By Renee HoFebruary 4, 2016

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Denver Frederick, radio host for the Business of Giving, recently interviewed David Bonbright, Chief Executive of Keystone Accountability and member of Feedback Labs.

Aside from giving some great examples of when feedback is the smart thing to do—that is, when it improves the programs and outcomes organizations care about— Bonbright gave some straight-talking advice about how to collect good feedback.

Here are two key [abridged] takeaways:

There is an inherent power dynamic in aid and philanthropy, or whenever someone gives and someone else receives. If you’re asking for feedback, and I’m on the receiving end, can I really trust you? Do you have a different end-motive in mind?
If people understand it’s in their interest to be candid, they will be candid. If you haven’t done your homework to earn their candor, they won’t give it to you. I say it takes three to six months to earn peoples’ trust so they see that [the honest feedback] works.
After the novelty of being asked for feedback wears off, is there a danger of survey fatigue?
The historical pattern dominated by social science is to use surveys as a research exercise. We don’t do that. We ask one or maybe two questions, at the most. One of my favorites is the “voice” question:
“To what extent is it worthwhile for you to engage with this organization to make it better for you and your family?”

Best thing is to listen in on the whole interview, available if you click here.

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