Editor's Note: TPF values and approaches often mirror the fundamental principles of trust-based philanthropy. Throughout this series, TPF Fellow, John Ferguson, will explore how they intersect and what it could mean for the future of the philanthropic sector should it become the operational norm, instead of the rare exception.Continue reading John Ferguson's blog series:
- Trust in Philanthropy: Part One — The Vital Importance of Trust
- Trust in Philanthropy: Part Two — Removing Restrictions to Realize Results
- Trust in Philanthropy: Part Three — Do the Homework
- Trust in Philanthropy Part Four — Simplify and Streamline for Success
- Trust in Philanthropy: Part Five — Responsiveness and Transparency
- Trust in Philanthropy: Part Seven — Beyond the Check
The Patterson Foundation (TPF) always strives for excellence in every endeavor. One important aspect of that journey is to carefully consider feedback on a continual basis. When we as practitioners regularly seek input from others and incorporate lessons learned into future efforts, we elevate our work and the experiences of those who partner with us or participate in our events and offerings. It's a win for all involved.
The fifth principle of trust-based philanthropy is to solicit and act on feedback. It is worth noting the two distinct parts of that principle:
- To solicit feedback.
- Act on the feedback received.
Once you receive the requested feedback, take the time to absorb it and contemplate how you might channel the comments and suggestions into making meaningful changes to your programs or processes. Everything evolves. Each iteration should improve over the last, not because something is wrong, but because of a relentless pursuit of excellence in all things.
At TPF, whenever we have an event, we send an after-action survey. These surveys are often short and take only a few minutes to complete. The questions are crafted to be open-ended and invite honest responses.
- What is one thing you will do as a result of your participation today?
- What was your most significant takeaway?
- What do you wish we would have done differently?
- What else would you like us to know?
This becomes even more important when a funder considers a significant change in process or focus area(s). Previous feedback from grantees can help inform potential changes and even help create buy-in before they occur, especially if grantees see their comments reflected in the proposed changes.
Feedback is the fuel that drives an organization's future success. Establishing a feedback loop can help build trust, deepen partnerships, and create a culture of continual improvement. When trust is present, feedback is natural. And when feedback is natural, our work evolves with each iteration as we continually strive for excellence every day.