GPSA BBL: Citizen Feedback on NGO Work

January 23, 2014
World Bank

With a set-up that is comparable to Yelp, is the largest content collector and aggregator of beneficiary reviews about social programs implemented by NGOs. On the GreatNonprofits website, users can rate more than 1.8 million social programs from 1.4 million nonprofits in the United States. The platform now hosts over 200,000 reviews. The reviews help more than 20 million users to make decisions about whether to partner with or support non-profit organizations. The user-friendly methodology enables constructive dialogue between NGO staff and the citizens who benefit from their programs; thus, contributing to the transparency and accountability of the NGO sector. Perla Ni, founder of will share lessons learned from her experience. She will explain about the innovative tools and the open systems approach that have worked at scale to encourage citizen feedback that helps NGOs build better programs. In her presentation, Perla will touch upon questions such as:

  • How to nurture and protect the trust of citizens who provide feedback?
  • How to overcome barriers such as literacy and access to technology?
  • How to provide incentives for organizations to welcome beneficiary feedback?
  • How to build tools for dialogue that enables organizations to respond?


An example of how GreatNonProfits made a difference in a community

A Community School in Allegheny County (Pennsylvania) invited its students to provide feedback on When the School Director read the students’ comments, she realized that all the kids really wanted was a student lounge where they could relax and hang out. The School Director and her staff took action and within a couple of months, created a simple lounge for the students, which the students now enjoy.



Perla Ni, CEO and Founder,

Perla Ni is the CEO and founder of She has executive experience in corporate, academic and nonprofit sectors. She was the founder and former publisher of the Stanford Social Innovation Review. She also co-founded Grassroots Enterprise, a venture-backed start-up. She has a B.A. from the UC- Berkeley and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. She has been named a "Top Game Changer" by the Huffington Post.

Anabel Cruz, Founder and Director, Communication and Development Institute (ICD)

Anabel Cruz is the founder of the Institute for Communication and Development (ICD) in Uruguay, and has been a consultant for international organizations and a visiting lecturer at universities in several countries. She is a reference in Latin America for the International Society for Third Sector Research (ISTR), the Board Chair of CIVICUS, World Alliance for Citizen Participation between 2004 and 2010, and is currently the Chair of the international NGO Partnership for Transparency Fund and member of the Board of HAP (Humanitarian Accountability Partnership). She coordinates the Regional Civil Society Accountability Initiative Rendir Cuentas, present in 10 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. She has over two decades of experience in civil society research, promotion and training in various countries in Latin America and in the regional and global context. In recent years she has worked extensively on promoting transparency and accountability of civil society and other stakeholders, leading international research on the issue and coordinating the efforts of organizations to implement common standards and spaces for reflection, exchange of information and training.

John Garrison,  Senior Civil Society Specialist, ECRGE, World Bank

John Garrison joined the World Bank in 1996 as a Civil Society Specialist and spent the first five years in the Bank’s office in Brasilia, Brazil working to improve relations with civil society. He currently heads the Bank’s Civil Society Team (CST) which coordinates the Bank’s civil society engagement work at the global level.  Current activities include working to formulate Bank-wide strategy, providing advice to senior management, engaging international CSOs, and disseminating information on the Bank. Before joining the Bank, Mr. Garrison worked on human rights and grassroots development with a variety of non-governmental, faith-based, academic, and governmental organizations in Brazil, Latin America, and the United States.  Mr. Garrison holds a master’s degree in Latin American Studies from Vanderbilt University and has published numerous articles and reports on international development and civil society.