Stand Together Foundation joined forces with Charity Navigator in November to showcase nonprofit organizations dedicated to collecting and incorporating customer feedback into their organizational decision-making. Catalysts and non-Catalysts were highlighted on the Charity Navigator website via a new “Feedback Excellence” best charities page, earning recognition for their customer-listening practices and their inaugural public sharing of Net Promoter Score (NPS) data.
While NPS remains a widely employed metric for evaluating customer satisfaction, it represents just one piece of the larger puzzle. Embracing a comprehensive and holistic approach to collecting and acting on customer feedback enables organizations to expand measurement beyond satisfaction, exploring nonprofit effectiveness, respectfulness, and customer empowerment. This approach, integral to continuous improvement, encapsulates Customer First Measurement™.
The highlighted organizations below continue to captivate and inspire us with their strides in implementing Customer First Measurement. Each showcased organization embraces feedback practices and principles that amplify the voices of individuals closest to the issues and adapt tailored programs and services to meet community needs. Customer experience exists at the core of these organizations’ survey design, analysis, and innovation. Continue reading for examples of how these organizations listen beyond their NPS and commit to feedback excellence.
Our House, an organization that offers holistic support to families experiencing homelessness and near homelessness, integrates customer feedback seamlessly into their daily operations. After conducting hundreds of client surveys in their semi-annual “Speak Up Week” events, Our House ensures survey results are interpreted as authentically as possible. To incorporate feedback, Our House relies on Community Council groups comprised of clients to review survey findings and guide the organization’s response to recommended opportunities for improvement. Each council group goes through two cycles of the Speak Up Week process, so groups witness tangible impacts from their past suggestions. Executive Director Ben Goodwin emphasizes the significance: “Even though it can be challenging and humbling at times, our feedback work is vital to our mission. We value the people we serve, and what better way to demonstrate that than by valuing their perspective and trying our best to heed their suggestions.”
Leap To Success
Leap to Success empowers women overcoming domestic violence, homelessness, and other challenges with personal and professional development workshops. After receiving customer feedback, Leap to Success was surprised to see how much they can learn from their customers directly. By closely examining feedback data and segmenting NPS by customer types, the organization identified an underrepresented demographic of women and created a tailored survey addressing their unique needs. They also plan to expand their surveys to graduates of their workshops to gain feedback on their financial literacy and career development support. Leap to Success is excited to learn directly from these women about the professional development opportunities that will be the most valuable to them in the coming year.
Path United empowers children living in mobile home communities to thrive in school and beyond by equipping kids with educational programming and positive, stable relationships. A few years ago, they decided to allocate more resources toward social and emotional skill building while shifting away from offering assistance with homework. When surveyed, however, parents reported high stress levels regarding homework, prompting Path United to recognize they had removed a valuable piece of their programming and reintroduced optional homework support. Path United is dedicated to the ongoing use of feedback, illustrated by their continued efforts to facilitate meaningful conversations with parents and schools/teachers about the stresses of homework and work together towards meaningful solutions.
Adaptive Training Foundation
Adaptive Training Foundation (ATF) redefines limits for wounded veterans and individuals with life-altering physical challenges. ATF began gathering data from its customers several years ago, but only recently implemented practices to truly elevate customer voices. David Vobora, Founder and CEO, shared: “Ultimately, the addition of NPS allows us to prove that we are taking into account what our athletes are telling us, which helps us continue to evolve the program to the benefit of our athletes.” Vobora supports the organization’s commitment to improving their feedback process and questions, as it helps them “validate the work that we are doing with key metrics so that we can tell the greater story and prove the efficacy of the impact being made.”
Lawndale Christian Legal Center
Lawndale Christian Legal Center (LCLC) partners with young people to build community, promote equity, and drive change in their neighborhoods. LCLC leadership believes “client voice is often the most revealing and informative gauge of the impact of their services.” They shared, “Oftentimes, what we think is most important or effective is not what the client does.” They are constantly working on incorporating that feedback into their programs and services. A recent example from collected client feedback showed that clients faced significant barriers to accessing safe and adequate housing. After learning this, LCLC invested in building stronger partnerships with local housing providers, specifically targeting providers who know how to connect and work with their core customers.
National Angels walk alongside children in the foster care system and their caretakers by offering consistent support through intentional giving, relationship building, and mentorship. After implementing feedback surveys, National Angels shared that they “knew that our programs were transformational, but to be able to quantify the impact has been critical to our growth. Because of the results received, we can further tailor our support to meet the needs and desires of those we walk alongside.” By segmenting data based on a caregiver’s program duration, they found a correlation between high satisfaction and consistent, intentional relationships, guiding future support strategies.
Downtown Boxing Gym
Downtown Boxing Gym (DBG) operates a free after-school academic and athletic program that provides Detroit students with the tools they need to succeed through academic mentorship, college and career prep, social-emotional skills building, and more. Utilizing validated surveys, DBG captures students’ self-perceptions, focusing on attributes like self-efficacy, agency, and other indicators of long-term success. DBG Founder and CEO Khali Sweeney shared: “Our program is personalized. Each student’s experience at DBG is unique for their specific needs. Listening is how we find out what those needs are.” They believe that the “listening-focused model demonstrates that when students lead the conversation, the resulting services not only meet their needs but build a foundation for lifelong learning and success.”
Friends of the Children
Friends of the Children is a national nonprofit creating generational change by giving children and families facing systemic obstacles the ability to write a new story. They do this by connecting children with a long-term, paid, professional mentor called a Friend from kindergarten through high school graduation. Friends of the Children leadership states they are “committed to the use of data, participant voice, and stories to promote the inherent potential of every child and family we serve.” The organization regularly surveys caregivers and youth to check in on what is and isn’t working, centering client experiences to ensure every child can set goals and reach them. Friends of the Children leadership explained, “We do this to maximize the opportunity for impact by holding ourselves accountable to the youth and families we walk alongside.”
Sky’s the Limit
Sky’s the Limit empowers underrepresented young entrepreneurs between the ages of 18 and 29 to fulfill their business dreams by providing pathways to support, including social capital, training, and funding opportunities. Sky’s the Limit began collecting feedback from their customers through quarterly surveys, enabling them to regularly receive responses and adapt to deliver exceptional value to their customers. The Sky’s the Limit team shares, “Whether it’s refining how our community interacts on the platform, introducing new features, or optimizing existing ones, our surveys play a pivotal role in shaping the evolution of our programs.” They will launch new platform enhancements in 2024, guided in its design by features requested from their customers.