Performance Scorecard

We exist to do the most possible good with the resources given to the community by Archie Bush, and our performance scorecard is a look into how we’re doing. With the scorecard, we want to both demystify our work and show some of the ways we are trying to do more good every year. We also hope that by sharing this information we can grow public understanding and trust in our work and live our operating values more fully.

To develop the scorecard, we did a lot of community outreach to understand what people wanted to know about us. That outreach also informed our community questions, which serve as a companion piece to the scorecard. It's more than just a typical Q&A. It's another way in which we strive to be radically open. Check them out here.

Follow this link to share any feedback or questions about the performance scorecard, community questions or anything else on your mind.

Curious about what it took to develop the scorecard? Check out our learning paper, Radically Open: Performance Scorecard.

What We Fund

We are, at our core, a grantmaking institution. Our grantmaking includes grants, fellowships, and program related investments. This section highlights indicators related to where our grantmaking dollars are going.

Make the region better for everyone

Percent of 2023 grantmaking to advance racial &/or economic equity

  • Racial and economic equity 72%
  • Racial equity only 20%
  • Economic equity only 1%
  • Neither 7%
Why it's important to us

In everything we do, we’re working to make the region better for everyone. We continuously try to understand who is not doing well and focus our resources there.

One way we track how we are doing is understanding how much of our funding is advancing racial and economic equity.

how we're doing

We’ve had a stated goal since 2012 for at least 50% of all of our funding to advance racial and/or economic equity in the region. We are currently exceeding that goal by quite a bit, as 93% of our 2023 funding meets this standard—up from 91% in 2022 and 18% back in 2012.

what's next

Top of mind for us is our commitment to place, particularly the challenges and opportunities unique to rural areas within our region. We are actively learning more about the overlaps of race, class and place — and considering how the Foundation’s funding commitments can have the most impact.

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Support community-driven change

Percent of 2023 grants & PRIs made through community grant partners & to community-led efforts *

  • Through community grant partners 65%
  • To community-led efforts 21%
  • Other 14%
Why it’s important to us

Change efforts are far more likely to succeed and be sustained when they are owned and shaped by the people most impacted by the change.

We work across three states and 23 Native nations, so we are not truly of any one community. To do our work well, we seek to work in close consultation with organizations that are better positioned to make decisions related to communities.

How we’re doing

In 2023, 86% of our grants and program-related investments (PRIs) were made through community grant partners and to community-led efforts. In the past few years, we have upped our commitment to working with partners to share more power in our grantmaking and work in deeper partnership with communities. We do this in two ways: by supporting work through our regular grantmaking that is shaped and driven by people from the communities affected by those efforts; and through grantmaking partnerships in which other organizations regrant Bush funding.

What’s next

This measure is a tricky one for us and we are working to get better on our definition and how we track it.

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Support Native people and Native nations

Percent of 2023 grantmaking to support Native people and Native nations
Why it’s important to us

We believe that investing in Native people and Native nations is one of the highest impact things we can do. The challenges facing Native communities are profound, and we see extraordinary people and institutions with big ideas throughout Native nations and Native communities in our region.

How we’re doing

Across all our grantmaking, our support of Native people and Native nations dropped from 68% in 2022 to 19% in 2023. This major difference comes from seeding two community trust funds totaling $100M - $50M in 2022 to support Native people in the region and $50M in 2023 to support Black people in the region. If we remove these two $50M commitments from overall funding calculations, our support of Native people and Native nations held relatively steady, landing at 40% in 2022 and 41% in 2023.

What’s next

We are committed to influencing the field of philanthropy to invest more to benefit Native people.

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Reduce racial wealth gaps

Progress toward our goal of $50M to address racial wealth gaps by 2025
Why it’s important to us

Wealth matters a lot. Wealth makes a huge difference in a person’s ability to weather challenges and take advantage of opportunities. That’s why wealth is such a big factor in predicting a child’s life outcomes.

How we’re doing

In 2020, we raised $100 million through social impact bonds to create two community trust funds ($50 million each), designed and operated by two steward organizations — Nexus Community Partners and NDN Collective.

We announced in 2021 that we would commit another $50 million through our regular grantmaking programs to help reduce racial wealth gaps. That commitment originally was planned to be a five-year goal (by 2025) — and we achieved it in two. We are currently at $68 million.

What’s next

We reached our milestone but are still looking for opportunities for Black, Indigenous and people of color in the region thrive in our economy and build wealth for themselves and those to follow.

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How We Fund

We believe that how we do our grantmaking matters as much as what we fund. This section highlights aspects of our grantmaking approach and why we believe it matters.

Make it easy to work with us

How 2023 applicants rated our process versus others *

  • much better 40%
  • somewhat better 26%
  • about the same 14%
  • somewhat worse 5%
  • much worse 0%
  • did not apply to other funders 15%
Why it’s important to us

We want people who apply for a grant with us to have a great experience — one that’s as simple and helpful as possible. Through a supportive application experience, we hope we can help people develop their ideas and get some value from the experience whether they are funded or not.

How we’re doing

We survey applicants and grantees, and use that feedback to continuously improve the applicant experience so we can do more of what’s working well and stop doing what’s not. For this indicator, we look across the three main programs we operate: Bush Fellowship, Community Innovation and Ecosystem grants. Our most recent applicant survey data suggests 66% of applicants find our processes better than other foundations.

What’s next

We will continue to reflect on feedback and work to improve and adapt the applicant experience.

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Respond to applicants quickly

Initial application response time for 2023 Community Innovation grant applicants

  • 1-2 weeks 10%
  • 3-4 weeks 31%
  • 5-6 weeks 29%
  • more than 6 weeks 30%
Why it’s important to us

We know that the time between submitting an application and getting an answer from us is stressful for applicants, and it puts them in an unproductive holding pattern as they wait. We also balance that desire for responsiveness with the desire to give thoughtful consideration to each application.

How we’re doing

While this is important across all our programs, we are using an indicator for Community Innovation grants because it is a rolling program and so each applicant is on a unique review timeline. For these applicants, 70% receive initial responses within 6 weeks.

What’s next

This is a new metric for us. We’re excited to be monitoring it and looking for ways we can do better.

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Support people to think bigger and differently

2023 Bush Fellowship applicant rating of how helpful the application process was in thinking bigger & differently *

  • extremely helpful 48%
  • at least somewhat helpful 46%
  • not helpful 6%
Why it’s important to us

The future of communities in our region will be defined by what the people in them believe they can be. That’s why we want to take every opportunity to encourage people to think bigger and think differently about what is possible. We also know that applicants spend a lot of time and energy to submit their proposal to us.

How we’re doing

We are glad that 94% of Bush Fellowship applicants say the application process helped them to think bigger and think differently. However, this percentage is down from 99% last year, so we want to learn more about why that changed.

What’s next

As part of our “more good every year” operating value, we routinely make community-informed improvements across all our programs. Every five years we do a deeper review of each program, which happened last year for the Bush Fellowship program.

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Bring as many perspectives as possible into decision making

People participating in 2023 grantmaking decisions, by self-identified race &/or ethnicity *

  • Identify as Black, Indigenous or people of color 66%
  • Identify as white only 33%
  • Chose not to respond 1%
Why it’s important to us

We’re making decisions that affect lots of people across our region. We believe the more diverse the perspectives at the table, the better our decisions.

We think about diversity of decision makers in a lot of ways — in background and identity and life experience. For this indicator, we are highlighting race and ethnicity.

How we’re doing

Currently, 66% of our staff and board members and community selectors who participate in grant and Bush Fellows selection self-identify as Black, Indigenous or people of color. This reflects an intentional effort on our part to consider the diversity of perspectives among decision makers at the staff, board and community selector level.

What’s next

We continually work to build the skills of curiosity and awareness so that we are able to appreciate and understand how our own experiences and biases might shape our responses.

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Be as open and accessible as possible

Percent of 2023 grantmaking through open processes

  • Granted through Bush Foundation open process 34%
  • To be granted through partner open process 65%
  • Not open process 1%
Why it’s important to us

All of our main funding opportunities are done through open application processes. This is part of our commitment to equity and making sure everyone in the region has the opportunity to (1) know about any funding opportunities we offer and (2) apply if they believe they are a fit. We want everyone in the region to have access to the Bush Foundation — no matter who they are or who they know.

How we’re doing

In 2019, we set a goal of having 100% of our funding go out through open process. We are currently at 99% — which is up from 97% last year and 71% back in 2019. This combines the grantmaking through programs we operate and the funding that is regranted through community grant partners.

What’s next

We are working to hit our 100% goal by thoughtfully and respectfully transitioning legacy grants and relationships to open process. We are getting close!

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How We Operate

We want to do good in everything we do — as a grantmaker, an employer, an investor, a consumer, etc. This section highlights some of the ways this shows up in our operating practices.

Use our spending for good

Percent of non-grant payout to businesses owned by people in a priority demographic group *

  • Owned by 1 or more people in priority group 48%
  • Owned by people not in priority group 18%
  • Chose not to respond 34%
Why it’s important to us

Our commitment to do the most possible good with the resources left by Archie Bush goes beyond our grantmaking. We regularly rely on the services of a variety of businesses, from independent contractors to larger companies, to help us get things done. We believe all the money we spend should benefit the region as much as possible.

The indicator we have included to show this commitment focuses on who owns these businesses. Based on research and data, we have identified six groups of people that face unique barriers and/or have lower success rates in starting and growing businesses: people who identify as Black, Indigenous or people of color (BIPOC); women; LGBTQ+ people; refugees and immigrants; people with disabilities and veterans.

How we’re doing

In 2023, we know that at least 48% of our non-grant payout went to businesses owned by people who self-identify as Black, Indigenous or people of color (BIPOC); women; LGBTQ+, refugees and immigrants; people with disabilities and veterans. We don’t have a specific goal but given the fact that these groups make up more than half of the people in our region, we would like to see this go higher. In addition, 84% of our spending stays in the region.

What’s next

In 2023, 12 of the 57 businesses we worked with did not or declined to respond to our vendor demographic form. We want to be more intentional about requesting this information from every business and hope to reach a 100% response rate in 2024.

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Grow our capacity to do more good

Percent change in total assets between 12/31/2022 and 12/31/2023
Why it’s important to us

Our only source of revenue is the investment earnings from our endowment — the funds left to us by Archie Bush. We don’t fundraise and we don’t sell things. Our ability to make grants is wholly dependent on our investment returns so it’s imperative that we manage those investments well.

Archie intended the Bush Foundation to be around to benefit communities in perpetuity. To continue providing at least the same level of benefit to communities over time, the earnings on our investments must cover what we pay out plus the rate of inflation.

How we’re doing

Financial markets rebounded in 2023 after a difficult 2022. Our endowment was up 8.7% for the year and is currently valued at $1.3 billion. Because financial markets can be volatile resulting in positive or negative returns in any given year and because we are a long-term investor, we use the average of our total assets over the last three years to determine the annual dollar amount for our grantmaking.

What’s next

We will continue to invest our assets to allow us to do the most good for the communities we serve. This generally means having a long-term perspective around how we invest, and investing wisely to give us the flexibility we need to be as responsive as possible to our region.

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Put more of our assets to work for good

Progress toward May 2024 goal of $100M in active impact investments
Why it’s important to us

As a foundation, our grantmaking is the most obvious way we use our assets for good. Less visible but equally important is how we use non-grant investments to advance our purpose. This is guided by our impact investing approach.

How we’re doing

In May 2024, we surpassed our $100 million impact investing goal ($72 million are investments in our endowment and $32 million are PRIs).

We set a three-year goal back in 2021 of having at least $100 million in impact investments. These are non-grant investments we make to advance our three impact objectives: making capital markets more equitable, supporting business and community development in our region and investing in sustainable climate solutions.

What’s next

Now that we have met our impact investing goal, we are working with our board in 2024 to set our next goals.

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