2 More Articles about Feedback at CEO!

In recent weeks, partners and collaborators continue to write about our efforts at CEO to obtain feedback from those who matter most — our participants!

Here, Mogli SMS (who power our text message surveys through Salesforce) write about the power of a text message:

Mogli SMS: It’s Not Just a Text…It’s an Intervention

And here, Jehan Velji, Director of Program Strategy at the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation, discusses the urgent need for foundations, philanthropies, and nonprofit organizations to prioritize listening to beneficiaries, especially in the context of today’s uncertain social/political situation:

Jehan Velji: In Uncertain Times, We Must Listen to Those We Seek to Help


Getting Proximate to the Work

On April 5th, 2017 CEO staffers Christine Kidd and Nate Mandel (pictured below on right) accompanied three former participants (Luis Fonseca, Warren Sanders, Antoine Ragland — picture below in middle from left to right) to Boston, MA to attend the Center for Effective Philanthropy (CEP) conference and discuss the experience of providing feedback to CEO. The session inspired multiple write-ups and blog posts throughout the “feedback community” and Twittersphere, which we link to here. Check them out!

Melinda Tuan from Fund for Shared Insight on Getting Proximate

Nate Mandel from CEO on Truly Listening


Looking Back: Feedback Loops

About one year ago, Beth Kanter dove into the world of nonprofit feedback loops and beneficiary feedback on her popular blog. CEO was featured as an early adopter of this work. Check out the article here:


Looking back on this now, the courtesy she refers to seems like less of an obstacle than it was then. For one, participants routinely express concern around the same point of friction: the call-in process for signing up for jobs (we call it “plugging-in”). Perhaps, when there’s an issue that is more commonly felt, the lack of anonymity seems less likely to prevent open criticism.

It will be interesting to look back again another year from now on how our process has evolved. As CEO works feverishly to address the plugging-in paint point, perhaps feedback loops will take on yet another form in the coming months.

Overcoming the Courtesy Bias

In the early days of Constituent Voice at CEO, we faced an overwhelming number of high scores. Our Net Promoter Score was hovering around 80, and participants were regularly providing us with an A+ report card…so we knew something was wrong. After all, no organizations is perfect and we know there are areas where we could improve. As CV has progressed, we’ve continually sought out new methods to gain candor and honesty in our participants’ assessment of our program. This blog post by Keystone Accountability goes through the steps we took to begin to push back against a perceived “courtesy bias”.

Blog Post: How CEO Turned High Scores into Constructive Criticism


Why Capture the Constituent Voice?

Since becoming an independent nonprofit organization in 1996, the Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO) has always relied heavily on data. We collect information at every stage of our program model, which enables us to better serve the employment needs of the formerly incarcerated individuals who walk through our doors. By analyzing trends over time and tracking progress toward various performance outcomes, we improve our ability to anticipate and adapt around what we know will work.

Our Model, 4 Steps that Work

While CEO has a long history with these evidence-based practices, one key set of information has consistently remained elusive: the voice of our participants. That’s why CEO spent the early months of 2015 gearing up to roll out a series of Constituent Voice pilots in our offices in New York City and San Bernardino, CA. The goal of the project is simple: systematically ask for feedback from our participants, record and analyze the responses, and respond accordingly.

Now, over a year after our initial pilots, this blog aims to detail insights and lessons learned from our ongoing journey. We also believe that amplifying the voice of our participants is especially important in context with a criminal justice system that often leaves individuals feeling powerless and voiceless. That’s why CEO is committed to scaling this initiative across all jurisdictions while continuing to improve our ability to work collaboratively with our participants, to hear and understand what challenges they face along their vocational journey, and to make corresponding program improvements.