It’s nearly impossible today to rent a room or buy a product without the company asking about your experience so that it can improve and innovate. Yet while systematically engaging customers or beneficiaries is the quickest, cheapest way to identify areas for improvement, nonprofits and funders—even those hooked on measurement—can do more.
A growing chorus of social sector players are advocating for a greater emphasis on listening. Gathering feedback not only provides a valuable stream of insight on program effectiveness to investors and investees, but also gives dignity and respect to those they seek to help. What’s more, organizations shifting from gathering data about beneficiaries to gathering input and ideas from them are seeing gains beyond quickening the pulse and quality of measurement and evaluation. These organizations are supporting constituent self-advocacy in ways that can increase equity and inclusion or even change systems.
This series, produced with support from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, will explore the power of feedback—including how it can inform strategy and empower others.
Starting this September, through February, the series will present commentary from leaders who are improving strategies and services through customer insight in fields as diverse as philanthropy, criminal justice, public health, and technology. It will also include videos and podcasts featuring beneficiaries who are seeing positive change from others listening to them, and audio-slideshows on how to make feedback part of organizations’ existing measurement systems.
As in the practice of feedback, the series’ richness will come from readers, listeners, and viewers sharing their own stories about customer insight and influence, and their reactions to others’ commentary. We encourage everyone to share at #feedbackempowers.
This series was produced for Stanford Social Innovation Review by Milway Media with the support of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.