How feedback helps nonprofits and funders lift up clients as heroes

When Betty McCay finished a 27-year prison sentence in California and approached the Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO) in Oakland for job placement, the last thing she expected to provide was feedback on running the program.

“In prison,” she said, “Feedback isn’t necessary. Feedback isn’t sought.”

Eventually she overcame skepticism and responded to a text survey. McCay’s simple idea for improvement, shifting a daily work-signup call from participants out in the field to counselors at their desks, not only struck a chord, but CEO implemented it within a week. “When you feel that you’re being listened to…that what’s happening with you matters,” she said, “It makes you want to give more.”

Stories like Betty’s are just one reason that Fund for Shared Insight, a funding collaborative that includes nearly 100 funding partners, is investing to make client feedback a third, standard element of nonprofit measurement, alongside program monitoring and third-party evaluation. Since 2016, Shared Insight has helped more than 200 nonprofits implement a simple, anonymous client survey system developed in partnership with SurveyMonkey.

This survey, used by CEO and others, is helping nonprofits surface ideas for course correction and innovation. It’s also surfacing revealing detail about clients’ experiences and aspirations that can add authenticity to nonprofit communications and cast clients as protagonists in narratives of social impact.

Read the full story at The Communications Network. 
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