Feedback Labs

Please read our Welcome Letter to learn more about our search, and visit the Guidelines, Criteria & Prizes pages for more information on how to enter. Entries must be received before January 15, 2014, 5 p.m. EST. Enter before the early entry deadline, November 27, 2013, 5 p.m. EST, to be eligible to win one of two cash prizes of US $500.

In the private sector, platforms like Yelp,, and Kickstarter are giving increasing power to consumers. These tools create an ongoing process of suggestion and response—a “feedback loop”-- that motivates companies to listen to consumers and to create new and better products.

But why haven’t feedback loops given people more power in how they are governed, how donor money is spent, and how social services are delivered? People best understand the issues that affect them and what support they need to solve those problems, but many institutions struggle to understand and respond to their perspective. In many places, power imbalances and cultural practices discourage people from giving feedback at all. As a result, trillions of donor dollars and incredible human energy have been spent with good intentions on social projects, while many of the world’s most dire problems remain unsolved.

We want to promote what works and learn from what doesn’t. We want to learn more about how feedback loops drive accountability and results--from governments, agencies, community organizations, and philanthropies.

So, what breakthrough feedback mechanisms help to redistribute power and put resources where they’ll make the biggest difference?

What encourages governments, foundations, and organizations to close feedback loops by taking action?

How are you using feedback loops to spark conversations between people and service providers, and inspire better results?

To discover your answers to these questions, Feedback Labs and Ashoka Changemakers have launched a new competition, Closing the Loop: Feedback for Results. Finalists will receive direct consultation from Feedback Labs founding partners and associated luminaries, and top entrants will have the opportunity to access a funding pool of $10,000 or more. They will also have opportunities to showcase their work among leading foundations and multilateral organizations with the capacity to adopt, scale, or improve their ideas. Additional opportunities will be announced as the competition progresses.

We need feedback loops to help us break new ground and put people in the driver’s seat of the policies and programs that affect them. Submit or nominate a solution today.


  • The competition is open to all organizations and partnerships from around the world. Nonprofit and for-profit ideas are permitted, with a focus on improving social services, philanthropy, and governance.
  • Solutions should reflect the theme of the challenge — Closing the Loop: Feedback for Results. We want to hear how your organization uses feedback loops to empower people, drive better decisions, and put resources where they’ll make a difference.
  • Preference will be given to solutions that have grown beyond the conceptual stage and have demonstrated impact and sustainability.
  • We are accepting entries in English, Spanish, Portuguese, French, or Arabic.


  • The opportunity to access a funding pool of $10,000 or more.
  • In-depth peer review by Feedback Labs founding partners, a consortium of internationally recognized organizations.
  • Opportunities to showcase work among leading foundations and other multilateral agencies, with the capacity to adopt, scale, or improve top innovations.
  • Additional opportunities will be announced as the competition progresses.

Early Entry Prize

  • One of two cash prizes of US $500. (To be eligible, you must submit your entry prior to the early entry prize deadline: November 27, 2013, 5 p.m. EST.)

Why You Should Enter

  • Join and explore a network of world class efforts using feedback loops to achieve better results in social services, philanthropy, and governance.
  • Connect with Feedback Labs, and join its global community of problem-solvers who support the impact you are making on the ground. Your participation in the competition gives you the opportunity to forge relationships with like-minded innovators, impact partners, sector experts, and investors.
  • Gain visibility with the funders and institutions that are partnering with Ashoka and Feedback Labs in this effort.

How to Enter

  • Please complete the entry form and submit by the deadline: January 15, 2014 at 5 p.m. EST
  • For advice about how to create a better entry and boost your chances of winning, read these tips.
  • Please see Competition Deadlines, Procedures, and Rules for full information on the competition process. Semi-finalists will be notified with detailed instructions on February 5, 2014.

Winners of Closing the Loop will be those that best meet the following criteria:


We are looking for projects that use feedback loops to:

  • Link governments, foundations, service providers, and the groups they serve;
  • Put people in the driver’s seat when considering the problems that directly affect them;
  • Address barriers in collecting feedback, so that data is representative and inspires results;
  • Build the capacity (and desire) of governments and other institutions to respond to feedback;
  • Help people and experts to have authentic conversations about what works best.

Judges will give high rankings to entries that transcend traditional boundaries and demonstrate willingness to engage in collaborative partnerships. Entries that include a process of researching and determining best practices for feedback loops will also be given a high ranking. Innovation does not necessarily involve inventing something entirely new; your solution may creatively repurpose an existing tool, or it may find a new application for a forgotten idea. The best ideas are “innovative” because they inspire original, groundbreaking results.

Social Impact

Entries must describe what impact their solutions have on using feedback loops to achieve better results in social services, philanthropy, and governance. Specifically, entries should explain how their feedback loop solutions ultimately improve decisions, empower those with little voice, and put resources where they make a difference.

Entries should explain how the solution measures impact through both quantitative and qualitative data. The best solutions will feature demonstrated impact, as well as the potential to scale. Entries are encouraged to describe how they help to transform systems, independently or in combination with other solutions.


Entries should have a clear plan for securing funds to reach long-term goals—they should describe not only how they currently finance their work, but also how they plan to finance it in the future. They should also have a realistic time frame for implementation. The most successful entrants demonstrate that they have strong partnerships, revenue model, and support networks to address ongoing needs, and to aid in scalability and the maintenance of a clear financial strategy.

Online competition submissions are accepted until 5 p.m. EST on January 15, 2014. At any time before this deadline, competition participants are encouraged to revise their entries based on questions and insights that they receive from reviewers on their feedback dashboards. Participation in the discussion enhances an entrant’s prospects in the competition and gives the community and judges an opportunity to understand the entrant’s project more completely.

There are six main phases in the competition:


Entries can be submitted from November 6, 2013 through 5 p.m. EST on January 15, 2014. Entrants that submit early will receive feedback they can incorporate into their form ahead of the initial deadline.

Early Entry Deadline, November 27, 2013
Entries received by 5 p.m. EST on November 27, 2013 are eligible for the Early Entry prize.

Entry Deadline: Janurary 15, 2014, 5 p.m. EST

Initial Screen of Entries

Beginning January 16, 2014, Ashoka will be screening all competition entries for their fit with the judging criteria. Those judged to be most competitive will be invited to a subsequent phase.

Semi-Finalists Announced: February 5, 2014.

Peer Review for Competition Semi Finalists

Competition semi-finalists will be invited to explore and review the work of their similarly qualifying peers ahead of the Supplementary Entry period. Participants will also receive feedback on their own work that they can use to refine their pitches.

Supplementary Entry

Semi Finalists can submit their supplementary from February 19, 2014 through 5 p.m. EST on March 19, 2014. Throughout this stage, entrants are able to revise all entry content based upon reviewer feedback.

Supplementary Entry Deadline: March 19, 2014, 5 p.m. EST

Full Evaluation

Following the supplementary entry deadline, the entries of all competition semi-finalists will be given a second, more thorough review by Ashoka and Feedback Labs evaluators.

Finalists Announced: April 16, 2014.


A panel of expert judges will be receiving the work of competition finalists. Together, the judges will determine the most competitive among entries while adding their own capacity and thought leadership to the effort.

Winners Announced: May 21, 2014.

Disclaimer—Compliance with Legal Restrictions

Ashoka complies fully with all U.S. laws and regulations, including Office of Foreign Assets Control regulations, export control, and anti-money laundering laws. Any grants will be awarded subject to compliance with such laws. Ashoka will not make any grant if it finds that to do so would be unlawful. This may prohibit awards in certain countries and/or to certain individuals or entities. All recipients will comply with these laws to the extent they are applicable to such recipients. No recipient will take any action that would cause Ashoka to violate any laws. Additionally, Ashoka will not make any grant to a company involved in the promotion of tobacco use.



(Washington, D.C.) - On March 10, Feedback Labs, a consortium of leading domestic and international organizations in the for-good sector, released the first version of its flagship product, the Feedback Toolkit.  The Toolkit helps organizations improve the way they listen to their constituents to be more responsive to the people they are trying to serve - and ultimately to improve outcomes.

Mar 10, 15