Listening and Learning

How do you know when your organization is on the right path when it comes to creating a welcoming environment that embraces equality and diversity? Are there mechanisms in place to gather feedback? Are there opportunities for people to gather to learn from one another and share experiences? Below are some strategies your organization may consider leveraging to encourage open communications between your staff, members, constituents, and clients.

Community Quality Assurance Surveys

Consider creating a survey to gauge how well you are supporting the people or communities you serve.

  • Are your members/clients/constituents greeted warmly when they walk in the door?
  • Do they feel comfortable approaching you with questions?
  • Do they feel they “belong” in the culture of your organization and are they inspired to get engaged in your activities and programs?
  • Do they receive communications from you in their spoken language?
  • Are your written materials useful and relevant to them?
  • Do they feel your organization is effective in accomplishing its work?
  • Do they value the services you provide, and do they have suggestions about what your organization can do better?

Make the feedback mechanism easy to access and available in a variety of media – for surveys, use postcards that can be dropped off in your front lobby, and online forms that can be submitted anonymously. For free-flowing feedback, publish a toll-free hotline phone number so that people can talk about their concerns with a person.

Learning Circles and Sharing Spaces

People and organizations may have the most potential to make impactful change when they can model after others, share experiences and “war stories,” share lessons learned, and celebrate their successes together. Learning opportunities may just be the key to creating a social justice movement that advances equality for all individuals.

  • Consider setting up a mentorship program or “learning circle” that brings together organizing groups, advocacy groups, organizational leaders, and community members who are affected by the change you are trying to create. The participants will serve as mentors to each other when the model is designed to be a multi-directional learning opportunity.
  • Offer a space at your organization where people can gather for the learning circles. Solicit the use of space that others in your community can also offer.
  • Let the group decide what direction the mentorship program will take. Allow the outcomes to be generated in a way that represents the common interests of the group.
  • Consider making outside professional resources available to the group, such as nonprofit consultants, advocacy experts, and technical assistance experts.