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Demographics Survey of Staff, Project Directors, and Team Members — Frequently Asked Questions

In 2020 the Commonwealth Fund (“the Fund”) began working with the Center for Effective Philanthropy (CEP) to collect demographic data that reflect some of the attributes that contribute to the diversity of our society and provide a deeper understanding of the demographic profile of the Fund’s staff, Board, grantees, and fellows. In 2023, the Fund fielded this survey again for its staff and grantees. Frequently asked questions about this survey and the data being collected are below.

Why is the Commonwealth Fund conducting this survey?

As a foundation committed to collecting and understanding data to inform policy, the Fund wants to collect demographic information about its staff, Board, grantees, and fellows to understand the diversity of its stakeholders. The Fund has some information thus far about the demographic profiles of its staff, Board, grantees, and fellows from the 2020 survey. It is crucial that we continue to collect and make sense of this important information if we are to uphold our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. To that end, we have worked with CEP to repeat a survey to collect individual-level demographic data from staff, project directors, and project team members for recently awarded and active grants.

The Fund will receive only aggregate results; the names of individual respondents and individual responses will be kept confidential by CEP. The Fund does plan to report aggregate findings about the demographics of its staff, Board, project directors, and project team members on its website or in other public spaces. While CEP may provide the foundation with data aggregated in a number of ways, in order to guard the privacy and the confidentiality of respondents, the foundation will not receive any subgroup analysis unless there are more than 10 respondents.

What is the Center for Effective Philanthropy?

The Center for Effective Philanthropy (CEP) is a nonprofit organization focused on enhancing the impact of funders. CEP’s mission is to provide data and create insight so philanthropic funders can better define, assess, and improve their effectiveness and, as a result, their intended impact. Over the past two decades, CEP has conducted numerous surveys of tens of thousands of grantees, foundation staff, and trustees across the nonprofit sector.

What questions will the survey ask?

This short survey covers questions about the respondent on a number of demographic dimensions, including birth year, gender identity, race and ethnicity, sexual identity, and ability status. All questions provide a “prefer not to say” option for respondents, allowing respondents to skip any survey question.

How were the questions in this survey developed?

There are many widely accepted definitions and classifications for the ways an individual might identify. In creating the questions and definitions included in this survey, the Fund and CEP relied on best practices drawn from a variety of sources and received feedback on drafts. Acknowledging that there is not yet one right approach to collect this information, the Fund and CEP also wanted to ensure that all individuals are represented in the response selections and included options to write-in an identity if preferred.

Some sources guiding the creation of this survey are:

Why did I receive this survey?

The Fund is encouraging all current staff, project director(s), and project team members of recently awarded and active grants to respond to this survey. Participation in this survey is voluntary.

Can I forward this survey to a colleague?

No, please do not forward this survey. This survey is meant for you as an individual given your role in collaborating with the Commonwealth Fund.

Is my response really confidential? How will my response be used by CEP and the Commonwealth Fund?

Your response is completely confidential. Only CEP will see your answers to these questions, and your name will not be associated with your response as CEP processes these data.

Whether or not you complete this survey is entirely up to you, and whether you do so will have no bearing on the Fund’s engagement with you. In fact, no one will know whether you completed some or all or none of this survey. CEP will aggregate your response along with the information provided by other respondents and may perform cross-tabulation analyses with the data. Only aggregate findings will be reported back to the Fund. The Fund plans to report aggregate findings about the demographics of its staff, Board, project directors, and project team members on its website or in other public spaces.

How can I provide feedback about the survey content, methodology, or next steps?

The Fund and CEP welcome your input about the survey. The last question in the survey provides an optional opportunity to provide written feedback. Please note that CEP will share any answer you provide directly with the Fund. However, your response will not be connected to your name or any other answers you provided as part of the survey.

What if I do not want to complete this survey or receive any reminders?

Please keep in mind that all questions provide a “prefer not to say” option for respondents, allowing you to skip any survey question. If you wish to unsubscribe from the survey list, however, please locate the survey invitation from Joyce Cheng at [email protected] and click the unsubscribe link at the bottom of the email.