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A self-aware organization understands its unique strengths and capacity to effect change; it also knows its limitations and boundaries.

Self-aware organizations are committed to learning and continuous improvement. They think from a systemic perspective. They recognize that every individual contributor adds value and that teams are the fundamental learning unit. They build a shared vision for success. They prioritize ongoing evaluation. And they create space for internal reflection, retooling and renewal.

Sometimes this involves formal assessment mechanisms, like grantee perception surveys or 360 program evaluations. At other times it might be as informal as a brown bag lunch or non-structured staff retreat. What matters is that the organization is consistently seeking to improve itself.

Self-awareness plays an especially important role in strategic communications. Organizations who are self-aware understand the value, and limitations, of their brand assets – their reputation, relationships and resources. They know when and how these assets can best be applied, and to what effect. They also know how to avoid the hubris of “funder knows best” thinking, which can lead less self-aware organizations into dangerous territory.

by the numbers


Percentage of executive leaders who feel that outcome measurement is not a barrier for effective communications.


Number of foundations who have commissioned CEP’s Grantee Perception Report.


Number of grantees who have completed CEP’s Grantee Perception Report about a funder.

tips and insights

Communication leaders are more likely to see measurement as a barrier than executive leaders are.

There are many audiences you can learn from, including declined grant applicants, past and present donors, board members, peer funders and former employees.

There are many ways foundations can encourage grantee feedback. A simple place to start is on your website, by sharing email addresses and creating easy-to-use feedback mechanisms.