Evaluation 2022 Feedback in Evaluation Working Group Week: Welcome to Feedback Week! by Britt Lake and Melinda Tuan

Britt Lake is a white woman with shoulder-length brown wavy hair and brown eyes. She is facing the camera with trees behind her and is wearing a gray top. Melinda Tuan is a Chinese woman with bob-length straight black hair and brown eyes. She is facing the camera with a porch with trees behind it and is wearing a navy sleeveless top.

Hello, AEA! We are Britt Lake, CEO of Feedback Labs, which seeks to make feedback the norm in aid, philanthropy, nonprofits, and government, and Melinda Tuan, Managing Director of Fund for Shared Insight, a national funder collaborative seeking to improve philanthropy by promoting high-quality listening and feedback in service of equity.

Both our organizations are built around the premise that organizations — funders, nonprofits, and even government agencies — can do more good in the world and be better at advancing equity when they listen to the people and communities who are most impacted by their decisions. We’ve each been promoting this idea for nearly a decade. And during that time, a lot has changed.

For example, when Fund for Shared Insight was founded in 2014, one of our first actions was to approach a handful of evaluation firms with an offer of grant funding to explore whether there is a relationship between feedback and program outcomes. At least one organization declined the funding, arguing that incorporating perceptual feedback into evaluations would be incompatible with rigorous evaluations of program quality or effectiveness.

Vintage radio wearing headphones on top of a table and in front of a green wall.

Of course, we both disagree. And we’re excited to share with you over the course of this week some of the reasons why. In this week’s posts, you’ll learn about a growing body of research documenting the correlation between feedback and program outcomes. You’ll hear about how feedback and smart data visualization is helping to decolonize evaluation. You’ll hear from our colleagues at the Disability Rights Fund, who make the case for why feedback from people with disabilities is essential to designing program evaluation, and from Brittany Schulman at Native Americans in Philanthropy about the importance of incorporating Native perspectives into program evaluation. You’ll also learn about how participatory approaches to measurement and evaluation are helping organizations be more nimble and responsive to rapidly changing conditions.

As Lymari Benitez and Katie Smith Milway write in their blog about how listening has strengthened evaluations at Pace Center for Girls, “[W]e are learning that feedback not only helps us improve programs, but also influences participant engagement and advocacy, helps gauge outcomes and deeply supports equity.” We’re both encouraged to see the evaluation field moving to embrace perceptual feedback as valid and even essential to evaluation, and we hope you’ll stay with us for the full week of posts.

Rad Resources

As we get started, here are some key documents that can help orient you to the feedback field:

Perceptual Feedback: What’s it all about?

The Core Principles of Constituent Feedback

Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.