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Smart Thing


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Most members and supporters of Feedback Labs instinctively believe that feedback is the “right” thing to do in aid and philanthropy: after all, shouldn’t we listen to the people we seek to serve?

In May 2016, we made a first attempt to explore whether, and under what conditions, feedback is the “smart” thing to do – whether it improves outcomes in a way that is measurable. Click here for highlights of the "smart thing" evidence.

Feedback Labs released a draft paper interrogating the concept of feedback as the “smart thing” to do in aid, development, and philanthropy. The draft paper sought feedback from practitioners and experts and was followed by the Smart Summit - a convening to begin addressing how to bring about improvements in these fields. We incorporated the comments and feedback received and published the full paper, Is Feedback Smart.

We invite your continued feedback on the paper. Please feel free to comment on specific sections of text to the online version of the Is Feedback Smart draft paper, or leave a more general comment on if feedback is the smart thing to do below.

is feedback smart?feedback-button

Feedback can be collected passively from existing or new data sources (the focus of many “big data” initiatives), or actively from people’s perceptions about what they need and the impact of programs on their lives (a question of particular interest to Feedback Labs members). Feedback can also come ex-ante (What programs should we create, and how should we design them?) as well as during implementation (How are things working out? What changes are needed?) and even ex-poste (Looking back, was that a success? What did we learn that will inform what we do differently next time?)



The author, Elina Sarkisova, would like to thank Renee Ho and Sarah Hennessy for their helpful input and direction over the course of writing the paper.

Financial support for the work of Feedback Labs has been provided by: Fund for Shared Insight, The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, Bill & Melinda Gates foundation, Rita Allen Foundation, The World Bank, USAID.

Founding Members of Feedback Labs: Development Gateway, GlobalGiving, Keystone Accountability, Twaweza, Ushahidi, Center for Global Development, Ashoka, FrontlineSMS, GroundTruth.

Collaborating Members: LIFT, How Matters, Great Nonprofits, CDA, Integrity Action, Results for Development, Charity Navigator, Accountability Lab, Giving Evidence, Global Integrity, Reboot, Voto Mobile, Internews, ICSO.

Disclaimer: This paper does not represent the official views of any referenced organization


Is Feedback Smart?

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