May 11, 2016


Turning high scores into low scores, or overcoming courtesy bias


Overcoming courtesy bias – the tendency of people to tell you what they think you want to hear – is challenging. Especially in situations with a power imbalance. But for feedback data to be useful it has to be honest. One of our clients came up with various ways to overcome this courtesy bias and find ways to persuade constituents that being frank is in everyone’s best interest. The Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO) provides

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Thou shalt not…only do what you are told

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

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Development data – what is it good for?


Keystone believes in the power of data and benchmarking to improve how we do development. However, it is not always easy to come by. The International Aid Transparency Initiative is supposed to make information about aid easier to access, use and understand. It is the first (and only) standard for how organizations and governments are supposed to publish information about how they spend their money, who it goes to, and what it’s for. However, agencies

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Peace Direct introduces two way reporting to partners


International non-governmental organizations often ask a lot of partners in terms of reporting requirements – but how many provide reports in return? This simple innovation, introduced after receiving feedback from partners has changed the dynamic for INGO Peace Direct. Peace Direct, which supports local peace-building organizations, engaged Keystone to survey their partners about the state of the partnerships. They discovered that reporting to partners is an important step in accountability. Tom Gillhespy, Head of International

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What not to do with survey results

Today we explain what not to do with the results of our Partnership Survey. Firstly, having commissioned the survey, paid for it and more importantly partners have spent time answering it – don’t ignore it. Even if you don’t like the results it is important to try and understand why your partners feel that way about your organization. The very best way to find out more about their responses is to talk about it with

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Using feedback to measure CECP’s impact


Keystone Accountability has been working with CECP, a coalition of CEOs who believe that societal improvement is an essential measure of business performance, on feedback loops. In the guest blog below Courtney Murphy, CECP’s Director, Strategic Initiatives, explains what they discovered. Over the course of the past year, CECP, with guidance from Keystone Accountability, has been systematically collecting feedback from our companies to improve our work and help us measure the impact we as an organization

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In partnering, rules don’t work but principles might

Localization makes partnerships in development all the more important. In this guest blog Ros Tennyson, Director of Strategy at The Partnership Brokers Association discusses the challenges of multi-stakeholder partnerships in development. Multi-stakeholder partnerships for humanitarian relief and sustainable development are much promoted (especially by donors) as the way to tackle the complicated and complex challenges we face. As a passionate advocate of such collaboration, I agree this approach is critically important BUT… only if those involved really grapple

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Taking the survey is the first step – it is what happens next that counts

Oxfam Haiti

Oxfam is serious about partnerships and so joined 76 other international non-governmental organisations in taking Keystone’s Partnership survey, which solicits views from partners. “The results were not particularly shocking to those of us working in programs although we hadn’t expected we would do so poorly,” said Makarand Sahasrabuddhe Program Quality Lead for Oxfam International. “The data was a gift. It came from over 800 partners. It pointed clearly to the fact that they did not

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The drive towards localization

Localization Haiti

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

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WaterAid explains how they used Keystone’s partnership survey

Apolonia Barreto of WaterAid Timor Leste facilitating a participatory partnership mapping exercise. Credit Tim Davis/WaterAid

Collaboration is a core value of international non-governmental organisation (INGO) WaterAid. The organization knows it can only achieve universal access to water and sanitation (WASH) by working with others including government bodies, civil society organisations, academic institutions, donors, other NGOs and the private sector. WaterAid wants to develop empowering and mutually accountable and respectful relationships but knows this is easier said than done, especially when channelling money to other organizations. In some cases, a focus

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