What our Feedback Fund applications tell us about the challenges in feedback loops

Here are some lessons drawn from GlobalGiving’s ongoing Feedback Fund, an experiment to improve the ways organizations listen to people. Last time I shared examples of feedback loops. This time the lessons are about how using data about feedback loops can help us make smarter funding decisions.

Feedback Labs (a consortium co-founded by GlobalGiving in 2013) provides a convenient self-diagnostic quiz that organizations can use to understand how well they are listening to the people they try to serve. It breaks the feedback process down into six steps:

sample-quiz-cycle

Answering a few questions gives you an overall score. In my hypothetical example, I need to do more community dialogue.
sample-quiz-score

We asked all Feedback Fund applicants to take this quiz and analyzed their existing feedback systems. It tells us what they do well and what they struggle with.

More effective organizations struggle the most with community buy-in

The chart below shows quiz scores for all applicants. Scoring at least a 100 (y-axis) means you’ve can listen effectively. If an organization has mastered the other five parts in a feedback loop (design, collect, analyze, dialogue, course correct), buy-in remains the hardest step.

good-orgs-struggle-with-buy-in-feedback-loop

At the opposite end of that chart, the red dots represent organizations that struggle with many stages of the feedback loop. They have no system to absorb feedback into their programs. Many of these organizations choose to start by “collecting feedback” first. Their applications were very focused on how GlobalGiving could help them collect data, sometimes ignoring the other five steps entirely.

However, we believe the first thing organizations ought to focus on, because it yields the greatest improvements, is better dialogue with some course correction based on feedback. Statistically, better dialogue correlated the most with higher scores. This is the hardest step, and it doesn’t require technology. It requires intentionality within the organization.

When we found ourselves in the unusual role of a Grantmaker choosing organizations,  we decided to give organizations at both ends of the spectrum funding to experiment with feedback loops. What we cared about most was whether they had really thought about how feedback could help them improve a specific program. Later, I ran this analysis of quiz scores against the organizations we chose to fund (in green) and those we chose not to fund (in red dotted line below):

funding vs feedback loop strengths in cycle

Guess what! The average feedback quiz scores for each part of the loop are pretty much the same between grantees and non-grantees, except in the case of dialogue and course correct. These steps are harder than the others, and differentiate great organizations from the rest, as I shared previously.

Even without the quantitative scores, our team could tell from the qualitative data (written applications) which organizations were more interested in using the fund to expand their community dialogue and course correct steps. Yay for qualitative data!

I believe an honest conversation with the people you aim to serve is far more valuable than pages of numbers in a spreadsheet. And it is much easier to quantify conversations with people than you think.

 

#GivingTuesday + GlobalGiving’s Recurring Match Campaign

#GivingTuesday + GlobalGiving’s Recurring Match Campaign

We all know the importance of year-end fundraising, but sometimes it sneaks up on us. That’s why GlobalGiving will be running our eighth Recurring Match Campaign from December 1 through December 31, 2015, to help incentive your donors and start your year-end fundraising on a high note.

The Recurring Match Campaign will launch on one of the largest globally celebrated giving days of the year, #GivingTuesday. Last year alone, The Case Foundation estimates that nonprofits (whose data was available) raised more than $45 million on #GivingTuesday. That’s more than $45 million in just 24 hours! Check out the full report here.

Throughout the years, GlobalGiving has found great success with this campaign. Since the first Recurring Match Campaign launched in August 2012, this campaign has raised more than $1.4 million dollars from 6,241 donors for projects on the GlobalGiving platform! We hope you see the value in this campaign for your year-end fundraising, and there’s no better day to kick it off than #GivingTuesday.

Here are our best tips for making the most of the Recurring Match Campaign on #GivingTuesday (December 1st):

  • Know the ins and outs of the Recurring Match Campaign. Make sure to take a look at the campaign terms and conditions and communicate them clearly to your supporters. Please take a look at the full terms and conditions of the campaign on our website, but here are the highlights:
    • The initial gift of new recurring donations created on GlobalGiving.org will be matched 1-to-1 up to $200 per donor per project. Eligible recurring donations of $201 or larger will be matched at $200.
    • Although donors are required to setup a recurring donation, only the first donation will be matched. This is not an repeating monthly match. This helps us ensure that more projects can benefit from a steady stream of recurring donations.
    • To be eligible for matching, the recurring donation must last for at least three months after the initial donation (a minimum of four donations total). So, for example, if you start a new recurring donation this December, keep it active through January, February, and March, then your initial donation from December will be matched.
  • Get the word out about #GivingTuesday + the Recurring Match Campaign to your existing network. Signing up for a recurring donation is a much bigger commitment than making a one-time donation. Focus your outreach on individuals who have supported your organization before since they already know and trust the work your organization does.
  • Use the power of storytelling and visuals to share the importance of your recurring donation ask.  Highlight one of your programs and share about the impact that your organization’s project has had on the community in which it works or a story about a constituent that a project has benefited. Share with your supporters how much more could be achieved by ensuring a steady flow of donations through a recurring donation and the match provided by the Recurring Match Campaign. Include a photo of a constituent and/or a project that highlights your work (after getting permission) to engage your donors visually. Make sure it’s high resolution.
  • Make it easy for people to set up a recurring donation. Stress the added value of making a recurring donation during this promotion. Let your donors know that their recurring donation will receive a one-time 100% match! Emphasize that #GivingTuesday is the perfect time to start their recurring donation. Share a direct link to the donate monthly tab on your project page in all of your donor communications.
  • Check out givingtuesday.org for more information about #GivingTuesday. The folks at the 92nd Street Y (where #GivingTuesday was dreamed up) have put together fantastic information on the importance of and how to share the power the #GivingTuesday with your supporters.

We hope that #GivingTuesday is a successful fundraising day for your organization! If you have any questions about the Recurring Match Campaign please contact projecthelp@globalgiving.org.

 

Meet the winners of our 2015 Fail Forward Contest!

Meet the winners of our 2015 Fail Forward Contest!

Failure. Failed. Fail.

These aren’t words most people like to say, but we think it’s time to change that and embrace failing forward. If you haven’t heard of the concept of failing forward before, it’s a learning tool that allows you to examine and share your failures, and critically think about how you can build upon them to fuel future success.

While many of us are happy to examine our experiences of failure, we often feel apprehensive about sharing them. But it’s precisely the act of sharing failure that’s critical to an organization’s learning, innovation, and growth.  That’s why we recently invited our nonprofit partners to share a time they failed with us and their supporters in our annual Fail Forward Contest.

Deepak Sharma, who works with Rajasthan Samgrah Kalyan Sansthan and took part in this year’s contest, summed up the spirit of failing forward perfectly: “Failure is an opportunity to begin again more intelligently, it is not opposite of success, it’s a part of success and we believe it.”

We loved learning from all of this year’s Fail Forward Contest stories and we hope you do too!

Fail Forward Winners

Sumando Manos' "Pediatric Services In Remote Areas Of Argentina" project.

Photo from Sumando Manos’ “Pediatric Services In Remote Areas Of Argentina” project.

Winner, $1,000:  Sumando Manos – “We learned that there is no short term or one time solution and there are realities that even we cannot imagine…We learned about ourselves, we learned to listen more, to be more patient and compressive, so we can understand the specifics of each situation, in each place, and meet the people and their needs.” Read More.

Yspaniola Incorporated's "Literacy For Dominican-Haitian Youth In The Batey" project.

Photo from Yspaniola Incorporated’s “Literacy For Dominican-Haitian Youth In The Batey” project.

2nd place, $600: Yspaniola Incorporated – “We realized that for volunteers to truly learn and employ the complex host of professional and educational skills required by Summer Camp, more is not necessarily better. Rather than providing opportunities to as many young people as possible, we could better serve the community by putting more resources into fewer volunteers.” Read More.

Military with PTSD's "Help 2,500 Disabled Veterans With PTSD" project.

Photo from Military with PTSD’s “Help 2,500 Disabled Veterans With PTSD” project.

3rd place, $400:  Military with PTSD – “When we reflect on our choices and actions, we can see that yes, mistakes were made. It did not end us, so we look at what we can learn, where can we improve, and we laugh at ourselves. In the end, we spent much more on the cost of the program than we received monetarily, but learning how to evaluate ourselves and find areas to learn and grow is not something we can gain without the experience we went through. Which will better help us prepare and execute ‘Explosion of Kindness 2016.'”  Read More.

More Great Fail Forward Stories 

Awamaki's "Capacity-Building For Rural Women Artisans In Peru" project.

Photo from Awamaki’s “Capacity-Building For Rural Women Artisans In Peru” project.

Awamaki – “To measure economic success, we have started doing observational studies of the women’s homes to gauge wealth. We visit and observing the number of household appliances, the material the floor and roof are made of, whether there is a bathroom, etc.). We have also started running focus groups to approach the answers we sought from the Well-being Survey. We plan to invite a small group of women to the office, serve food, ensure a comfortable environment, and have a general conversation among the women instead of a direct interview with each individual. We think that these issues will be easier to address in a low-key group setting, rather than a rushed interview that puts each individual on the spot.” Read More.

Smiles Forever's "Send Homeless Bolivian Woman To School For A Year" project.

Photo from Smiles Forever’s “Send Homeless Bolivian Woman To School For A Year” project.

Smiles Forever: “For nearly all of our 15 years of serving the indigenous women of the Cochabamba, Bolivia area, we have inadvertently excluded young mothers.  Last year, we listened when young mothers knocked on our doors.  They wanted a better future for themselves, so that in turn their children’s lives would benefit.  These mothers had extra incentive to succeed in a career.  We no longer turn away women who have children.  We have discovered another calling in educating these women who already understand responsibility.  Our students who are mothers act as role models!” Read More.

Cycle of Learning

One of our core values at GlobalGiving is Listen, Act, Learn. Repeat. But sometimes the first three steps — Listen, Act, Learn. — teach us that we shouldn’t Repeat, at least not in the same way. And that’s a good thing. A solution is more often than not an iterative process. So we encourage you to keep that cycle of learning going by continuously listening, acting, and learning — and don’t forget to share your findings with your supporters and constituents to show your pride in trying new things, and your tenacity to try again in a different way.

 

Net Promoter System: Experimenting with SMS surveys in the Philippines

Net Promoter System: Experimenting with SMS surveys in the Philippines

At GlobalGiving, we believe that collecting and using feedback from constituents is an important part of the development process.  We have been working to discover tools and practices that make it easy for nonprofits to listen to those voices.  One of the tools we’re exploring is the Net Promoter System.

You may have heard us talk about to the Net Promoter System (NPS) before. You have probably even answered the NPS question before! The Net Promoter System) is a tool that was developed by Bain & Company for the for-profit sector to measure how loyal a customer is to a certain company- and consequently serves as an indicator of future profit. The NPS score is based on a 0-10 scale response to the following question: How likely is it that you would recommend our company/product/service to a friend or colleague?  This question divides customers into three categories: Promoters (who give a score of 9 or 10), Passives (who give a score of 7 or 8), and Detractors (who give a score of 0-6). The score is then determined by subtracting the percentage of Detractors from the percentage of Promoters. Passives are ignored in the equation.

The score is useful when used in two distinct ways: when compared to other companies within a specific industry (which gives you a basic ranking system), but more powerfully when companies use the feedback provided in the common follow up question (“Tell us more about why you chose this score”) to make changes which move more of their customers into the Promoters bucket.  

The NPS has been used for over a decade in the for-profit sector, and is considered by many to be the single most useful question a company can ask its customers.  

Similarly, we think this could be a powerful, inexpensive, and easy tool for nonprofits to use to understand how their ‘customers’ feel about the work they’re doing.  We wanted to test this by asking this question to via a short SMS survey to a group of constituents served by GlobalGiving nonprofit partners.

Designing the Pilot

In June 2014, we began exploring what a pilot experiment around NPS via an SMS survey would look like. We decided to use the FrontlineSMS platform to send out the surveys. We then needed to decide where and with whom it would make most sense to run this pilot. We considered several factors, such as familiarity with SMS surveys, mobile use among the targeted population, and whether potential GlobalGiving partners were already using digital communications with those they serve.

In October 2014, after running an application process with Philippines-based GlobalGiving nonprofit partners, we selected three organizations to help us run this pilot: Mercy in Action, HOST-NGO, and International Disaster Volunteers. One of the reasons we chose to run this pilot in the Philippines was that one of our staff members would be traveling there for site visits and could provide in-person support before the launch of the surveys.

What We Did

Check Out Your New Project Page on GlobalGiving

Check Out Your New Project Page on GlobalGiving

Today GlobalGiving launched a test of a new project page concept. You may see that your project page looks different or  you may not and that’s because we are doing an A/B test before we decide to launch the product fully. Instead of me sharing why I think this test is so exciting for you, I’ll let the team that created this new design share their thoughts. Yesterday I sat down with members of GlobalGiving’s Product Team (Alison, Acacia, and Nick, and Kevin) so they could tell us more about how and why the page is changing:

Why did GlobalGiving decide to update project pages? What’s the goal of having redesigned project pages?

We’re updating the entire site this year, and launching it in phases. The goal of the redesign is to improve the ease and speed with which potential donors find and give to your project. We’re also working to make it a much more beautiful experience on both desktop computers and mobile devices. Our ultimate goal is to help you, our nonprofit partners, showcase your work, and to help donors have a great giving experience.

What was the redesign process like? What kind of user feedback did you and your team collect in order to feel comfortable with the current design?

We have a small team of GlobalGiving staff working on the redesign, but we’re consulting internal and external stakeholders for feedback at various stages. We invited current nonprofit partners, staff, and a handful of users to share their thoughts and experiences with the new design. We feel like we’re at a good place to test out what we’ve come up with, so we’re launching an A/B test to find out whether the new design actually helps users move through the donation process more easily. This means that for the next two weeks or so, only a portion of users will see the new design, and others will still see the old design. We want to make sure that the new design is helping, and not hurting, donation completion rates.

As you and your team were testing and collecting information on the user experience (UX) of the redesign from varied users, did any feedback challenge your original assumptions?