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CAF Resilience programme

LISTENING FOR THE FUTURE

This report looks at how small charities use feedback, and how they should act on it to build their organisation’s resilience.

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Summary of the findings

  • Feedback is a key component of resilience for smaller charities. Charities that actively listen and respond to their constituents are more likely to provide better quality, relevant services in a way that people can engage with.

  • Small charities can benefit from external help on reviewing and improving their feedback processes.

  • There are things small charities can do that will help them improve their feedback processes. These include having a clearly identified constituency, getting buy-in from the whole organisation and dedicating resources to this.

  • Feedback is important at all levels in the grant cycle. Feedback is usually thought of as something received by a charity from their beneficiaries or constituent. But funders should also value feedback from the charities they give grants to.

  • Funders have a role to play in encouraging small charities to engage with feedback.

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About the report

This report shares learning for funders about the ways smaller charities engage with feedback, and how they can use it to build their organisation’s resilience.

The report is based on work that Keystone Accountability undertook with the 10 charities on the CAF Resilience programme. Keystone Accountability worked with each charity to review the feedback systems they had in place to listen to their constituents (by which we mean intended beneficiaries and other stakeholders), and identify where Keystone could improve the process using their ‘Constituent Voice’™ methodology.

Why using feedback is important

Feedback, or more broadly stakeholder and community engagement, was identified right from the start of the CAF Resilience programme as a key component of resilience for smaller charities. Without asking the people who are supposed to benefit from a charity’s services what they think about the organisation’s work, charities run the risk of unwittingly providing services that are either not meeting people’s needs, or that are poorly designed and delivered.

Charities that actively listen and respond to their constituents are more likely to provide better quality, relevant services in a way that people can engage with. They're also more likely to have a useful source of evidence to demonstrate that impact to the outside world.

Feedback is valuable for these characteristics of resilience:

Strategy

Organisational strategy must be shaped by a deep understanding of whether the services offered are the right ones and resilient organisations must adapt to what they are hearing from their constituents.

Engagement

Creating feedback loops – where people are informed of the changes made as a result of their feedback – motivates stakeholders to engage further. It can be assumed that communities which feel they have some ownership within a charity and can impact how it operates are more likely to support it financially or otherwise.

Quality and trust

Effective listening, coupled with responding to what people say, drives the quality of what a charity delivers and fosters positive relationships between charities and their constituents.

Relevance

Ensuring the charity responds to feedback and changes their services based on insights can help ensure they continue to be relevant and accountable.

Read the full report

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