Lesson Five: Reflections

To Whom Are Non-Profits Accountable?

Of the assigned articles for Lesson Five, “Listening to Those Who Matter Most, the Beneficiaries” spoke to me the most.  So many times a nonprofit organization or institution is far more consumed with pleasing donors or board of directors, or rankings or public relations, than the impact it has on its beneficiaries.

The article noted the juxtaposition of “the requirements of who is paying versus the unmet needs and aspirations of those meant to benefit.”

If you have 100 people walk through your door for help and you only assist 50 people, is that true success? It is wonderful that you helped 50, but what about the other fifty.  Do program evaluations include a thorough review of the “failures”  to determine how the programs can be tweaked in order to reach more beneficiary? For the sake of efficiency and impact  there should be greater effort made to acquire the feedback of beneficiaries and to actually take actions based on that feedback.  How seriously is feedback taken in the  program evaluation process?  It takes great humility and a sense of self-awareness to pursue beneficiary feedback. What incentives are in place to encourage non-profits to pursue beneficiary feedback?   As the article noted some nonprofits don’t want the type of feedback that would “call our approach in question.”

Listening to the beneficiaries could be the very difference between success and failure when it comes to have meaningful impact.

Non-profits are accountable to many different stakeholders, but the ones to whom nonprofits should be the most accountable to are the beneficiaries.


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One Response to Lesson Five: Reflections

  1. k.rouse says:

    I think you’re right, efficiency should always be a measure in program evaluation. I have done program evaluations and used efficiency as a measure, but I am not sure if non-profits always use efficiency, or always measure efficiency the right way. 50% success sounds a lot worse than helping out 50 people. Great point.

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