Hearing from Those We Seek to Help: Nonprofit Practices and Perspectives in Beneficiary Feedback

For nonprofit organizations, hearing from the beneficiaries they seek to serve is an important practice for planning, implementing, and evaluating their programs and services. But does this feedback and an understanding of intended beneficiaries’ needs reach foundation funders and influence their funding and strategic decision-making?

To answer this question, CEP investigated what nonprofits are doing to hear from those they seek to help and whether their leaders believe their foundation funders are tuned in to the needs of their intended beneficiaries. The data reveals that most nonprofits are collecting and using feedback from their beneficiaries to improve their programs and services, but nonprofit leaders believe most of their foundation funders lack a deep understanding of their intended beneficiaries’ needs. The research shows that this matters. Nonprofit leaders believe foundations’ lack of understanding of their beneficiaries’ needs is reflected in their funding priorities and programmatic strategies, and that nonprofits believe foundations can benefit from deeper engagement with beneficiary feedback.

This report is co-authored by Ellie Buteau, Ph.D., Ramya Gopal, and Phil Buchanan.

The survey used to gather information for this report is available here.

View a summary of the key findings here.

October 2014

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