People are paying more attention to how nonprofits listen to the people they serve. Leading foundations increasingly value nonprofits that have strong feedback practices. They want to support organizations that actively solicit—and act on—feedback.  Information about how specific nonprofits gather and respond to feedback is also becoming more visible to individual donors every day. What does this emphasis on feedback mean for your nonprofit?

When you hear “feedback,” are you picturing employee feedback, performance reviews, donors giving feedback, or feedback from volunteers? While worthwhile, that’s not the kind of feedback we mean. Even when “feedback” goes by other names—constituent voice, client feedback, or community engagement—fundamentally, we’re talking about systematically listening to the people your organization serves.

According to Feedback Labs, “Research and the experiences of the hundreds of nonprofits and funders in our network have shown that listening—and most importantly responding—to feedback from the people you serve is a great way to improve outcomes and promote equity.” For example, Outreach Chicago, a member of the Feedback Labs network, recently wrote, “Organizations can make a much larger impact by taking seriously the day-to-day conversations from their clients. The answers to ‘how do we make this program better’ often lie not in a grant report but in the voices of the streets.”

Next, what do we mean when we say foundations want to know if you’re seeking feedback and that it’s increasingly visible? We mean that funders are paying deliberate attention to and investing in feedback practices. For example, almost 800 philanthropy organizations signed the Council on Foundations’ Call to Action: Philanthropy’s Commitment during COVID-19 pledge, which specifically highlights “listening to our partners and especially to those communities least heard, lifting up their voices and experiences to inform public discourse and our own decision-making so we can act on their feedback.”

Read the full article about feedback by Eva Nico, Ofira Bondorowsky, and Megan Campbell at Charity Navigator.