August 6, 2009

Our history

Keystone was born at the beginning of the century out of a dissatisfaction with weak measurement and performance management among organizations dedicated to creating social value. While recognizing the need for better after the fact evaluation in the social sector, our emphasis was on real time measures, and their implications for decision making across all and organization’s constituents, from those meant to benefit from their work to funders, government and society-at-large.

From 2001 – 2003, David Bonbright initiated discussions on the need for new measuring and reporting practices for social change. These discussions culminated in an inception report, published in 2003. The following year, David’s employer, the Aga Khan Foundation, seconded David to the initiative. Initial seed capital from the Omidyar Network and Hewlett Foundation allowed Keystone (then known as ACCESS) to come into existence.

AccountAbility hosted Keystone and operations began in September 2004. Senior staff quickly came on board, including co-founder Andre Proctor, based in South Africa. The board of trustees was assembled.

From 2004 onwards the organisation benefitted from widely respected advisors including: Srilatha Batliwala, Anabel Cruz, Jed Emerson, Simon Zadek, Catherine Odora-Hoppers, Alnoor Ebrahim, Jacinto Gavino, Sanjeev Khagram, Mark Orkin, Jamey Power and others.

Subsequently, Keystone engaged in a range of piloting, learning and development activities, including with the Philippine Council of NGOs and the Nelson Mandela Foundation. We refined our tools and models, deepened our knowledge of the field, and built a strong network of accountability innovators. In parallel with this methodology development work, we delivered a variety of services to clients.

By 2007 we had discovered that the largest benefits related to improved measurement practices were those that captured the voices of an organization’s constituents. We built a concept and methodology for doing this that we named Constituent Voice.

Since 2008, Keystone has continued to refine our methodology, develop our innovative partnership survey and work with a range of clients, including the World Bank, Gates Foundation, and Care International. We started Ground Truth Solutions in 2012 to bring Constituent Voice to the humanitarian space. In 2013 we helped found Feedback Labs as a clearinghouse and laboratory for good feedback practices.