May 11, 2016

Blog

When Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World was first published it was considered pretty controversial. Years later the shock had subsided and it was no longer seen as contentious as it had been in 1932. In a recent blog, Brad Smith of the Foundation Centre talks about the Brave New World of Good, where “the terrain of good is disputed by social entrepreneurs, social enterprises, impact investors, big business, governments, and geeks”, not just non-profit organizationsRead More
When I was working for a large NGO, I spent part of my time trying to make the organization more accountable to local partners and beneficiaries. My task was to understand how well our accountability practices were working and to explore how to improve them. Many interesting things came out of our surveys and focus groups, but two things stuck in my mind. First, it is difficult to interpret the ratings given by partners inRead More
When you look at a list of Keystone clients, you might well ask yourself, “What can these organizations possibly have in common?” They range from the world’s largest commercial carpet manufacturer to the President’s Office in South Africa. Our clients are tackling poverty, reducing environmental impact, enhancing smallholder agriculture, battling disease, fighting crime, creating jobs, and much more. But what they all share is something that makes them different from the vast majority of theirRead More
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 voiceRead More
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 hisRead More
 Every sector has its misconceptions: stereotypical ideas about how the sector works, its values and how people both within and outside the sector perceive it. In this blog I present five ‘fun facts’ that come out of feedback data we collect at Keystone. They are yet another illustration of why, as a sector, we need so badly to have systems in place for hearing the voices of those meant to benefit from our work. AtRead More
Nonprofits are preparing to meet the new Charity Navigator Ratings system. Charity Navigator evaluate whether charities have healthy finances and policies in areas like conflict of interest and donor privacy. But soon all of the nonprofits that Charity Navigator rates, will have to do more than that to get good marks. It will also have to show that it measures whether its programs actually work. Read more about Charity Navigator’s plans and how organisations areRead More
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.Read More
Dennis Whittle has published an important piece on the signficance of feedback loops. His discussion of how feedback loops can subvert the prevailing mental model (top-down; expert-driven) and the limitations of RCTs is particularly relevant. A must read for all those seeking to make development organizations more responsive and adaptive. http://international.cgdev.org/publication/how-feedback-loops-can-improve-aid-and-maybe-governanceRead More
Bridgespan’s new report provides an excellent overview of and framework for thinking about constituent engagement. It provides an excellent complement to Dennis Whittle’s recent paper on feedback mechanisms and the earlier Twersky and Threlfall SSIR article. The field of Constituent Voice is building its own literature!Read More