Grigory Okhotin and Leonid DrabkinOctober 21, 2019

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OVD-Info is a human rights project that monitors politically-motivated prosecutions in Russia. They run a telephone hotline and legal chatbot, provide lawyers in court and pay for the work of analysts and journalists to protect human rights.

In order to ensure that they are accountable to their primary constituents, OVD-Info has partnered with CIVICUS Resilient Roots to design a data-driven primary constituent accountability project. They are focused on 5 main groups of constituents: activists, journalists, donors, readers, and the OVD-Info staff. They collect feedback from these constituents through a wide variety of tools, including F2F interviews, online surveys, bots, and analytics from their website traffic, social media, etc. Almost all of the quantitative information and data (including the number of calls on our hotline, number of likes on Facebook, average donations, etc) feeds into a dashboard that tracks, interprets and analyzes their performance on key indicators. .

Building an accountability mechanism is no small feat. Though OVD-Info has made great strides towards measuring and responding to all of their constituents’ needs, they have also run into some issues. OVD-Info came to the LabStorm group for advice working through various roadblocks, such as communication with constituents and team buy-in.

The LabStorm group had great advice on how to integrate quantitative and qualitative feedback into a data-driven and responsive constituent accountability mechanism. Here are the main takeaways from the discussion.

  1. For the full picture, integrate qualitative and quantitative data. Right now, OVD-Info’s internal dashboard automatically fills with quantitative metrics about the number of calls received, the activity on their website, donations and more. Qualitative feedback that comes to OVD-Info through surveys and chatbots is analyzed separately from the dashboard. LabStorm attendees suggested that in order to get the full picture of constituent opinions and analyze their accountability, OVD-Info should track qualitative feedback alongside the quantitative data in the dashboard. Of course, it is a technical challenge to get verbatim comments into the dashboard in a streamlined and actionable way. One option that LabStorm attendees suggested was to gather Net Promoter Score from constituent surveys. This numerical 1-10 metric turns qualitative opinions into a quantitative metric that can be easily integrated into the dashboard. That way, OVD-Info team members can easily analyze trends in qualitative feedback.
  2. Prioritize staff engagement with the dashboard. In order to be accountable to constituents, OVD-Info staff must monitor their performance metrics and adjust accordingly. But it is difficult to get staff to check the constituent accountability dashboard frequently because they are busy answering hotlines and responding to urgent needs. In order to get staff buy-in and make constituent accountability central to OVD-Info’s work, there must be an easy and regular management procedure for all heads of departments to review and respond to information on the dashboard. If this process is standardized simple, it will be much easier to integrate into managers’ workflows. LabStorm attendees also suggested that the dashboard should be open and accessible to the whole team, so they can check in on overall organizational health and feel like they are part of the accountability process.
  3. Report back to constituents frequently. Some feedback, such as a comment about an error on the website, is easy to resolve. Other feedback, about legal services or other complex issues, takes more time to respond to. In both cases, however, OVD-Info can make constituents feel important and valued by letting them know that they heard their comments. LabStorm attendees suggested setting up a “What You Said, What We Understood, and What We Did” page on their website to address constituent feedback. Constituents can visit the page and see that OVD-Info is accountable to them, and working towards addressing their complex needs. This system also takes the weight off the back of OVD-Info, because there is no immediate need to respond and allows them enough time to work through larger problems.

This LabStorm reminded us of the difficulty of integrating feedback in a politically-tense and time-constrained environment. We were so impressed by OVD-Info’s commitment to accountability even in the face of so many challenges. Have you seen another organization embrace accountability to serve human rights? Leave a comment below or send us a message at [email protected].

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