Bain & Company’s Rob Markey hosts a casual conversation with Habitat for Humanity to learn how the Net Promoter System (NPS) has been adopted as a learning and management tool in the nonprofit sector.
Adopting NPS for the nonprofit sector is not as simple as directly transferring a tool that was developed for the private commercial sector. The usual NPS question, “On a scale of 0 to 10, how likely are you to recommend this product/service/company to a friend?” doesn’t always hold.
Habitat for Humanity has pioneered the use of NPS in the nonprofit sector, using it mainly as a tool to gauge and learn from its volunteers’ experiences. The organization depends on volunteers for its core services and so this kind of engagement survey is critical to its operations.
A few things stand out from this podcast:
- In the nonprofit sector, there are a lot more constituents than just the end-customer. The nonprofit ecosystem is complex and sometimes the usual NPS question has to be adapted for these different constituents.
- Power dynamics in the nonprofit sector can skew Net Promoter scores. If you ask a Habitat for Humanity constituent —someone who is applied to be a homeowner in the competitive Bay Area housing market and was accepted— the usual NPS question, you might get some extremely high NPS scores. These scores may be less telling of the Habitat for Humanity service and more telling of the extreme desperation in the housing market.
- The very process of getting feedback from constituents is not purely extractive. It helps to enhance the relationship between service provider and constituent.
- One strength of NPS is that—as a learning tool that feeds data back to frontline service providers— it creates a greater feeling of ownership and ability to follow-up and course-correct. At the same time, we wonder how this lack of “customer” or “beneficiary” anonymity plays out in different contexts. Will other types of constituents feel sufficiently safe to give honest feedback?