2021: Our Grantee Partners’ Feedback – Both the Good and the Bad

Categorized as: , , , , on February 12, 2022. Related Grantees: Bean Voyage, Tech Me, Embrace Her, Idea4Africa, KadAfrica, Preserve International.


Photo by Jon Tyson via Unsplash

Editor’s Note: One of the examples of our foundation’s trust-based philanthropy methodology is keeping our nonprofit partners’ reporting requirements to a minimum. Towards the end of each year, we have an outside consultant contact each of our partners to set up a thirty-minute conversation where the partner is able to discuss their accomplishments and challenges from the past year, as well as priorities for the coming year. The partners also have the opportunity to anonymously convey what they think SFF is doing right, but more importantly how we can improve as funding partners. The consultant then produces a report that our board reviews. Over the years we have made significant changes in our approach based upon this feedback.

That is the extent of our reporting requirements. We feel strongly that much of the data on operations and impact is available through our partners’ websites, newsletters, and social media. Additional reporting requirements provided to us individually just makes more work for our partners. We’ve summarized some of the results of our 2021 Partner Feedback Report and we are pretty amazed at what these organizations were able to accomplish amidst the ongoing pandemic.

By Sally Skees-Helly, President and Director


A Bird’s Eye View

As with just about everything, Covid-19 was the predominant force for our partners in 2021. All of our partners adjusted in some way to the consequences of the pandemic in order to continue to serve their clients. For some, this meant pivoting to virtual training for participants and scaled down or remote work for staff. Some of our partners explored new programmatic areas to address the needs at hand, such as food insecurity and gender equity. Many partners saw this as an opportunity to extend the depth and breadth of their impact, with some actually expanding their programs into additional countries. Some were able to reach more clients through virtual training than they could have in person. Several partners took on completely new programs, such as mental health, realizing the toll the pandemic was having on their communities.

Not surprisingly, most of our partners faced challenges with fundraising, as events were cancelled for another year, and many US funders moved much of their giving to US or Covid-19 related organizations due to the pandemic.


Our Partners Rock!

Catalyst Partners


Bean Voyage was especially active with collaboration in 2021, working with Starbucks Foundation to help with food insecurity, and partnering with the Institute of Coffee to draft a gender policy that has since been submitted to the government of Costa Rica. They are also working with Needle Frame to train five of their smallholder coffee producers to film and produce a documentary telling each of their individual stories. Bean Voyage’s move to digital training allowed them to reach 200 coffee producers compared to 60 pre-virtual and in person. They plan to expand into Mexico in 2022.

In December 2021, Bean Voyage held the closing ceremony of the year with their facilitators. 


Idea4Africa is all about expansion. In 2021, they added a country director in Liberia, in addition to their existing presence in Uganda and Rwanda. Furthermore, they intend to expand into Burundi in 2022. Until the pandemic, Idea4Africa brought students from Wheaton College to work directly with the local students. After being cancelled in 2020, Idea4Africa was able to create a virtual program where the Wheaton students mentored African students virtually, realizing this approach allows broader reach and expansion.


KadAfrica was able to start new programs in refugee settlements in Uganda. In reaching these new clients, it became apparent that many were more concerned with food shortages and day-to-day survival than the threat of Covid-19. One of their goals is to increase the amount of basic goods they are able to give to these families. They also plan to pilot a mental health curriculum in 2022 that links mental health to sexual reproductive rights and gender-based violence.

In December 2021, KadAfrica beneficiaries in Kyaka 2 graduated!


Seed Partners


Embrace Her grew one of their programs from 12 to 40 women. The organization sees that remote options allow for the expanding of existing programs to more locations. And their Ambassador program will expand to all ten provinces of Zambia, training in financial literacy and business education and mobilizing the young people in the community.

In September, Embrace Her had a vision board session during their Women Connect event.


Preserve International provided food and supplies to quarantine centers during the year. They are looking forward to starting a canning program in 2022 and will expand their focus from post-harvest (dehydration) to include pre-harvest (agricultural inputs and best practices). Preserve International, as others, recognizes the mental health issues brought on by the stresses of the pandemic and is determining what culturally relevant mental health programs might be implemented.

Seed distribution day with Preserve International.


TechME saw an increase in recruitment from the layoffs in 2020. They have shifted their focus from self-employment training to training women for tech-sector jobs. They are planning to open their own computer lab to alleviate the expense of renting and will expand some of their programs from training just women to including the many men that have shown interest.


What We Can Do Better

We took to heart the areas of improvement our partners suggested (anonymously). We will try to improve making connections between our partners and other funders. Working to increase our network of funders is up to us. Based on feedback, we would also like to facilitate more connections between partners, both past and present, to foster conversations around common expertise and experiences.

All of our partners are small, young, international organizations. But it appears their size and entrepreneurial spirit allowed them the nimbleness to make changes quickly and effectively, as well as tighten their belts as funding declined. We are proud to say that not one of our partners have had to close their doors after two years of this awful pandemic. We look forward to seeing the strides they make as we hopefully all move into some semblance of life with a more manageable Covid-19.


LEARN more about all of our partners here.

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