At Keystone, we are very quick to make the argument that listening to those you aim to serve is not only the right thing to do, but also the bright thing – a way to not only better understand impact, but more importantly as a way to improve impact.
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet. Or so we are told. But is it true? Words are powerful and we use them carefully to evoke certain feelings and emotions. For example, the vast majority of international NGOs work in “partnerships”. What does this word partnerships evoke? Shared mutual benefits perhaps? Shared risks? Collaboration between actors who jointly deliver activities, supporting each other and holding each other to account? I would argue[…]
Like it or not, those with the cash set the agenda. They influence where we work and what we focus on. That is not to say they choose the wrong things or that they don’t take others’ views into consideration, but never the less, they choose. And the rest of us respond. It also affects how we measure and monitor our work, reporting on the things donors want us to report on. This can be[…]
Are international non-governmental organizations ready to surrender control to southern partners? Along with accountability and effectiveness, localization – essentially the process of handing over of control of programmes to locally based actors – dominates the discussions about how international NGOs (INGOs) should behave. And it is easy to see why; the issue of localization affects all INGOs whether working in development or humanitarian contexts. At the recent World Humanitarian Summit, yet again calls were made[…]
Last summer, the Blagrave Trust with support from Keystone Accountability set out to learn more about what youth-oriented charities do to listen and respond to the young people they help. Keystone spent time with key staff from eight Blagrave partners to understand and document their youth feedback related practices. Among the eight partners, there was a growing recognition of the importance and value of listening, and as a result feedback was becoming a higher priority[…]
Having seen a recent and rather controversial weight-loss advert here in the UK, I decided, along with the majority of others I suspect, that I was not ‘beach body ready’. I didn’t really need the advert to draw the conclusion, but none the less I decided I needed to do something about it. More specifically, I decided to do more exercise and to find out once and for all if I too had a rippling[…]
Coventry has a history of listening to people. During the Second World War, the people of Coventry wanted to voice their support for the Soviet Army during the Battle of Stalingrad, and their voice was heard. Coventry and Stalingrad were twinned, to promote mutual understandings and improve relationships. The practice of twinning has continued to this day, as has Coventry’s tradition of listening. In the 2015 Guardian University League Table, Coventry University sat at 27,[…]
In a recent blog, Patricia Dorsher comments that “It is a particular feature of aid that people on the ground are often not involved in activities affecting their communities”. Patricia makes the case for not only shifting resources to those with greater need, but also shifting other sources of power, such as agenda setting; “Agenda setting is one of the most potent tools for those with limited traditional resources. The ability for citizens to voice[…]
For anybody interested in feedback, technology offers huge potential; the potential to reach communities, the potential to do so affordably, and the potential to access such feedback in real time. At Keystone we view these three elements as key to effective listening. Aleem Walji, director of the World Bank’s Innovation Labs recently spoke about technology as a “real game-changer”, giving us the ability to use simple technologies like mobile phones to “listen at scale”. In his[…]
Having provided the reasoning and rationale behind gathering feedback about our relationships with our partners and intermediary organizations, Kai discusses Keystone’s Performance Surveys, which benchmark principal-agent type relationships for international NGOs, impact investors, grantmakers and social change networks. In doing so, he focuses on the practical side of this kind of feedback, exploring key findings from some of the Keystone Performance Surveys and the value organizations have found they get from participating. Read the full blog here.