Lesson 5: Reflection

Earlier in the semester we discussed the role of stakeholders in a nonprofit and how they can influence and shape the activities of the organization. We spoke about gathering feedback from the intended beneficiaries of these programs to learn about the effectiveness of the services provided. In the article, “Listening to Those Who Matter Most, the Beneficiaries,” Twersky, Buchanan and Threlfall explain that by engaging stakeholders, nonprofits are better able to evaluate the value added to the community. Surveys and assessments can help determine if the organization is fulfilling its mission and if the outcomes are truly impacting its targeted population. This is essential to building a successful nonprofit. However, there are three main challenges that often prevent nonprofit leadership from conducting organizational evaluation; the cost, difficulty collecting data and fear that the results may highlight the inefficiencies and ineffectiveness of the nonprofit’s mission and their approach. The last point was very surprising. Though there is no nonprofit organization that wants to admit failure, beneficiary feedback can provide organizations with valuable information needed to improve and build better programs to achieve a vision.

The article continues to discuss methods to administer surveys and obtain feedback within a health care and education setting. The authors offer two examples that have had positive outcomes: YouthTruth, a program designed by the authors to learn about the student experience and Hospital Care Quality Information from the Consumer Perspective (HCAHPS) which measures patient-centered and accountable care. Twersky et al. provide best practices for collecting data and integrating feedback into the organization. They suggest gathering feedback at different points of the program, so that feedback can be incorporated before the program concludes. They also recommend researching and designing a survey that will collect the kind of response that can help shape activities and impact your approach, while also making sure to tailor surveys to receive responses from all of the affected community.

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2 Responses to Lesson 5: Reflection

  1. Thank you for your post. It sounds like many times we connect or associate fear with the word “evaluation”. In a previous management class, our professor made us appreciate the word feedback. I remember her teaching us about feedback framing it as an “Act of love”. She made me realized that although we may brace ourselves for an evaluation based on hearing things we might not feel so great about, an evaluation is an opportunity to catch something, acknowledge it, learn from it, and improve on it.
    When it comes to an organization, like our reading mentioned, I agree with getting feedback from everyone involved: beneficiaries, staff, management, even anonymous reviews online, all with the idea of gathering the information and planning how to be better, what to implement, continue implementing, etc.

  2. KLee says:

    I thought that point in the article was interesting as well, the prospect that some non-profits feared feedback from beneficiaries because their approach would be called into question. Evaluations are meant to assist in development in helping an organization or even an individual to improve or become more efficient, to point out areas of improvement that person they were not aware of. Sometimes the approach that was applauded by its developers may turn out not to be the best way to help its beneficiaries. Feedback helps an organization avoid failure.

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