Incentivizing a Culture of Feedback Among Funders

People are at the heart of what we do. We believe that it is our responsibility as funders to solicit feedback from the people we seek to serve in a meaningful way, and be willing to make changes based on that feedback to better serve our grantee partners. 

Since 2017, we’ve supported Feedback Labs, a nonprofit that aims to make feedback the norm in aid, philanthropy, nonprofits, and government. We’ve evolved and grown over the past 7 years in our individual ways, but have held on to our shared belief that feedback is the right, smart, and feasible thing to do.

When we began our partnership, we focused on supporting nonprofits to listen well. We hosted a crash course for our grantees, attended Feedback Labs Summits (2020, 2022, 2023), and amplified the feedback message. With the help of a Labstorm, we added feedback into our own grantmaking process, which has evolved to become an annual organization-wide moment of reflection and iteration (see: 2023 feedback report). 

However, we’ve also realized it’s not enough to convince nonprofits to listen; indeed many wanted to, but face a lack of time, resources, and know-how. Rather, we have to change our behavior as funders to make it possible

The Feedback Incentives Learning Group is a group of funders and philanthropy supporting organizations dedicated to exploring ways to support nonprofits and motivate foundations to listen to and act on feedback from those at the heart of their work. At the heart of the learning group is the hypothesis that when stronger rewards for organizations that listen well are in place, thousands more nonprofits and funders will improve how they listen and respond to the people they serve.

This case study reflects on what we’ve learned as a group and our aspirations to bring more foundations into the fold. As philanthropic funders, we are uniquely positioned to serve as a catalyst for systems change around feedback. We can use our power to address misaligned grantee incentives and re-center community voices. To learn more about this group and work, reach out to Feedback Labs here.

Read the case study here.