Note from Beth: At the end of the day, organizations that are committed to learning will be more effective at meeting the needs of the people they serve. Learning is the ultimate result of being “data informed” that is using feedback data to improve results. GlobalGiving has just launched GG Rewards, a new program rewarding nonprofits that are committed to learning and improving. They have also provided resources for nonprofits to learn how to use tools to get feedback in the Feedback Commons or the DIY Toolkit, and join GlobalGiving to earn points (which leads to more funding!) by using those tools to become more effective. (Or, if your nonprofit is already a member of the GlobalGiving community, you’re eligible for a grant of up to $2,000 to help you experiment with feedback tools!) Alison Carlman, Senior Manager, Marketing and Communications, has written this guest post about how to use some tools and techniques for using feedback.
Five Ways to Help Your Nonprofit Learn from Feedback (and Earn More Funding Too!) – Guest Post by Alison Carlman
For a company to stay competitive, it must understand its customers’ wants and needs, and adapt products to suit them. Sounds obvious, right? Seemingly, the same model should apply to nonprofits. But the social sector often lacks that vital piece—feedback about the quality of products and services—that is so important to a business. (If customers don’t like a product, they won’t pay for it! But people don’t always have a choice if there’s only one group providing clean water in the village.) As a result, nonprofits’ programs and services aren’t always designed to meet the changing needs of the community.
Perhaps you know of GlobalGiving as the largest global crowdfunding community for nonprofits. But what you might not know about is GlobalGiving’s commitment to helping nonprofits become more effective by listening to the people they serve, acting on what they hear by testing new ideas, and learning faster and more efficiently. We call this the Cycle of Progress: Listen, Act, Learn. Repeat. We believe that organizations that are committed to learning are the ones that will be more effective at meeting the needs of the people they intend to help.
Here are some tips and tools to help you Listen, Act, Learn, and Repeat, thereby helping your organization become more effective:
1. Ask for feedback from the people you intend to help. The most important stakeholders in your work are the people you intend to help. How are you asking for their opinions about your programs and services? Telerivet allows you to conduct a mobile phone survey of them—or anyone—with a mobile phone through SMS (no internet or smartphones needed.) If your survey audience has access to the internet, SurveyGizmo helps you design surveys and collect and analyze feedback online.
2. Collect stories from your local community (not just the people involved in your programs). Collecting stories from people who aren’t direct participants in your programming is a great way to understand the problems the broader community experiences, and the solutions they do (or don’t) appreciate. Their answers might be much less biased than those of your direct contacts. The GlobalGiving Storytelling Tool lets you build a questionnaire, gather stories from the community, send in your responses, and analyze your results.
3. Organize your program data so it is accessible. Most organizations still use paper forms to collect information, and don’t have the time or resources to make that data useful in a digital format. Captricity is a tool that extracts data from forms and documents. Try the free version. Batchgeo is a free mapping tool that helps you visualize the data that lives in your spreadsheets.
4. Integrate feedback and make a plan to move forward. Once you’ve gathered data from important stakeholders, completing a SWOT Analysis can help you map the internal and external factors that are assisting or hindering you. This can be a helpful framework for developing a plan to move forward, based on your new learning.
5. Share your learning with your stakeholders. It’s important to share your results with your stakeholders, but when you have so much data and feedback, this step can sometimes feel overwhelming. The Charting Impact Questionnaire helps your organization tell its impact story in an accessible, concise way, and it might even help you sharpen your approach to making a difference.
We at GlobalGiving are so passionate about helping nonprofits become more effective, that we just launched GG Rewards, a new program rewarding nonprofits that are committed to learning and improving. Our nonprofit partners can earn points for using any of the tools above (and many others) to Listen, Act, Learn, and Repeat. More points leads to a higher Rewards Status, and a higher Rewards Status leads to more visibility and more funding from GlobalGiving, our donors and corporate partners.
We expect to generate at least $6 million in additional funding for nonprofits this year (outside of what our partners raise themselves). With the new GG Rewards, we’re now channelling that extra funding to the organizations that learn and improve the most!
You can access more feedback and effectiveness tools in the Feedback Commons or the DIY Toolkit, and join GlobalGiving to earn points (which leads to more funding!) by using those tools to become more effective. (Or, if your nonprofit is already a member of the GlobalGiving community, you’re eligible for a grant of up to $2,000 to help you experiment with feedback tools!)
What other online resources are valuable to help you Listen, Act, Learn and Repeat?