Center's San Francisco office and leads the Center's Glasspockets effort.)

6a00e54efc2f80883301a511634173970c-800wiEveryone who has ever raised funds from foundations quickly learns that grantmaking professionals excel at asking questions—lots of them.  From the submission of the letter of inquiry to the completion of an online grants application form, to the face-to-face meeting with a funder, a grantseeker can face a seemingly endless series of questions.  In a refreshing change of pace, the Ford Foundation’s new Un-Survey puts its users in the interviewer’s chair, and invites its community to publicly ask the questions they wish the foundation would use its web site to answer.  In addition to posing a query, one can also view all of the questions that have already been asked, and then vote on the submitted questions to let the foundation know which ones are of most interest to its audience.

BrandmarkThe goal of the Un-Survey is to help inform the Ford Foundation’s web redesign process, and hopefully to unearth suggestions through this process that a traditional survey might have missed.  The thinking behind this is that in a traditional survey model, the questions asked have built-in assumptions and are shaped by the thinking of the survey writers themselves, and that the Un-Survey will serve to eliminate those assumptions and avoid leading its audience in a particular direction framed by the foundation.  It will be interesting to see if the Un-Survey lives up to this expectation, but at this early stage it seems a great example of an effort to expand participation, transparency, and accountability since anyone can ask a question, vote on those questions already asked, and help inform the direction of not just the web design, but ultimately of answers and knowledge to be shared.

In preparation for the Un-Survey Launch, Ford invited some well-known inquiring minds to get the inquiry started, and as a result some questions have already been submitted from Lucy Bernholz, Ben Hecht and Jillian York and others.  But in my view, the really important thing about the Un-Survey is that it is not only for thought leaders or a select few.  We are all being invited to be thought partners of the Ford Foundation.  What kind of transparency do you want to see on the Ford Foundation’s redesigned site?  Go ahead and ask. Maybe we will discover the path to an Un-Grant Application in the process!

-- Janet Camarena


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

Share This Blog

  • Share This

Subscribe to Transparency Talk

  • Enter your email address:

About Transparency Talk

  • Transparency Talk, the GlassPockets blog, is a platform for candid and constructive conversation about foundation transparency and accountability. In this space, Candid highlights strategies, findings, and best practices on the web and in foundations–illuminating the importance of having "glass pockets."

    The views expressed in this blog do not necessarily reflect the views of the Candid.

    Questions, comments, and inquiries relating to guest blog posts may be
    directed to:

    Janet Camarena
    Senior Director of Candid Learning