On The Road Blog
Forging Links in the Development Feedback Loop—GFC’s Value-Added Services Survey
Development organizations are often criticized for neglecting to gather feedback from the people with whom they work. When organizations fail to complete feedback loops with the populations they serve, they change their priorities to align with major donors and don’t take into account the needs or reactions of the people they’re trying to help. This disconnect means that a well-meaning organization may not have its intended or greatest possible impact.
A variety of methods have been proposed to address this issue. Organizations are conducting larger-scale and more rigorous impact evaluations to show that what they’re doing is working. While this movement toward more standardized and transparent monitoring and evaluation is a step in the right direction, it is only one piece of the puzzle. At GFC, not only are we constantly pushing ourselves to grow our own metrics and learning, but we are also getting direct and inclusive feedback from all of our partners to complement our larger-scale data.
One way we do this is by conducting a biennial Value-Added Services Survey to elicit feedback from our grantee partners across the globe about how we do our work, the quality of our services, and the value of the services we provide. This survey places GFC into the feedback loop. The name of the survey is derived from the different capacity-building opportunities, or value-added services, we offer to our grantee partners as part of the “strengthening” portion of our model.
In December 2011, GFC conducted its first Value-Added Services Survey. The survey was redesigned two years later and was sent to our grantee partners in February 2014. Survey results were analyzed and shared with the GFC team to improve our grantmaking and capacity building. In an effort to continue to learn from these findings, we want to share them with the larger development community and our grantee partners.
Highlights from the 2014 Value-Added Services Survey
Our grantees are engaged: We had a 62 percent response rate (representing 174 respondents from 64 countries).
We help our grantees get noticed: 82 percent of respondents agreed that GFC has helped take their organization’s visibility to a higher level.
We prioritize information over paperwork: Over 85 percent of our grantee partners find our forms and processes accessible and appropriate. The major challenge for most is familiarity with online systems.
We do much more than give grants: 91 percent of respondents agreed that GFC is unique because we offer services that strengthen their organization, in addition to providing program support.
We value relationships: Grantee partners appreciate their personal relationships with GFC. 99 percent of respondents said that their relationship with their GFC program officer was useful to their organizational development.
Our grantees value our strategic model: The most valued services we provide, according to the survey, are:
- Primary grants (flexible funding for our grantees’ programs)
- Opportunity grants (targeted funding that enables grantees to take advantage of conferences, trainings, and other learning opportunities)
- Knowledge Exchanges (GFC’s forums for grantees to share best practices, forge strong networks, discuss organizational challenges and methodologies, and learn about broader issues affecting children in their communities)
- Organizational development grants (funding that enables grantees to work with local organizational development experts to address specific organizational needs such as strategic planning, fundraising strategies, or monitoring and evaluation systems)
To see a more detailed picture of the results of the survey, please explore these links, including a one-page summary of some of our most interesting findings, a Prezi presentation, and the PDF version of the Prezi presentation.
GFC isn’t the only organization making progress on institutional processes to complete feedback loops. Coalitions such as Feedback Labs are encouraging the development sector to be more responsive. Each organization, no matter its size, can begin to reconnect the feedback loop by:
1) Valuing grassroots partners
2) Asking the right questions
3) Listening to the answers
4) Sharing the stories
5) Adapting to the realities presented
And then doing it all over again.