A new report prepared by Fund for Shared Insight ‘s learning and evaluation partner, ORS Impact, guides nonprofits and funders in what to look for, what to focus on, and how to create listening and feedback practices that support their equity work. Feedback and Equity: Connecting the Dots calls out examples and patterns of practice that demonstrate how feedback delivers insights to inform changes in programs and policies that advance equity, and how the act of listening itself influences organizational change.

ORS interviewed staff members at six nonprofits that participated in Shared Insight’s feedback initiative Listen4Good, exploring the extent to which feedback contributes to their understanding of the inequities their clients face and how they leverage feedback and listening practices to give clients more control over resources and decisions.

Among the key findings:

  • Organizations are shifting from having power over clients to building power with clients, and feedback and listening contributed to those practices.
  • Collecting client feedback doesn’t automatically make organizations more equitable; they must intentionally design processes and create a culture that infuses equity into the way they gather and use feedback to understand and address the inequities clients face.

ORS Impact’s Juan Clavijo, a co-author of the “Connecting the Dots” report, writes in a Feedback Labs post more about the findings and shares on-the-ground examples from the participating organizations. He also highlights a thought-provoking framework for the relationship between feedback and equity: Listening and feedback practices can act as a catalyst, mirror, or compass for nonprofits on an equity journey.

In a related Center for Effective Philanthropy blog post, Valerie Threlfall, managing director of Listen4Good, describes how the practice of feedback can shift power, including by creating the preconditions for sustained partnerships between nonprofits and their clients, such as  the “cultural norms, positive habits, and broad accountability measures that keep organizations honest in their attempts to share power.”

About Listen4Good

For more information about Listen4Good and the exciting opportunities for nonprofits and funders to participate, please visit the program’s website.

Next L4G registration deadline: May 15, 2022