When organizations think about their social media strategy, they often think about getting the word out about their work. Or attracting donors. But a social media strategy can do a lot more. Indeed, it can get end-user feedback that might change what your organization does and how it does it.
Recently, I read about how a nonprofit called the Nurse-Family Partnership gathered end-user and partner feedback and then used it to change its systems, services, and even its business model. Their story has a lot of useful lessons for the rest of us.
For 30 years, Nurse-Family Partnership’s mission has been to help keep children healthy and safe and improve the lives of moms and babies. The organization does this by pairing specially trained nurses with first-time moms-to-be who are usually in their late teens or early 20s and living in poverty. Nurses visit and work with moms from early in their pregnancies until their children turn two.
The organization has always evaluated and monitored its own efforts to make sure it was having the impact that it should. But it wasn’t until three years ago that the organization decided to gather data from the moms and partners it worked with.
The feedback they got profoundly changed how they function as an organization.
First Big Change: IT System
Nurse-Family Partnership used a five-question, anonymous survey that they sent via text to moms. “We also convened moms around the country for focus groups and interviews. We asked them what was and wasn’t working for them. And we found their answers so helpful that we decided to create a parallel survey to hear from NFP nurses, supervisors, administrators, and other implementing partners,” according to CEO Frank Daidone and COO Benilda Samuels.
It turned out that moms were more satisfied with the program than the nurses were. Why? They were recording their visits with moms via hard copy forms that were tedious to fill out and took a long time.
The solution? Nurse-Family Partnership launched a more user-friendly, mobile-enabled platform for recording data from visits. The data is now easier to collect and easier to use for everyone involved.
How does your organization gather data? Is it easy for both end-users and your employees to collect it? Once it is gathered, is it easy to put use for your strategic goals?
Second Big Change: New Services
As Nurse-Family Partnership learned more about the moms they served and what they wanted and needed, they realized they needed to update how they got moms to join the program.
For many years, the organization had dropped off flyers at WIC offices and churches. They got referrals from public assistance and community programs. But when they learned more about their end-users, they realized they could reach moms on Facebook, Instagram, the music-streaming site Pandora, and pregnancy apps. The organization started buying targeted ads on social media.
As well, moms liked meeting in person with nurses, but they also wanted to be able to meet virtually using tools like FaceTime and Skype.
Nurse-Family Partnership made their services more accessible using technology by learning more about their client base.
Where do your end-users spend their time? Are there barriers for them that could be overcome by new technological solutions?
Third Big Change: Business Strategy
Nurses worked with moms and children until the children turned two. But feedback from moms suggested that outcomes might be better for children if the relationship between families and the organization lasted longer. So Nurse-Famly Partnership changed their model to create lifelong affiliations for moms. “NFP alumni receive invitations to participate in local and national events, access to resources for their families, and an opportunity to join a Facebook group to connect with other NFP alumni as long as they choose to remain involved,” according to Daidone and Samuels.
Feedback also changed how Nurse-Family Partnership communicated with donors. Through surveys, they learned that donors cared deeply about breaking cycles of intergenerational poverty. Though this had long been a goal of Nurse-Family Partnership, the organization hadn’t used it much in the narrative it told about its work.
Do you ask your end-users about how your organization might better, or more profoundly, influence their lives? Have you checked how well your messaging aligns with what your donors care about?
“Institutionalizing feedback can provide the innovation engine for any nonprofit, changing its culture for the better,” write Daidone and Samuels. In a rapidly changing world, organizations must change continuously to stay relevant and provide the best services possible. End-user feedback is a great way to catalyze that change.