At the core of GOAL's mission is the commitment to ensuring that the stakeholders it works to support play an active role in shaping the organisation's operations. This is to make sure our efforts have the most positive impact, are done efficiently, and align with the actual needs of the communities with whom we work. To do this, GOAL provides stakeholders with safe and responsive Community Feedback Mechanisms (CFM). Here, we discuss GOAL's journey toward the digitalisation of CFMs and the transformative impact that our inclusive approach has on community engagement.
Evolution of Community Feedback Mechanisms:
GOAL initiated its CFMs in 2011, striving to incorporate valuable input from communities to enhance the relevance and effectiveness of its work. Originally largely paper-based, GOAL’s CFMs have undergone a remarkable transformation. Recognising the need for increased efficiency and timely responses, GOAL embarked on a comprehensive digitalisation journey shortly after the establishment of CFM. Today, each country programme now boasts a fully operational and inclusive CFM.
In the last year alone, GOAL reached 14.6 million people across 14 countries, processing 325,000 communications through its CFMs.
Digital Outreach and Information Dissemination:
Traditional information-sharing methods, such as banners and community meetings, are now complemented by innovative digital approaches. QR codes and WhatsApp groups have emerged as powerful tools, allowing community members to access information remotely. These digital channels have expanded GOAL’s reach and eliminated the necessity for physical proximity, ensuring stakeholders in remote and hard-to-reach geographies have access to information and can feedback easily.
To align with the technological preferences of communities, GOAL has integrated widely used platforms like WhatsApp, Telegram, email, and free telephone hotlines for community feedback. The accessibility and affordability of smartphones have fuelled the rapid adoption of these channels, enabling stakeholders to communicate remotely, discreetly, and at their convenience.
Inclusivity in the Digital Era:
Recognising that not all communities have equal access to technology, GOAL continues to support in-person channels like helpdesks, outreach teams, suggestion boxes, and community meetings. This ensures that vulnerable and marginalised groups without access to smartphones or data remain integral to the feedback loop.
Digitalised Communication Management:
GOAL has embraced CommCare, a mobile data collection application accessed by staff on their phones, tablets or laptops for seamless communication management in remote field sites. This technology allows staff to enter and edit communication details in real-time, reducing delays associated with manual data entry that previously existed. Prior to the application of CommCare, it was common for staff to have to wait hours and sometimes even days before being able to register vital communications.
With CommCare, entries are immediately case-managed and complimented by Microsoft Power BI, which enables real-time case management and global analysis of CFM data. This means that communication originating from a remote area in Honduras can be locally recorded, nationally coordinated, and globally analysed in real-time. This enhanced capability renders GOAL’s CFMs more efficient and highly responsive to the evolving needs of our communities.
Adaptation During the COVID-19 Pandemic:
The COVID-19 pandemic underscored the importance of digital channels as lockdowns restricted face-to-face interactions. To submit feedback, stakeholders utilised the remote accessibility of digital communication tools like email, telephone hotlines, SMS, WhatsApp, and Telegram. Even post-pandemic, these remote channels remain the preferred mode of communication by a ratio of 3:1.
With a commitment to staying abreast of technological advancements, GOAL remains agile in adopting new tools that amplify community voices. Simultaneously, the organisation is dedicated to inclusivity, ensuring that traditional channels persist for those without access to digital technologies.
GOAL’s CFM transformation enhances accountability and amplifies the voices of the communities it serves. By embracing innovative technologies and maintaining a dual approach that accommodates diverse needs, GOAL is poised to continue its active community engagement and responsive programming journey.
Visit our Impact & Learning page to explore GOAL’s Learning Brief: Digital Community Feedback Mechanisms For Faster and Better Response And Learning – A Reflection From Goal’s Experience