Is Your Nonprofit Listening…Really?













Retain & Engage Constituents With A “Voice Of” Program


Successful corporations routinely solicit feedback from customers in order to nurture relationships with them and keep products and services relevant to the needs of those customers. The practice has become so widely adopted that an entire industry of consultants and platforms and methods has been developed to support these “Voice of the Customer” programs. Does your nonprofit organization employ this technique to collect feedback from donors, volunteers, staff, members, beneficiaries?


If not, it may be time to start.


In the article “Listening to those who matter most, the beneficiaries” the authors discuss “voice of the beneficiary” programs and look at ways in which feedback can be collected and analyzed and how it can be used to improve an organization. While the article focuses on social services, particularly health care and education, the insights shared apply to all nonprofits. Collecting feedback from those who touch your organization gives you an opportunity to learn, to change, to grow. Done right, it can also be a means to deepen relationships with constituents and encourage greater financial support.


Giving constituents a voice and truly listening to what they say requires a little bit of structure, strategy and analysis.  Here are a few key elements to consider when putting together your program:


    1. Goal:   Be sure to identify a specific goal. The more specific your goal the easier it will be to craft a survey and collect the feedback you seek.  Be sure to get the buy-in of all key players who may be responsible for responding to results.
    2. Audience:   Identify audience segments. You may or may not present the same survey questions to donors, board members and beneficiaries. Even if you do, responses may vary based on a respondent’s relationship to your organization so you will want to be sure to group and track responses accordingly.
    3. Means:   How will you gather the feedback you seek? You want to consider multiple channels (i.e., online survey promoted via email and social media, printed survey shared in your office or at events, one-on-one or group interviews).
    4. Measurement:   How will you review, and summarize results? With whom will the results be shared and how?
    5. Response:   How will you respond to the data collected? Are you prepared to make changes to your programs? Alter your marketing/brand? What about complaints/criticisms? If you are going to solicit feedback, you must be prepared to respond. (This is why buy-in at step one is so critical!)


Ideally, this type of program is an ongoing exercise. Once one iteration is complete, set a new goal and begin again.


Looking for more insights? Check out the articles below: