What we found
- Establishing feedback mechanisms required flexibility in the initial design phase, a thorough context analysis, and willingness to adapt mechanisms during implementation.
- Sensitisation of target beneficiaries to the purpose and process of giving feedback was essential to build confidence and overcome fears about giving feedback.
- Face-to-face mechanisms were preferred in contexts with lower literacy and high poverty. Technology-enabled mechanisms and suggestion boxes required adaptation to these contexts.
- Technology-enabled mechanisms were less accessible for women as compared to men
- The provision of multiple mechanisms aided inclusion of different groups.
- Responding to feedback required flexibility in project activities and budgets, clear referral pathways and relationships with external stakeholders.
- Beneficiary feedback supported real-time adaptation of projects to the needs of their target groups and contexts, and accountability of programmes and government service providers.
- The process of giving feedback empowered beneficiaries and was valued in its own right.
- Most feedback loops were closed at project level, meaning that complaints were resolved and feedback responded to direct to the beneficiary. However, there was limited use of feedback higher up the aid delivery chain, and feedback did not inform upward accountability to the donor.
- At the outset, ask whether there is sufficient time, resources and flexibility to implement a feedback mechanism and respond to feedback once the mechanism is in place
- Conduct a thorough context analysis before deciding on a particular feedback mechanism, including whether literacy or cost are barriers in marginalised contexts
- Sensitise beneficiaries to the purpose and process of giving feedback, both at the start of the project and on an ongoing basis, and allow time to build trust in the mechanism
- Engage with external stakeholders (particularly local government agencies and community leaders) about the feedback mechanism and establish referral protocols
- Ensure that there is sufficient scope in the programme design to make changes and respond to requests to increase or reallocate resources; negotiate with the donor if necessary
- Ensure those with ‘first contact’ with beneficiaries (often project staff) understand the purpose of the feedback mechanism and the scope for responding to feedback
- If feedback is intended to integrate with monitoring systems, give careful consideration to how feedback will be analysed and aggregated and the capacity of staff and systems to do that.
- Consider the sustainability and exit strategy for a feedback mechanism as part of the initial design phase
For more information on how to overcome the challenges of implementing some of these recommendations, please check out the practice notes.
Findings from the monitoring and review process
This briefing summarises the key findings from the pilot and is intended to inform organisations and their funders about the development and implementation of feedback mechanisms.
Through the course of the pilot, the implementation and results of each of the pilots were monitored and reviewed by local consultants at key points in time. A full end-point synthesis report that brings together findings from all seven projects at the end of the pilot is also available.
Where are they now?
In early 2017, World Vision UK, which led the consortium that supported the pilots contacted partners to see what has happened since the pilot programmes finished in 2016 and whether they have been able to sustain the feedback mechanisms in the communities they worked in. There is no doubt by all the organisations interviewed that community feedback helped them in their work. Indeed, the technical capacity that setting up a feedback system enabled was the lasting legacy of the programme. However, continued funding and assigning staff and resources to ensure that feedback is collected, analysed, referred and acted upon is the greatest issue facing organisations. The findings from the interviews revealed four key enablers for organisations to continue replicating the use of feedback mechanisms. These were:
- attracting flexible funding to support feedback mechanisms;
- the commitment of the organisation to institutionalise these through core programme and organisational strategy;
- the ability of champions within the organisations to further the uptake or cause for feedback mechanisms; and
- the organisations’ established relationships with the community and local government, that enables lasting trust and credibility.
Find the full report here.