The Power of Feedback
The Power of Feedback
In this multimedia series, sponsored by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, voices from the social sector will offer tactics, tools, and advice gleaned from the grassroots to encourage nonprofits and foundations to make listening to their constituents—and acting on what they hear—a smart norm for any organization committed to improvement.

As part of the Power of Feedback series, Stanford Social Innovation Review conducted a survey of 1,986 nonprofit, foundation, and other charitable sector leaders. The survey found that 88 percent of the leaders prioritize gathering client feedback, and 44 percent of them see it as a “high priority” or “top source of insight” for continuous program improvement.

However, the survey also showed that only 13 percent of social sector leaders believe they have been able to turn their feedback aspirations into a reality. When asked about the causes for this disparity, two-thirds of those whose organizations were not collecting client feedback stated that the greatest barrier to implementing feedback systems was limited staff time and/or resources, and 20 percent of respondents said it was “too complicated” or “too costly.”

“The case for gathering feedback from the people you are trying to help seems obvious, but the practice is still rare—often for lack of resources and know-how,” said Larry Kramer, president of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, which is looking for ways to incorporate feedback into its own grantmaking. “We have a lot to learn, and I’m encouraged by the growing recognition among funders and nonprofits alike that listening to the people we seek to help can make us more effective. It’s the right thing to do, the smart thing to do—and, with new technology, it’s an easier thing to do.”

You can view the survey results below: