After producing a five-month, multimedia series on the power of client and community feedback, Stanford Social Innovation Review conducted two audience surveys to understand the campaign’s influence. The results reveal that organizations increasingly plan to collect feedback and are devoting more resources to those efforts. Respondents also expressed ongoing challenges to making feedback a norm in program measurement and evaluation. This data can inform the road ahead for feedback in the social sector.

A larger survey, conducted as part of registration for the webinar, probed the state of organizations’ feedback practices. The 2,000 respondents affirmed some encouraging trends, which were consistent with results from a similar survey completed by participants in the campaign’s opening webinar last October. However, challenges to making client feedback a measurement norm remain. Last month’s survey of 2,000 echoed the following results from October:

  • Thirty-eight percent of organizations described their feedback efforts as sporadic at best.
  • Sixty percent said they don’t gather feedback more often because of limited staff time and resources.

Larry Kramer, president of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, says the challenges embedded in these results indicate the need for “a culture shift.” We have to ask why client feedback isn’t seen as a core element of program measurement and evaluation in the first place.

But raising awareness of the power of feedback is only step one. To achieve a sustained culture shift, we need much more activity, experimentation, and listening, at both the nonprofit and funder levels. We see three main opportunities going forward:

  •  Busy nonprofits need tools and resources to help them build high-quality feedback systems easily and efficiently.
  • We need more foundations to do the hard work of putting clients at the center by listening to and connecting with their communities.
  • Finally, across the board, we need a significant change in mindset.

Read the full article about the road to client feedback by Valerie Threlfall & Kelley D. Gulley at Stanford Social Innovation Review.